While fat does not literally turn into muscle, you can create a leaner body composition by losing fat and building muscle tissue at the same time. You shed fat by burning more calories than you eat, and you create muscle through physical activity. Although old-fashioned diet and exercise are key, adding a few tricks to your routine can help you reach your goals faster. See your doctor before starting a new weight-loss plan.
Perform Interval Training
High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, helps you burn more calories than steady-state cardio, resulting in faster fat loss. The short bursts of vigorous activity, paired with slower recovery periods, throw off your body’s normal rhythms, according to IDEA Health and Fitness Association. This forces your body to repair itself, burning more calories for a metabolism boost that lasts hours after the activity.
Try 30- to 60-second intervals at near-maximum effort, with two- to four-minute recovery periods at an easier pace. You may walk, jog, bike or perform any other type of cardio for HIIT.
Do Compound Strength Training
Choosing compound exercises for your weight-training routine helps you burn more calories while targeting more muscles. Leg extensions, for example, target only your quadriceps, while squats target your quads, hamstrings, glutes and abs. As you build greater muscle mass, your metabolism will increase, resulting in faster weight loss.
Choose squats, deadlifts, bench presses and dips, which involve bending multiple joints, in contrast to isolation exercises such as leg extensions and bicep curls, which involve only one joint.
A good night’s rest can help you maintain a healthy weight while preventing the muscle loss that sometimes occurs with dieting. Lack of sleep makes you crave sugary foods for quick energy, potentially sabotaging your diet.
Try getting 8.5 hours of sleep each night. A study published in the “Annals of Internal Medicine” in 2010 revealed that dieters who slept just 5.5 hours per night lost 55 percent less fat and 60 percent more fat-free body mass (water, bone and skeletal muscle) than those who slept 8.5 hours per night.
You must reduce calories to lose fat, but you also need enough nutrients to enable lean tissue growth — and severely restricting calories can foil your muscle-building plans. Muscle development requires protein, and the UCLA Student Development Health Education recommends eating 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight to develop muscles, but no more than 1 gram per pound.
Choose lean proteins like fish and egg whites, and build the rest of your diet around vegetables, fruits and whole grains, such as oatmeal and brown rice.
References & Resources
- IDEA Health and Fitness Association: Interval Training: The New and Better Way to Train Your Clients?
- IDEA Health and Fitness Association: Quickest Way to Lose Weight for Those Stressful Corporate and Business Professionals
- American College of Sports Medicine: Metabolism is Modifiable with the Right Lifestyle Changes
- HelpGuide.org: Emotional Eating
- Annals of Internal Medicine: Insufficient Sleep Undermines Dietary Efforts to Reduce Adiposity
- University of Minnesota Medical School: Weight Loss Recommendations
- UCLA Student Development Health Education: Bulking Up