Is weight loss the same as fat loss? It turns out that these are two different beasts. Weight loss could mean you’ve lost water, muscle, glycogen (i.e., unused stored form of carbs in your muscles), and so on, while fat loss means you’ve actually lost fat. When you try to lose weight in the hopes of losing fat, you might not know that your body is also burning muscle — which is bad because you need your muscles to stay strong and be lean.
How does this happen? You see, when you take fewer calories than what your body is supposed to burn to do everything you need to do in one day, you force your body to get an alternative source of energy. This could mean your muscles instead of the stored fat. But there are things you can do to “tell” your body to burn the excess (minimal amounts of fat aid vitamin absorption and production of hormones, so you will need some amount of fat in you) fat, and to lay off your muscles.
Here’s how to cut body fat without losing muscle — in three easy ways.
1. Eat fewer carbs.
White rice, white bread, white potatoes, anything sweet, cold cereals, rice cakes — these fast-digesting carbs generate large insulin bursts, which lead to more possible fat gain. Slow-digesting carbs, on the other hand, such as sweet potatoes, whole-grain bread, legumes, and oatmeal do not create insulin rise.
So the next time you get a hankering for carbs, choose whole-grain ones and keep away from refined carbs.
2. Get sufficient protein.
Protein not only helps you get more muscles, which is critical for boosting metabolism rate, but also it helps your body burn more calories processing protein. It does so more than it burns to process fat or carbs.
Ideally, you’ll want to get a serving of 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, every day. Go for lean proteins like flank steak, turkey breast, egg whites, or tuna.
3. Steer clear of eating before you go to bed.
Did you know that the first 90 minutes of sleeping leads to the natural production of growth hormone (GH), which not only boosts fat burning but is also necessary to strengthen your immune system and build muscle mass? The thing is, GH only goes to work when your stomach’s empty or if you’ve only consumed mostly proteins for the day. So try not to eat at least three hours before you sleep.
Finally, you’ll also want to train intensely but not to the point that you would completely be exhausted. An hour at the gym should be fine. And do as many sets and reps as possible within your workout routine.