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5 Tips for Increasing Muscle Mass

Can you lose weight and gain muscle mass at the same time? It is possible, but to be done correctly it requires strategizing, consistency and patience. This is called body recomposition. Body recomposition is the act of altering one's physique through the loss of body fat and the simultaneous development of muscle mass.

Here are some key components if your goal is to increase muscle mass WHILE decreasing fat mass:

1. Consume adequate energy

AKA eat enough. Large caloric deficits result in rapid weight loss, which can include loss of muscle mass. In addition to this, your muscles require carbohydrates for energy, and if athletes are consistently not meeting their carbohydrate needs, muscle energy stores will be depleted leading to decreased athletic performance. Research has shown that a slight caloric deficit (~250-500kcal/day) can preserve lean muscle mass while losing weight but the amount will vary from athlete to athlete depending on their current body composition, age, gender, activity level and more.

2. Prioritize protein

Research has shown that diets rich in protein can preserve lean muscle mass and decrease fat mass. Current recommendations suggest protein intakes between 1.6-2.4g/kg body weight (or ~0.7-1g/lb body weight). What does that look like? Well, for a 68kg (150lb) athlete, they would require 108-163g/day. The caloric deficit and type and intensity of training performed by the athlete will influence at what end of this range is best for them.

3. Strength train

Strength training is a crucial part to building muscle as it will give your muscles a reason to grow. There is no "super food" that will build your muscles in the absence of strength training.

4. Adequate sleep

Sleep is important for overall health and should be a priority for everyone. For athletes, not sleeping enough can impair performance, energy levels and recovery. Inadequate sleep has been shown to impact body composition by impairing muscle building and increasing fat production. It also decreases testosterone levels and disrupts our appetite hormones resulting in less leptin (fullness hormone) & more ghrelin (hunger hormone).⁣⁣

5. Eat whole foods and fibre

High intakes of highly processed foods is associated with increased fat gain. Consuming whole foods, especially those high in fibre (such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes…) have been shown to help with fat loss.

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