02 Dec Considerations for gaining lean muscle mass AND losing body fat mass
Over time, our health and fitness goals evolve. In the beginning, we might want to start exercising regularly and before we know it, with a mix of motivation and accountability (and hopefully some level of enjoyment), we might find ourselves making that a reality. And while starting to exercise might have been the original goal, we might shift our focus to fueling for our workouts with an aim to gain muscle mass or lose body fat. For those ready to eat and exercise with that mindset, here are a few tips to consider.
Considerations for gaining lean muscle mass AND losing body fat mass:
- Hydration: staying well-hydrated is equally important whether we’re trying to build or lose mass.
- Adequate sleep: When we rest, we care for our mind and body. When we think we’re doing nothing, we’re also regulating some of our hormones.
- Stress management: Speaking of hormones, our stress levels also directly impact hormone regulation. Teaching our body to self-regulate and engaging in healthy coping skills is important.
- Balanced workouts: Strength, cardio, and flexibility are different types of exercise and all three are essential to reaching our body composition goals.
- Meeting estimated energy needs: Even at rest, our body requires a certain number of calories for energy to fuel our body’s organs to keep us alive. When we are trying to adjust our body mass, we factor in height, weight, age, and physical activity level (sometimes we can even dive deeper into the type of physical activity for more specific recommendations). When the goal is gaining lean muscle mass, we have to ensure that we are not merely meeting the minimum calorie (energy) levels required by our body for maintenance, but instead we need to provide our body with enough calories to fuel our physical activity AND enable our body to build muscle mass. Conversely, as we’re trying to lose body fat mass, we adjust our calorie needs to assist our body in reaching that goal.
- Understanding macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, protein): “Macronutrients are the nutritive components of food that the body needs for energy and to maintain the body’s structure and systems,” says MD Anderson Wellness Dietitian Lindsey Wohlford. Macronutrients provide calories and by now we probably all understand that while calories are important, they are not created equal and some provide our bodies with more or less nutrition than others.
- Pre- and post workout nutrition: VeryWell shares, “Eating protein helps build and repair muscles. Carbohydrates stimulate an insulin response—and insulin is the hormone that prepares the muscle cells to absorb the protein.”
- This is why we often emphasize a meal or snack before working out that contains carbohydrates with some protein and after workouts we suggest protein with some carbohydrates.
- Whether we’re trying to gain or lose mass, pre- and post workout nutrition is essential.
By Victoria Emmitt RD