Preserving Muscle Mass While Shedding Pounds: A Comprehensive Guide

Posted: May 11 in Activity Recommendations, Health And Wellness, Nutrition, Weight loss by
young woman exercising showing her muscle

Today, let’s delve into a topic that concerns many on the path to weight loss: preserving precious muscle mass while shedding those stubborn pounds.

Embarking on a weight-loss journey is often synonymous with cutting calories and increasing physical activity. While this approach can indeed lead to significant fat loss, it also has the potential to sacrifice hard-earned muscle mass along the way. But fear not! With the right strategies, you can minimize muscle loss and maintain a toned, sculpted physique as you work towards your weight-loss goals.

1. Prioritize Protein Intake:

Protein is the building block of muscle tissue, making it essential for preserving and repairing muscles during weight loss. Aim to include lean sources of protein in every meal, such as chicken breast, fish, tofu, eggs, and legumes. A general guideline is to consume around 1.2 – 1.5 or more grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. Not only does protein help preserve muscle mass, but it also promotes satiety, keeping hunger at bay.

For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, this is 90 kg, so your goal would be 108 – 135 grams, or 15 – 19 ounces of protein. Be sure to review your unique protein needs with your CNC Registered Dietitian!

2. Implement Resistance Training:

Cardiovascular exercise is fantastic for burning calories and improving heart health, but don’t neglect the importance of resistance training. Incorporating strength training exercises into your routine stimulates muscle growth and helps counteract muscle loss during weight loss. Focus on compound movements like squats, deadlifts, lunges, and bench presses, aiming for 2-3 sessions per week. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself with progressively heavier weights to promote muscle hypertrophy.

As you become stronger, shoot for 3 sets with each muscle group. The final set should be one in which you are against a heavier load – for example, you are able to do 6-7 repetitions with the feeling of only 2 in reserve.

If you have not embarked on resistance training in the past, this could be a great opportunity to find a personal trainer at one of our many fantastic gyms in the area.

3. Fuel Your Body Properly:

Caloric deficits are necessary for weight loss, but extreme restriction can lead to muscle wasting. Instead of slashing calories indiscriminately, focus on creating a moderate deficit by prioritizing nutrient-dense foods. Complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, fruits and plenty of vegetables provide your body with the energy and micronutrients it needs to function optimally. Again, review details with your CNC Registered Dietitian to develop a personalized meal plan that supports your weight-loss goals while preserving muscle mass.

4. Incorporate High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT):

HIIT workouts are a fantastic way to maximize calorie burn while preserving muscle mass. These short bursts of intense exercise followed by brief recovery periods not only torch fat but also stimulate muscle growth and improve cardiovascular health. Incorporate HIIT sessions into your weekly routine, alternating between exercises like sprints, burpees, jumping jacks, and mountain climbers. Just remember to listen to your body and gradually increase the intensity to avoid overtraining and injury. This is again a great time to consider working with a skilled personal trainer to improve results and reduce risk of injury.

5. Prioritize Rest and Recovery:

Muscle growth occurs during periods of rest, so adequate recovery is crucial for preserving muscle mass during weight loss. Make sure to prioritize sleep, aiming for 7-9 hours per night, to allow your body to repair and rebuild muscle tissue. Incorporate rest days into your workout schedule to prevent overtraining and give your muscles time to recover fully. Additionally, consider incorporating relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, or foam rolling to reduce stress and promote overall well-being.

6. Don’t lose weight too quickly:

Losing weight too quickly may cause you to lose too much muscle mass. Your body can only process fat so quickly. The liver is responsible for breaking fat down, and a general rule of thumb to remember is that in women, the liver can break down no more than ~10 pounds of fat in a month, and in men no more than ~15 pounds in a month. Additional weight loss is typically muscle and/or decreased body water.

In particular, we are seeing many patients on the newer glp-1 injections losing too much weight too fast.

7. Don’t lose an excessive amount of weight:

Sometimes it seems like more is always better! But if the additional weight loss is muscle loss, you are not doing any favors. To avoid excessive weight loss, be sure to follow the above tips. In addition, have your weight loss monitored on our SECA medical body composition analyzer – this can tell you precisely how much your fat, visceral fat, lean and muscle weight are changing over time. With this information, we can help adjust all of the above!

Our SECA scale often identifies patients with sarcopenia – that means low lean weight – this can be muscle weight and/or bone weight. For any given body mass index (BMI), there are a lot of possibilities! A person could be a 200 pound 30 year old male weight lifter, or a 200 pound 65 year old post-menopausal sedentary female with osteoporosis. Only by measuring body composition can we show that even if they have an identical BMI, there is a vast difference in there body composition and health risk!

Remember, we include the SECA medical body composition analysis for patients on our treatment plans and CNC members. If you are not on a treatment plan or a member, consider joining now!

Read more here.

In conclusion, losing weight doesn’t have to mean sacrificing muscle mass. By prioritizing protein intake, incorporating resistance training, fueling your body properly, incorporating HIIT workouts, and prioritizing rest and recovery, you can minimize muscle loss and achieve your weight-loss goals while maintaining a strong, toned physique. Remember, slow and steady progress is key, so be patient with yourself and celebrate every milestone along the way. Here’s to a healthier, stronger you!

Stay fit, stay healthy!

Dr. Ethan Lazarus

Leave Comment