Gaining muscle and losing weight can go hand-in-hand, because muscle burns more calories than fat does. By adding strength training, Pilates or resistance bands to your exercise routine, you may be better able to reach your weight loss goals, according to the KidsHealth website. You can also be successful losing weight by choosing the right types of foods.
Trying to lose weight by starving yourself is not a good idea. For one thing, your body needs proper nutrition to improve strength-training performance. In addition, according to MayoClinic.com, your body compensates for being starved by slowing down and conserving calories. The best way to lose weight is by burning more calories than you eat, and the best way to do that is by eating healthy food and exercising.
To lose weight and gain muscle, you need carbohydrates for energy and a moderate amount of fat and protein, according to the American Dietetic Association. How intensely you exercise determines your diet. You might want to consult with a sports dietitian to help you develop a personal eating plan. If you aren’t getting enough calories, you can lose muscle in addition to weight.
You need carbs to give you energy while you exercise and to prevent injury. A good rule of thumb is to eat 2.3 to 3.6 grams of carbohydrates per pound. If your focus is on weight loss, then keep your carb intake closer to 2.3gm per pound. A good way to get carbs is through whole-wheat breads and pastas, quinoa, brown rice, fruit, dairy sports bars and sports drinks, according to the American Dietetic Association.
You need a certain amount of fat in your diet to insulate your organs. Your diet should include 20 to 35 percent of healthy fat. Eat foods, such as fish, nuts and seeds. Use oils made from nuts or vegetables. You want to limit saturated fats that you get from full-fat dairy products and highly marbled meat. Smarter choices are low-fat or fat-free dairy products and lean meat. Avoid trans fats all together.
You need protein to build and maintain muscle. The amount of protein you need varies, based on your exercise program. Your doctor or sports dietitian can advise you. Good protein sources are fish, poultry, lean meat, yogurt, cheese, low-fat or non-fat milk, eggs, beans, lentils, dried peas and soy products.
After Your Workout
To speed up your recovery time after working out, eat some carbs and protein within 30 minutes. You can eat a banana, peanut butter or yogurt, for example. If you don’t feel like eating after working out, you can have a protein shake or a protein energy drink, says Martica Heaner, fitness expert, writing for MSN Health and Fitness.