Lose Fat And Gain Muscle: The Essential Guide
If you google how to get in shape you will get an overwhelming amount of information. This blog aims to summarize the most up to date studies on the topic and offer some key points that individuals should focus on when trying to improve their body composition.
1. Tracking calories
Knowing how many calories you consume on a weekly basis is the first pillar to successfully reach your target weight. Whether is keto diet or intermittent fasting, these popular diets work by restricting the number of calories that you consume. Here is how to do it. Track your calories and bodyweight for 2 weeks. If your weight has not changed, it means that's the number of calories your body needs to maintain your current weight (maintenance calories). Depending on your goal, you can decide whether to increase your caloric intake (caloric surplus) or reduce your calories (caloric deficit). It is recommenced to increase or decrease your calories by 200 Kcal a day and monitor how your bodyweight changes. If you are starting from a high body fat percentage, you can reduce your daily Kcal by more than 200 Kcal.
2. Protein intake
Proteins help with muscle recovery and to build new muscle tissue. For this reason, it is extremely important for athletes. For those who do resistance training, it Is recommenced to consume between 1.6 to 2.2g of proteins x kg of body weight. If you are bulking you can stay on the lower end of this spectrum while if you are cutting it is advisable to consume a higher number of proteins to make sure you do not lose muscle during the process.
3. Resistance training
Weight training is the best form of training to get stronger and build muscle (hypertrophy). There are 3 mechanisms for developing muscle hypertrophy: mechanical tension, muscle damage and metabolic stress. Mechanical tension is created by using a heavy load and performing exercises through a full range of motion. Muscle damage largely comes from slow eccentric contractions, which is when the muscle lengthens (E.g., Squat descent). Metabolic stress is created by lifting moderate to light weights for higher repetitions. Based on this information, a training program that aims to maximize muscle growth should combine low reps (6-8) with heavy weight and high reps (10-12) with light weight. You should aim to train at least two times a week. Most of your training should focus on exercises that train multiple muscles at the same time (compound exercises). Some examples are squat, deadlift, bench press and pulldown. Other important variables to consider are the volume of work and intensity.
4. Cardiovascular training
Cardiovascular training can be broadly divided into two categories: high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and low-intensity steady-state cardio (LISS). Both are effective in burning calories. Choosing one over the other should be based on personal preference. The advantage of HIIT is that it burns more calories in a short period of time. However, it is more taxing for the nervous system and generally puts more stress on certain joints. Therefore, if you have any joint condition or you are overweight, LISS might be more indicated for you.
Recovery is often overlooked by athletes. However, it is vital in order to optimize results and reduce the risk of injuries. Research shows that people who sleep less than 7 hours per night are 1.7 times more at risk of getting injured. Furthermore, sleep deprivation often leads to other unhealthy habits, such as skipping training and falling off your diet plan. Some recommendations to improve your sleep are: have a regular and consistent sleep pattern, avoid screen time 2 hours before going to sleep, avoid caffeine after 4pm and try meditation before sleeping.