Only recently have nutritionists and sports scientists started to realise that in order to lose weight, gain muscle. It seems strange but makes perfect sense when you take a closer look at the process. After all, muscle requires a lot of nutrients to keep it in perfect condition so naturally someone with more muscle will burn more calories, and so lose weight easier, than someone with less muscle.
There is something of a problem here though - and that is that gaining muscle requires additional nutrients in the diet typically, whilst weight loss requires fewer calories than are required for maintainance levels. There are a number of books which have mereged recently however which aim to solve this riddle. It seems that in order to lose weight and gain muscle at the same time you should eat a similar number of calories to your standard level (as worked out using one of the many online calorie calculators) but to consume these nutrients in a very specific form. That form, of course, is in a low fat, moderate carb and high protein diet. Carbohydrate sources are selected carefully so that the body has to work hard to break them down into a useable form, thus slowing the flow of sugars into the blood and reducing the chances of any being stored as fat. Ideal carb sources include brown rice, wholewheat pasta and a range of non-starchy vegetables.
Add into this mix low fat and high protein sources like cottage cheese, egg whites (or substitute) and a range of meats and you have the basis of a diet that will enable you to lose weight and gain muscle. Exercising with weights should be hard and you should aim for heavy weights that can only be lifted for around 10 reps. Keep increasing the weight lifted during each workout so as to "force" your muscles to grow and adapt. What seems to work well is a workout 2-3 times a week that focuses on each muscle group in turn, and exercising each with two different exercises. Thus, you would do 10 reps of a bicep exercise (such as a bicep curl) then 10 reps of another bicep exercise (such as a hammer curl) then move into the next muscle group.
A workout should take no more than around 45 minutes as after this time your body has a a harder time coping with the intensity of the workout and frankly, if you feel you could keep going for another half an hour to an hour, it's probably the case that you're not actually working out hard enough. When I have finished one of these workouts I can barely move my muscles are so tired. You may find initially that you do put on a small amount of weight but this shouldn't be a major concern as don't forget that muscle weighs more than the fat you are trying to lose so this exchange may cause a few peaks and troughs to appear. However over the longer term you should find your fat levels start to drop whilst your lean muscle mass increases, enabling you to lose weight and gain muscle together.
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