Q&A: Lose Fat, Build Muscle
Q: What's the best way to lose weight and look "cut" at the same time? – Tim, Houston, TX
A: To lose weight and maintain—or even gain—lean muscle, you need to focus both on nutrition and exercise so you're expending more calories a day than you're taking in. Losing 1/2 to 1 1/2 pounds of weight loss per week is a healthy rate that will reduce your risk of wasting muscle mass. You need to eat enough of the right foods at the right times to feed your muscles, but you'll still need to aim to cut your overall calorie intake by 500-1000 calories per day.
Here are three simple nutrition guidelines to help you lose weight while retaining or gaining muscle mass:
1. Eat a balanced meal every three hours.
Always start your day off with a balanced breakfast and eat small frequent meals throughout the day—about every three hours. Each meal should contain a high-fiber carbohydrate, lean protein and healthy fat. This will help you keep your energy levels stable, metabolism running, and help to control hunger, while preserving your muscle mass.
2. Eat at least 5 servings of fruits or vegetables.
You know fruits and vegetables are great for your health, providing antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. But do they really matter for weight loss? You bet. Including at least one serving of either fruit or veggie with each of your meals. Eating salads often can help to provide more volume in your diet without adding many calories, so you won't feel like you're depriving yourself of food, but you'll still eat fewer calories.
3.Fuel up before and after your workouts.
If you're a casual exerciser, eating balanced meals should provide you with plenty of energy for your workouts, but if you're training intensely, then make sure you have a pre-workout snack, such as 16-32 ounces of a sports drink and a recovery shake or snack after your training session. This will provide you with enough energy for a more productive training and help your muscles heal and recover faster.
About The Author
Craig Friedman – Craig Friedman is the Vice President of the Performance Innovation team at Athletes' Performance. He designs and implements performance training systems for professional athletes in all sports as well as elite youth and college athletes.