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Weight Loss Challenge Tips!

Spark People

When starting a weight-loss plan, most of us hope to lose body fat, specifically—not muscle mass. But when we lose weight, a large percentage of the total weight lost can be muscle. Is there any way to reduce that muscle loss?

How to Lose Weight (Body Fat)

To lose weight you need to create a caloric deficit by consuming fewer calories than you are burn each day. This is usually accomplished by: 1) eating less food (fewer calories), 2) burning more calories by exercising more, or 3) a combination of both. In an ideal world, all of the weight we lose would be body fat, but in truth, losing weight means losing fat—and some muscle, fluids, etc.

How to Maintain Muscle Mass

Do not cut calories drastically. Drastic and sudden drops in caloric intake will result in a higher percentage of muscle loss.

Eat to meet your protein needs. You don't need to go above and beyond (it won't provide additional benefit). To find out what your protein needs really are, click here.

Perform muscle-building strength training exercises at least two times weekly. If you're not lifting weights, up to 30 percent of the weight you lose could be muscle tissue.

Best Practices for Maintaining Muscle during Weight Loss

Everyone begins a weight-loss plan with different eating habits, disease conditions, physical abilities, and needs. These factors will affect how quickly and easily you lose weight. The guidelines that follow are general suggestions.

Weeks 1-2: By the end of week 2 you should be eating within your new reduced calorie range most days of the week.   Week 3: Tweak your diet to meet your recommended protein, fat and carbohydrate ranges most days of the week while staying within your calorie range.                                                                                                                         Weeks 4-8: By the end of week 8, you should be burning at least 2,000 calories each week through planned exercise.     By week 12: You should be incorporating at least 2 sessions of strength training each week for all of your major muscle groups. 

A combination of dietary changes, aerobic exercise and strength training—not just one or two of the three—is the most effective plan to follow to lose body fat, while preserving lean muscle tissue.

For the full article and more helpful tips click here.