How to Maintain Muscle Mass While Losing Weight

Woman lifting weights
Include resistance training to maintain muscle. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

People typically talk about weight loss when they want to get in shape. But the real objective should be fat loss, as opposed to weight. When you lose weight, you want to shed fat from your frame while maintaining muscle. If you're not careful, you can lose muscle along with fat. Do things the right way to ensure that your weight loss is truly from fat.

Step 1

Reduce your calorie intake by between 500 and 1,000 calories per day. This will result in weight loss in the range of 1 to 2 pounds per week. A greater calorie reduction may result in more loss, but outside of this safe range you're likely to lose muscle as well.

Step 2

Maintain your protein intake. Although you should be reducing your overall calorie intake, you need to maintain your protein intake to maintain muscle. You should consume up to 0.9 grams of protein daily per pound of body weight.

Step 3

Eat foods that are nutrient-rich, but not energy-dense. Choose high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains and avoid high-fat foods and those with added sugar. This will help you reduce your calories while getting the nutrients that your muscles need.

Step 4

Add exercise to your weekly routine. According to the University of Illinois, physical activity can aid weight loss and help maintain muscle mass. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week. The CDC also recommends doing at least two resistance workouts per week that workout all your major muscle groups.

Warning

Check with your doctor before starting a new weight-loss program.

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