Maintaining Muscle And Strength When Dieting
People always try to diet down and burn a lot of fat to make themselves look better for a competition, the summer, an event, or vacation at the beach, which is great! However, they tend to lose quite a bit of muscle and strength when doing so. Obviously this isn’t what you want to happen. It’s best to maintain as much muscle and strength to look toned and defined when that times comes! Here, I will go over the most important factors for doing this, and looking your best!
Give yourself time
The more time you give yourself, the easier it will be, and the more muscle you will be able to maintain! Now, you need to know your body. If you are naturally thin and don’t store a lot of fat, you don’t need to diet quite as long. If you have a hard time losing weight you will need to allow a little more time to diet down. I hear people say they want to lose so many pounds before going to the beach next week, haven’t allowed enough time, and either lose the weight and feel like crap, and still don’t look as good as they would, or don’t lose weight at all. I recommend allowing yourself at least a few months to diet down and burn fat at a slow and steady pace. This will make the whole process a lot easier and less stressful on yourself, and help you consistently lose fat, and not muscle.
Make slow but steady adjustments
You don’t need to make any drastic changes right away! Make small adjustments every week, and monitor your progress. Completely changing everything you do, and everything you eat will probably make you feel pretty crappy and not want to continue. If you’re not losing quite as much as you wanted or were before, slightly decrease your carbohydrate intake by about 50 less grams per day (one less serving of carbohydrates each day). Ex. Switch a sandwich for a salad. Also, make smart choices on the foods you eat each day by introducing more fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins (grilled chicken breast, fish, ground turkey). Talking about proteins, try to get at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight to help keep you feeling full, energized, and avoid cravings for high fatty, sugar filled foods.
Keep up with your workouts
This is where cardio comes into play. I recommend doing at least 30 – 45 minutes 3 – 4 days per week if you have quite a bit of change to make. This can be on a treadmill, elliptical, stairmaster, outside run, etc. Just keep within your target heart rate. Also, when using weights, perform reps of 12 with each set to help tone, maintain muscle, and continue burning more calories. Also, test your maxes every so often to monitor strength retention. If it drops quite a bit, start lifting a little heavier during some of your sets, and recheck your daily protein intake.
When making a healthy weight change, it is obviously important to stay consistent with your diet and to continue working out. Record your start points and habits, decide how much of a change you want to make (how much weight you want to lose), and make consistent small adjustments to reach your goals in the timespan you want to do so. It takes hard work, dedication, and time, but if you don’t start, it will never happen!