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Diet and Exercise for Muscle Mass Increase and Subcutaneous Fat Reduction

Many people start with a simple weight loss goal like, “I want to lose 10 kilograms.” It’s a great goal, but unfortunately, it’s too vague. 10 kilograms of what? Fat?

If yes, how will you know when you achieve that goal? By stepping on a scale? Even if you see your body weight dropping by 10 kilograms, how can you be sure that it’s all fat? The truth is, you can’t.

Instead of focusing on weight loss, concentrate on changing your body composition.

To change your body composition, you won’t have just one goal (like losing weight or gaining muscle). You’ll have two:

Reduce fat mass
Increase muscle mass

What type of exercise is needed to increase muscle mass and reduce body fat?

Incorporate more strength training and exercises such as chest press, bicep curls, squats, lunges, deadlifts, shoulder press, bent-over rows, pull-ups, back extensions, crunches, and similar into your plan.

This type of training will stimulate muscle growth or muscle hypertrophy. If the other steps are satisfied, it will lead to an increase in muscle mass, which is our ultimate goal.

Muscle hypertrophy isn’t something exclusive to bodybuilders; it’s a positive change you can make for your body. You’ll feel better, perform daily tasks more easily due to body stabilization, and increase strength.

Pay attention to the intensity of your exercises and the number of repetitions in each set. Fortunately, if you start strength training for muscle building, it will likely also reduce your fat mass.

Increasing body mass will raise your body’s caloric requirements to maintain itself, and the increased calorie demand may lead your body to use extra fat for energy.

Calories burned during resistance training will also accelerate fat loss.

Having enough muscle mass is essential for various reasons, including increased strength and enhanced immune system function. Muscle mass will make you look stronger with well-defined muscle tone.

Cardio vs. Resistance Training
Decrease your cardio program and increase the number of resistance training sessions. Excessive aerobic training (cardio) can lead to muscle loss, which is something we want to avoid.

If you enjoy cardio exercises, combine them with traditional strength workouts and keep them under 30 minutes, with a heart rate not exceeding 60%. Reserve cardio exercises for after completing your strength workouts.

Both types of training play different roles in achieving your goal. While some may downplay the importance of strength training or weightlifting in a fat-burning program, completely neglecting this type of exercise is a mistake.

Strength training is crucial as it helps maintain existing muscle mass and ensures it doesn’t decrease along with your fat. Increased muscle mass is associated with higher overall caloric needs, and the more calories you need, the more mass you lose.

What kind of diet is crucial for increasing muscle mass and reducing body fat?

The basic principle of fat loss nutrition is deceptively simple: it’s all about burning more calories per day than you consume. This is called maintaining a “caloric deficit.” You can achieve a caloric deficit in two ways: by limiting calorie intake and exercising.

By consuming fewer calories than usual, your body will respond by sourcing the necessary calories from its fat mass since it’s no longer getting those calories from food and drinks.

You can further increase the caloric deficit by exercising.

Both strength training and cardio exercises will cause your body to burn more calories than you did before starting your training, leading to a likely caloric deficit.

Besides achieving a caloric deficit or at least consuming as many calories as needed to maintain your current mass, the macronutrient ratio in your diet is equally important.

Carbohydrates in food

How many carbohydrates a day is enough?

Carbohydrate intake should make up about 40% of daily energy needs, and it’s advisable to prioritize complex, whole carbohydrates such as oats, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, or brown rice.

Limit the intake of simple, white carbohydrates like white bread, white pasta, added sugars, candies, etc.

In other words, carbohydrate intake varies from person to person. Generally, carbohydrates contain about 4 calories per gram. This means that if your daily goal is to consume 2000 calories a day, you need to intake between 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates daily.

Experts suggest that someone looking to lose weight should limit daily carbohydrate intake to between 100 and 150 grams.

Fats in food
Fats are lipids, and fat intake should not exceed 30% of daily energy needs. Prefer plant-based fats such as olive or pumpkin seed oil.

In general, if our daily goal is 2000 calories, the recommendation is to consume between 44 and 78 grams of fat through food in one day. Fats are essential for the normal functioning of the body.

Fats can be categorized as “healthy” and “unhealthy.” “Healthy fats” are further divided into:

Monounsaturated – found in foods like olive oil, nuts, and their oils. Fatty acids from these foods regulate blood fats.
Polyunsaturated – refers to omega-3 and omega-6 unsaturated fatty acids. They are also called essential fats and are found in foods like soy, fish, nuts, and plant oils.
These types of fats do not contribute to the development of cardiovascular diseases in humans, weight gain, or other issues. The blame for these problems lies with the so-called “unhealthy fats.”

It is necessary to be moderate in fat consumption and eat a varied diet every day.

Proteins in food
For maintaining/increasing muscle mass, it’s crucial to consume enough protein through food.

Proteins are needed for the construction and regeneration of muscle tissue, hair and nail growth, hormone production, improved immune system, and the renewal of red blood cells.

Any excess protein is burned and converted into energy or stored as glycogen or fat.

Excess protein cannot be stored in the body for later, so it needs to be ingested daily through food.
The best sources of protein are in animal-based foods. However, these foods often come with a considerable amount of fat, making them excellent for gaining weight as they are more caloric.

Recommended protein sources: White meat (turkey, chicken), lean red meat (veal, beef, lamb…), fish (salmon, tuna…), eggs, legumes (peas, beans, chickpeas, lentils…), cheese, whey protein, Icelandic skyr or Greek yogurt, hemp protein, milk, seeds, and nuts.

How much protein do we need to intake daily?

Proteins should make up about 30% of the daily energy intake, or about 1.5-2.5g/kg of body weight.

To conclude…

Balanced nutrition is the key to everything. Try to organize your daily menu by counting calories so you don’t intake more than you need.

If you’re really busy and feel like you can’t manage anything, Juicefast prepares ready-made meals for you! To ensure you get enough protein in a day, we’ve prepared ready-made protein meals for you for 5 working days a week.

Set short-term goals on a weekly basis and stick to them. We are confident that success will follow in that case! Good luck!

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