Everyone knows that muscle weighs more than fat, so you may be thinking that by gaining muscle, you’ll gain weight. The goal is to reduce fat and replace it with lean muscle, which is what proper diet and exercise accomplishes.
The bottom line is that calories in minus calories out is the name of the game. You want to run at a calorie deficit—taking in fewer calories than you expend. This will help you to lose fat.
Of course, you’ll gain strength and endurance from building lean muscle, but there is an added benefit for dieters that may surprise you. Body composition plays a role in metabolism. According to the Mayo Clinic, the more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn—even while resting. The more calories your body burns, the less fat it stores. It’s that simple. And when you minimize fat and add lean muscle, you’ll not only feel better, but you’ll look better too.
How to Build Lean Muscle
Building lean muscle mass requires a two-fold plan. Include about 20 percent lean protein in your diet, and follow a proper exercise regimen.
Aerobic exercise burns a lot of calories and helps you to lose fat, but it doesn’t do much in the way of building lean muscle. You might appear to have more muscle, because by shedding fat, your body begins to show some definition that has been hiding under all that fat. Still, you’re not building a significant amount of lean muscle if your exercise program is limited to aerobics and/or stretching. You need to add weight-bearing exercises to build muscle.
Weight training does not mean that you’re going to “bulk up” like a body builder. It builds lean muscle mass, and it strengthens bones and helps women guard against osteoporosis. Combine stretching for flexibility, aerobics for cardio-vascular health and calorie burning and weight training for a balanced exercise regimen.
You don’t have to join a gym to take advantage of weight training. You can use a home gym, or you can follow an exercise program using hand-held weights and bands. You can also perform some weight training exercises aerobically, thereby increasing the effectiveness of the exercise and receiving double the benefits from a single exercise.
Ensuring that you eat enough protein and that your exercise program includes weight training are the keys to building lean muscle, which, in turn, will supercharge your diet and fitness program and help you to reach your goal that much quicker.