The most recent statistics shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that 73.6% of Americans aged 20 and older are overweight — this includes people with obesity and severe obesity.
It’s also quite alarming that from 1999 to 2018, obesity prevalence increased from 30.5% to 42.4%. There was also an increase in severe obesity from 4.7% to 9.2% within the same timeframe. So if you’re looking to get healthier, congratulations. Not only are you one step closer to having a toned physique. You’re also minimizing the risk of obesity-related conditions like stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
But before you start stocking up on weight loss powder supplements and documenting your fitness journey, you first have to understand the difference between losing weight and losing fat.
Then, once you understand the difference between losing weight and losing body fat, you can go over healthy ways to achieve fat loss and gain muscle mass.
The Difference Between Weight Loss and Fat Loss
Weight loss defines the overall decrease in body weight. It includes water weight, muscle mass, and fat losses. Meanwhile, fat loss only refers to a decrease in body fat — it’s a healthier way to achieve your fitness goals than by losing more water weight and muscle mass than you should.
When you check fitness apps or visit gyms, you might encounter weight loss programs that claim to help you lose weight in no time. But as tempting as these diet and exercise routines are, they might cause more water and muscle loss than what is good for your body. And keep in mind that losing too much muscle mass could harm your health because muscles prevent age-related muscle loss and frailty.
Additionally, your muscle mass affects how much calories your body burns at rest. This means that the more muscles you have, the easier it will be for you to burn calories even when your body’s at rest.
That being said, focus on losing body fat than on losing overall body weight.
A Healthy Way to Achieve Fat Loss
You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to care about how much muscle mass you retain. Even though you aren’t looking to build muscles, you should be careful not to lose the muscle mass that you already have.
- Eat a high-protein diet that includes eggs, dairy, and lean meats. If you’re on a plant-based diet, try adding more nuts, beans, and legumes to your diet since they’re also high in protein.
- Make sure you’re getting enough muscle-retaining nutrients while you enter a low-calorie, high-protein diet. This means loading up on vitamin D and leucine supplements.
- The best way to burn calories and retain your muscle mass is to make exercise a regular habit. Even a five-day break from working out could greatly reduce your muscle mass.
- Incorporate cardio exercises and strength training into your fitness routine. The lack of strength training compromises muscle retention while the lack of cardio compromises fat loss.
- Modify exercises based on your fitness goals. Balance cardio and strength training if you’re a beginner. Prioritize endurance if you’re a marathoner. Focus on muscle growth for bodybuilding.
- Avoid overtraining and minimize the risk of injuries by adjusting your recovery time. Rest no longer than 90 seconds between sets for endurance and for 3 to 5 minutes for muscle strength.
Remember that your goal isn’t simply to lose weight. You want to find a healthy balance between fat loss and muscle gain. And if you have a medical condition, consult with your doctor before starting a fitness routine or entering a low-calorie, high-protein diet.
A Healthy Way to Gain Muscle Mass
If you’ve successfully lost fat and toned your body, and you’re now considering building your muscles, here are some strategies that might help you:
- Cut calorie intake conservatively. A large caloric deficit makes it easier to lose muscle mass.
- Eat at least 25 grams of protein during each meal. Your protein intake triggers muscle growth.
- Do strength training a least three times every week. This helps you build muscles faster.
- Do cardio exercises to recover from strength training. This helps regulate your blood flow.
- Be patient. It’s tougher to gain muscles than to lose body fat. But the results last longer.
Always keep in mind that fat loss and muscle gain depends on the individual. What takes a short time for someone else might take a bit longer for you. Nevertheless, stay patient and disciplined. You’ll get there!