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Build Muscle and Lose Fat

By : Chris | Published : Monday February 20, 2012 | Posted in : Weight Loss | Comments
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Burning fat and losing belly fat, particularly for men, can be extremely difficult. Men naturally store the majority of the fat they retain around their stomachs so it makes getting a toned and flat tummy tricky. The good news is there have been a lot of discoveries made that can help both men and women get into great shape. The problem is that it goes against what most already think about weight loss and building muscle in general.

The most common belief is that building muscle and burning fat are two different goals. The former requires lifting huge amounts of weight down at the gym and massive meals, while losing weight involves calorie counting and long periods of aerobic exercise. While true to some degree, there is a vastly more efficient way of building muscle and losing fat. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to become a bodybuilder, but that the process of gaining muscle mass actually promotes weight loss.

It’s a bit of a strange concept to understand at first, but it makes sense when you analyse what actually happens. Our bodies require calories ingested by food to run properly, they get “burned” as fuel throughout the day. When people put on weight and store fat, it’s because the amount of calories they are taking in is larger than the number of calories getting burned. This can be because of lack of exercise, activity increases calorie burn, but also due to poor diet. Any calories that aren’t used during the day are stored in the body and this leads to excess weight.

At this point normally people would simply reduce their calorie intake and increase their amount of exercise to help boost their metabolism and increase the burning of calories. Once the calorie deficit is higher than the intake, the body will naturally have to adapt and burn the stored weight to cope with the increased activity.

However, this process can take a lot of time and dieting is not something that everyone can effectively do over the long term. Often people lose weight only to put it back on once their diets are over. Being healthy and having the body you want is all about maintenance.

This is where building muscle really comes into the equation in terms of weight loss. Simply because muscle burns more calories. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be which will help you burn fat better than any supplement. So by building muscle first, focusing on gaining quality mass, once you adapt your training and eating regime to lose fat, the entire process becomes so much easier.

Naturally the next question is, how do I build quality muscle? Well first things first, you will need to focus a little on your diet. No drastic changes required, but just some guidelines. The most important thing you will need to do is eat balanced meals. They should be made up of protein, vegetables or fruit, good fats and carbohydrates.

Diet

Good protein sources include: beef, ostrich, chicken and fish.

Vegetables and fruit generally are 100% healthy: spinach, broccoli, apples and bananas etc.

Good fats from sources like: nuts and milk.

And carbohydrates from: brown rice, whole wheat pasta and basically any normal carbohydrate but preferably unprocessed.

Healthy Food

The difficult part here is putting it all together and then breaking meals down during the day. You should aim to eat 5 meals (and two snacks) a day as this will also assist in speeding up your metabolism, while at the same time helping your muscles recover and therefore build up more. You don’t have to count calories unless you want to, but these meals should equate to the size of a side plate. Every day your meals should look something like this:

  • Breakfast - two hardboiled eggs, small bowl of cooked oats with honey and one apple.
  • Snack #1 - one banana, a handful of walnuts.
  • Lunch - grilled chicken breast with brown rice, portion of vegetables.
  • Snack #2 - one orange and a small glass of milk
  • Dinner - baked salmon with a baked potato

You can mix and match as you like and as suits you, but try and keep the fundamentals of each meal the same. Remember in the end it will be about maintaining your weight loss and shape naturally, so it’s important not to cut out any specific food group too much. After you’ve looked at your dietary habits, you can now move onto exercise itself.

Training

You don’t need a gym membership to build muscle, although the weights you could find there will make the process of losing fat and building muscle a lot easier. If you’re looking to train at home, you should try and get your hands on some dumbbells, straight barbell and possibly a pull-up bar. Most can be found online and are a fraction of the cost of what they used to be. Either way for building muscle you need to have intense workouts rather than long ones. Try and make them no longer than 30-40 minutes, but make sure each exercise you do is really making your body work. The easiest way to do this is also to simply shorten your recovery time between specific exercises. So instead of taking a break in between moving from push-ups to bicep curls, do them back to back, and then rest for up to 90 seconds.

Train Hard

By decreasing rest time and focusing on large muscles groups rather than targeted areas, you can increase muscle quickly. Remember for building muscle, try and do two sets with 8-12 repetitions per exercise (Remember a rep is how many times you do the exercise before stopping, a set is how many times you do those reps). Essentially one set should look like this:

  • 10 x Flat Benchpress + 8 Wide-Arm Pull ups

A set like that would only need to be repeated twice for good results with no break in between, and you should try and pair different muscle groups together. Some of the best exercises for gaining muscle are Deadlifts, Squats, Benchpress, Pull ups, Clean Presses and Sprints. Once you have gained the amount of muscle you are happy with, reduce your training from “super-sets” like this to standard exercises focusing on building strength i.e. Heavier weight, 4 sets with exercises between 6-8 reps.

For building muscle you should plan to take at least two months before changing training to strength rather than growth. This should be enough time for you to build some high quality muscle. Once you do, you can decrease the amount of carbohydrates you eat for two to three weeks while you continue to train. This, coupled with your body’s increased metabolism, will burn the fat off easily. It will then come down to looking at yourself in the mirror and finding the point that you’re happy with before resuming normal carb intake.

Most importantly though, through all the training, remember to rest. DO NOT over train yourself or rush anything. You can destroy muscle fibre and reduce results by trying to train or diet too much. Take things slow and monitor yourself. It also goes without saying that we also advise you to consult your doctor before making any drastic changes to your health, training and diet included.

Conclusion

All of this is quite a lot to take in, so if you’re serious about making a definitive and long lasting change, give yourself three to six months to do so. While that seems like a long time, you want to make changes that last forever, not just for a month. Remember that diet is the most important part of weight loss and muscle gain; training only assists the process. Remember to practice caution and good judgement when exercising. And remember to rest and monitor yourself.

Please comment below if you have any questions or suggestions about the above post. Building muscle and burning fat is a much desired goal, so any input is greatly appreciated.

Remember as well, if you have particular difficulty in losing weight and it’s related to a high fat diet, consider taking Xenical to help block nearly a third of fat absorption.

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