If you're looking to achieve a weight loss goal, your goal should actually be to improve body composition. Body composition takes a look at body fat and muscle mass, not overall weight. By focusing specifically on decreasing body fat while maintaining (or even increasing) muscle mass, it can help to:
maintain insulin sensitivity
maintain (or even increase) metabolic rate
maintain bone density
maintain or increase toning
provide more flexibility with the amount and type of carbs you can eat
Unfortunately, most people are simply looking at the scale and not addressing body fat reduction specifically. This method can lead to a loss of muscle and possibly increased insulin resistance, reduced metabolic rate, reduced bone density and make it harder to maintain the weight loss that they've already achieved.
So today, I'm sharing 5 ways to help train your body to burn fat and not muscle so you can shift your focus to body recomposition for longer lasting weight loss results.
#1. Resistance Train
In order to maintain muscle during the weight loss process, you need to send a signal to your body that those muscles are even needed. This is where resistance training comes in. Resistance training includes activities like body weight exercises, calisthenics, free weights, bands, Cross Fit and others. Adding in 3-5 days of resistance training per week sends the signal to your body that you need to keep (and maybe even add more) muscle rather than get rid of it.
Just doing exercises like cardio won't signal your body to hold onto muscle mass. In fact, there's even some evidence that cardio can cause you to lose muscle mass.(1) If you're currently using cardio, make sure to add in at least 3 days of resistance training per week to help maintain your muscle mass.
You can checkout the 3 week resistance training workout program included in the 21 Day Intermittent Fasting Program HERE.
#2. Eat Low Glycemic Load Foods
Low glycemic load foods are those that don't cause big spikes in blood sugar. By reducing these big spikes, we can help the body to naturally balance blood sugar levels and make it easier to shift back into a state of burning fat as fuel (metabolic flexibility). Higher glycemic load foods cause big spikes and falls in blood sugar which leads to unbalanced blood sugar levels and can make it more difficult to switch back into using fat as fuel.
Lower glycemic load food options include foods such as carrots, leafy greens, berries, bell pepper, herbs, broccoli, cauliflower and so much more. Medium/high glycemic load foods include options like banana, grains, flour, potatoes and added sugar. You can get a complete list of low glycemic load foods by clicking the related blog post below.
#3. Stop Snacking
It was previously believed that snacking helped to reduce hunger and therefore helped with achieving a weight loss goal. However, recent research has shown that eating fewer times per day and focusing on meals (not snacks) actually helps to prevent hunger better than grazing.(2)
Snacking can also keep the body in the "carbohydrate burning" mode by never fully allowing the storing hormone insulin to dip down. This behavior can therefore reduce metabolic flexibility and make it harder to tap into fat burning.
#4: Get Enough Protein
In order to keep your muscle while also burning fat, you need both the muscle stimulus (resistance training) and the tools to repair your muscle (protein). If you only exercise and don't eat enough protein, you'll actually end up losing muscle mass instead of maintaining or increasing it.
When it comes to eating enough protein, quality and quantity both matter equally. I like to focus on high DIAAS proteins with my clients so that they can get the most bang for their buck and see results faster. One easy tool to bump up your protein intake from a high quality source is by incorporating a protein smoothie using my zero sugar vanilla protein powder. You can get a free download with 10 high protein recipes when you purchase my pasture-raised zero sugar protein powder HERE.
#5: Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting helps to hone further in on the metabolic flexibility aspect of the weight loss journey. By spending short periods of time fasting each day, this allows the storing hormone insulin to naturally dip down and shift into a state of fat burning. Plus, Intermittent Fasting has been found to help naturally raise growth hormone levels, which is one of the hormones responsible for protecting muscle mass from breaking down.(3)
I generally recommend 14-16 hours of daily Intermittent Fasting. This length allows most individuals to reap the benefits of Intermittent Fasting while still allowing for time to eat enough protein during their eating window. Although each person's specific Intermittent Fasting length will vary. Check out my free Intermittent Fasting schedule quiz by clicking the button below.
Psssst... curious how long YOUR Intermittent Fast should be? Take my FREE Intermittent Fasting Schedule Quiz by clicking the button below!
Unlock the Intermittent Fasting tips, meal plans and recipes that have helped thousands of men and women around the world with the Complete Intermittent Fasting Bundle!
100+ recipes, 8 weeks of meal planning, science-backed Intermittent Fasting tips and so much more!
Head over HERE to get started!
Autumn Elle Nutrition