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Weight Loss And Muscle: Lose Weight While Maintaining Or Building Muscle Mass

Updated on March 1, 2013

Fat Loss

Consuming fewer calories and burning more leads to fat loss. As you lose fat you usually lose weight. Exercising to burn more calories has worked well for me. I can lose over 2 pounds of fat weight and a few inches off my waist in a week by exercising a lot. The activity does not really matter as long as it uses a lot of energy. You can do whatever you feel like doing but it should tire you out and last at least half an hour. I often exercise for an hour or more while I watch TV.

Losing 1 pound in a week is a good goal. It is enough to realize that you are making progress and it is something most people can accomplish. However to have a better idea of how much fat you have lost you should measure the areas of your body that have a lot of fat. The fat comes off all over but I usually measure the circumference of my stomach. You should measure your problem areas. To tell the fat apart from the rest of you body you can try grabbing it with your hands. It is soft, easy to move and just below the skin. You may also have some fat inside your body.

Weighing yourself does not really tell you how much fat you have. So it is not a very good way to find out how much fat you lost. I recommend weighing, measuring and grabbing so you have a better idea of your progress.


Muscle Loss

If you do not use your muscles you lose them. So a lack of exercise or not giving your muscles enough of a challenge can cause you to lose muscle. Too much exercise can also cause you to lose muscle. After straining your muscles they need time to recover. If you do not give them time they need to heal it can result in muscle loss.

Doing a lot of cardio exercises can cause you to lose muscle even if you give your muscles enough time to recover. It is not because cardio is not good for maintaining or building muscle but because a lot of people just go through the motions. They do not push themselves hard enough.

Another reason is because the body tries to optimize itself. Biking is easier if I am leaner and weigh less so my body may get rid of some extra muscle. I can stop the loss of muscle by giving my body a reason to keep it. The muscles you get from doing endurance exercises are smaller than the ones you get from strength training. Doing intense cardio exercises can give you bigger muscles.

Your diet can cause you to lose muscle. To maintain or build muscle you need to have a healthy diet. Starving yourself or only eating specific types of food is hard on your body. Diets designed for rapid weight loss will probably cause you to lose both fat and muscle. If it looks like you are losing muscle but you are not becoming weaker then you are probably just losing the fat that is on top of the muscle.

Me curling a heavy dumbbell.
Me curling a heavy dumbbell. | Source
Me doing side planks.
Me doing side planks. | Source

Maintaining Or Building Muscle Mass

To build muscle and lose fat at the same time I focus on doing more with my muscles. I try to improve every time. My muscles adapt by becoming bigger and stronger. It also allows me to burn more calories. So it is a win win situation. It takes time to build muscle. The first thing that you notice is an increase in strength. You may be able to improve every day or two but it can take weeks to notice an increase in the size of your muscles.

If you just want to maintain your muscles you should not be doing more or less. Continue to do what you have been doing and your muscle mass should stay the same. When people exercise for weight loss they often do the same thing over and over again. They do not improve. So their muscles do not get bigger or stronger and they do not burn more calories.

Weight Loss

Your body weight is made up of fat and muscle among other things. Even though building muscle increases your muscle weight it can still cause your total body weight to decrease. As the muscle weight increases the fat weight usually decreases a lot faster. The people that gain weight while building muscle either have very little extra fat left or they are trying to gain weight.

I do a lot of cardio and build muscle while losing weight because of the reduced fat. After most of the fat is gone the weight loss slows down and eventually stops. If I continue to build muscle my weight starts to increase. That is what often happens when I get in shape for summer. Losing weight can be difficult when you want to maintain or lose muscle. You need muscle to burn calories. If you focus on building muscle through weight lifting and cardio you can become a fat burning machine. Instead of burning 300 calories during your workout you could burn over 1,000 calories.

For the people that want to avoid building muscle while attempting to get rid of fat I recommend you check out pictures and videos of athletes. There are a lot of lean muscular athletes that are skinny because their muscles allow them to burn a lot of calories. The fastest way for me to lose weight is to make my muscles stronger.

If your goal is to reduce your body weight or become skinnier you should still consider increasing your muscle mass. When you have enough muscle to get rid of the fat switch to maintaining the muscle.


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    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 5 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      Thanks for this encouraging guide. Time to trim off a few pounds! Voted up and useful.

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      I agree that lifting heavy weights helps to prevent muscle loss when trying to lose weight. Thanks for sharing these important tips! Take care, Kelley