Eating Plan for Building Muscle & Losing Fat

To build muscle and lose fat, you need to carefully create and meticulously follow a healthy eating plan. The process of building muscle is very different from that of losing fat, but by making changes to your eating plan and the beverages you drink, you can do both successfully.

Young woman sitting on bench press in gym.
Credit: Andersen Ross/Blend Images/Getty Images

Pick Up the Protein

Eating sufficient protein is vital for building muscle and also has a positive impact on fat loss. Protein allows your muscles to recover and repair after they have been strained during a heavy workout, which is what ultimately leads to muscle growth. Protein takes a lot of energy to digest and is also very filling, leaving you satisfied for longer after meals -- meaning you are less likely to snack and eat too many calories. Men should aim to eat 0.85 gram per kilogram of body weight per day, while women should aim for 0.75 gram per kilogram of body weight per day.

Don't Fear Fats

Including healthy fats in your diet is very important when you want to build muscle and lose body fat. Healthy fats such as those found in nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, butter from grass-fed cows and small amounts of dairy are excellent sources of energy and ensure healthy nerve and muscle function -- important when you are exercising a lot to build up your lean muscle. Though it's counterintuitive, eating healthy fats has been associated with lower levels of body fat and easier fat loss.

Be Conscious About Carbs

Carbohydrates are vital to include in your diet if you plan to build muscle. Carbs provide your muscles with glycogen, which allows them to exert sufficient effort during workouts so that they will begin to develop in size. Eating high-carb foods, such as sweet potatoes, whole grains, rice or fruit, will give you enough energy to work out at intense levels while also having stable energy for the rest of the day. However, too many carbs can lead to slowed fat loss, as any excess will be stored as fat for use later. Aim to eat about a fistful of carbs at each meal for the best results.

Drink Smart

What you drink has just as much impact on your body composition as what you eat. If you aim to lose body fat, you should really only be drinking water and unsweetened tea and coffee. Ditching sodas, fruit juice and alcohol will really speed up the process. As for building muscle, including some milk or protein shakes in your diet can be useful if you struggle to eat sufficient amounts of protein regularly.

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