Medically reviewed and approved by Nataniel Josue M.D.
The fitness-centric life is not something that many want to have because of all the hard work, but the truth is that this is the best life you can live. It is all about eating healthy to gain muscle mass and lose weight. Many people find it challenging to adopt these habits, but it is not impossible. What should you eat to lose fat and gain muscle? Well, I’ve asked the same question before and, based on my experience, I’ll tell you how I got accomplished it:
According to several studies, in order to simultaneously gain muscle mass and lose weight, it is essential to have a diet high in protein, and moderate in carbohydrates and healthy fats. A bodybuilding routine should accompany this diet; one based on heavy basic exercises and aerobic exercises of a moderate intensity.
If you want to change your body, it is never too late. Being overweight can be very harmful to your health. Of course, when you lose weight, you are also going to want to gain a lot of muscle mass—you will want to see that change you have worked so hard for.
These reasons are what drove me to write this article for you. I will show you how to lose weight and gain the muscle mass you desire, so you can have that body you have always dreamed of. That which you thought impossible, today is the first step to make it possible.
But first, we must know why this transformation is important.
Why should you lose weight?
As you may have realized, slimming down to a healthy weight (and then keeping it off) is not easy. Yet, it is essential for your overall health because a healthy weitgh can help prevent and mitigate many diseases.
If you are overweight or obese, there are many more risks of developing serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, breathing problems, diabetes, and increased risk of cancer.
Maintaining a healthy weight will help you considerably reduce these risks, and it will help you feel much better about yourself. For starters, it will give you much more energy to enjoy your life.
What is considered overweight?
Being overweight is understood as having a body weight that exceeds 25 of our BMI (Body Mass Index); this operation is done by dividing one’s weight by their height. Overweightness is caused by excess body fat, or as a consequence of extra muscle—this is common in bodybuilders and powerlifters.
The latter situation happened to me during a routine checkup with my family doctor. My doctor did my BMI calculation, and it came out to 27. He instantly assumed that I should lose weight.
Honestly, I didn’t listen to him because I worked hard to get the muscle mass I have now. Below I’m going to link you to a calculator so you can quickly find out your own BMI.
Why is it important to maintain a healthy weight?
One of the main reasons you should maintain a healthy weight is your overally health. Taking care of your body will help you prevent obesity and serious diseases like Type 2 diabetes, cancer, nephropathy, hypertension, osteoarthritis or heart problems.
Quality of life
Another reason you should consider—and in my opinion the most important—is quality of life. When a person is at his or her ideal weight, it improves their ability to face any situation that involves some physical effort.
It improves mood and self-esteem
Having an appropriate body weight is excellent for your mood and self-esteem. Without physical health, we suffer many consequences; physical, but also mental ones.
It helps us to be active
Of course, having a healthy weight makes it easier to be active; and being active helps us know whether we are at an adequate weight.
By keeping proper weight, you will have much more desire to do those things that you enjoy, or that you want to learn to do. You will be much more efficient when exercising, and train harder without feeling tired or fatigued.
It helps reduce or avoid stress
Finally—and not the least important—losing weight helps you reduce and avoid stress. If you have an exercise routine at some point of your day, it will help you reduce stress dramatically. Our body produces more endorphins that make us relax and lower the weight of our stress.
Imagine, after a long day, unwinding with a run or brisk walk for 45 minutes. It allows you to think, be with yourself without worries, and it will increase your muscle mass while burning calories.
Recommendation: According to scientists, people who suffer from stress or anxiety can use physical exercises to distract themselves.
Why is it important to gain muscle mass?
When starting a weight loss diet, it is essential to know that the goal is not only losing kilos. If you only focus on this, you may be losing both fat and muscle mass.
Muscle mass performs vital functions. It gives strength, improves posture and movements, maintains body temperature, and protects the body’s critical parts. By developing muscle, we reduce visceral fat, and lower blood pressure, triglycerides and bad cholesterol.
Excess fat does not bring any benefit to your life or health, but more muscle mass does.
Keep in mind that increased strength improves quality of life. As we age, we lose muscle, and it is difficult for us to perform the activities we previously did with ease.
If you already have muscle mass, your metabolism is active and you have become accustomed to your quality of life, maintain all this by keeping body fat at bay.
Muscle building and fat loss diet plan
What should I eat to gain muscle mass without getting fat? As mentioned above, it is not possible to gain muscle mass just by exercising. To gain muscle mass, you must start a diet that improves your eating habits.
Below, I will list the best foods to gain muscle mass and lose body fat.
One of the main vegetables that you need to include in your diet is spinach. This vegetable is rich in the amino acid glutamine, which helps you develop muscle mass, increase resistance and tone the muscles.
The best way to eat spinach is in salads—it’s a pretty proteinic dish. If you find spinach unpleasant, don’t worry. There are still other foods you can eat.
The second is eggs. This is one of the most complete foods that exists; not only due to the nutrients it carries, but also because of the balance of amino acids in its protein.
Remember: most of the proteins are in the egg’s white and the fats in the yolk.
White meats—such as rabbit, turkey or chicken—may be your go-to foods for gaining muscle mass and losing weight. They cannot be missing from your diet.
White meats are very low in fat, and can effectively help you gain muscle mass. By eating white meat, you will be avoiding the fats of red meat. That is to say, that they do not cause you to generate fat in your body. Did you know that, for every 100 grams of chicken, you get 30 grams of protein?
You must be careful how you prepare chicken: avoid sauces, and cooking it in batter.
Low-fat dairy products are a good source of animal protein, and they include milk, yogurt, and cheese. These foods are essential for gaining muscle mass.
Believe it or not, tuna one of the richest fish in protein. This fish is very useful for building muscle mass. Its Omega-3 acids help promote the assimilation of proteins. It is a perfect aid to gain muscle mass.
You can use it in tortillas, or together with a salad; it is a perfect complement.
The banana is one of the most common foods that nutritionists recommend for those doing some muscular exercise. The banana contains much potassium, a large dose of magnesium and calcium, and also has multiple carbohydrates. Also, it is an excellent companion to any of the other foods you eat.
As we know, avocado is essential for many things. It has approximately 1000 milligrams of potassium, and is itself 70% water. Besides helping you gain muscle mass, avocado will keep your body hydrated during the day.
The avocado’s flavor is exceptional; try it in salads or as a dessert.
Legumes cannot be missing from a diet to gain muscle mass, because they provide a lot of protein to your body. They are also full of magnesium, which is why they help you avoid cramps and, of course, benefit your muscle fibers. If you are starting to do exercises, they will help you with muscle contractions.
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How many calories should I consume to build muscle and lose fat?
If you want to increase muscle mass, the average calorie intake is 3000 kcal per day. If the objective is to lose fat, it is advisable to reduce intake to 2500 kcal, while increasing the consumption of proteins and lowering carbohydrates and fats. An ideal percentage would be 40% protein, 40% carbohydrates and 20% fat.
That proportion has worked for me and I recommended for you to achieve your goal. However, since each person is unique, you should ultimately look for the appropriate intake for you.
The number of daily calories depends on your age, weight, height, and physical activity, so I’ll leave you with a calorie calculator below to find out your personal intake.
How to increase muscle mass and burn fat at the same time?
Know that it is not only about implementing a training routine to gain muscle mass. Nor is it just about eating right and healthy. There are three fundamental aspects involved in gaining muscle mass and losing weight:
- Training for hypertrophy
If you want to see visible changes, it’s all about having perseverance. Never give up on your journey to lead a healthy life and get away from bad habits. To live healthy is to potentially earn many more years of life, and to enjoy a much stronger body that is resistant and stable.
Exercises for men to gain muscle mass and burn fat (men)
I have already mentioned that it is not merely the exercise that will help you gain muscle mass. You also need a diet with the right macronutrients and proper rest.
I will now outline an exercise routine tailored to gain muscle mass and lower body fat.
Squats are, without a doubt, one of the best exercises to gain mass and lose fat. You can use it to lose weight, build muscle and tone your legs and buttocks.
Here’s the proper technique:
- Spread your legs a little and make a gesture like you’re sitting down.
- You must keep the weight on your heels.
- To avoid injuring your knees, don’t use much more than a 90-degree angle.
- In a good bodybuilding routine, you should do four series of about 15 repetitions.
This exercise is one of the basics, but it’s effective. It will help you expand your rib cage and build muscle in the upper body. To do this exercise:
- Lie down on a bench press.
- Put a weight on the bar that allows you to do 8-12 repetitions with good technique.
- If you manage to do more, you should add weight. If you are not able to reach 8 repetitions, you should remove weight from the bar.
The chin-ups are another exercise that should not be missing in your routine to increase muscle mass and lose weight. If you don’t manage to do at least six repetitions, I recommend that you do dorsal pull-ups.
The deadlift is another so-called “basic” exercise. This movement not only helps you gain strength, but also grows your muscles.
Also, the deadlift helps speed up your metabolism, which is essential for accelerating fat loss.
Crunches are one of the best ways to work the upper body and abdomen.
You have to lie on the floor—on a mat, or something comfortable for your back that allows you to remain straight. Lay on your back with your legs bent, then put your arms to the sides of your head, and raise your trunk as much as you can.
Bicycling or fast walking are aerobic exercises. This type of training is what you should do at least three times a week, since cardiovascular exercise usually makes you lose weight and improves coordination and resistance.
Do it for 15 minutes a day, strengthening your legs with moderate intensity. It is fine to go out in the street to ride a bicycle, run, or walk briskly.
For more effective muscle gain and weight loss, don’t do bodybuilding exercises too often. Do them no more than four to five days a week. If you are losing weight, it’s true you must avoid looking skeletal. So we recommend bodybuilding exercises, but combined with cardio and the diet mentioned above to help you lose body fat.
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In short, you first must know why it is so important to lose that extra weight you have. Maintaining a stable and healthy weight will boost your mental and emotional health.
Good nutrition and cardio are the keys to gaining muscle mass and burning fat. There are also unique strength routines for this goal, such as squats and sit-ups. But it’s not all exercise; gaining muscle mass must be accompanied by adequate rest.