Are you looking to change your body composition and shed some body fat? If you do, chances are that you are on a low-carb diet. I read a study that checked why low-carb diets seem to be working well to manipulate your body composition.
The result might surprise you.
What they concluded after having researched on 132 participants, is that the key part is being on a high-protein diet. They compared high-protein diets with low carb and normal carbs, but also normal protein diets with low and normal carbs.
Another study compared a higher protein diet with a lower protein diet, while being in an energy deficit and on an intense exercise program. They concluded that the high protein diet (2,4g/kg) was more efficient than the low protein diet (1,2g/kg) in promoting lean body mass and loss of fat mass.
These studies have a few things in common:
- All of the test subjects were restricting calories, and
- all of them lost body weight and body fat.
- The best results were reached by the groups on the high-protein diets.
This is important for you, if you’re goal is improving body composition while holding onto as much muscle and lean body mass (not the same) as possible.
The 3 keys to loose fat and keep your muscle
If you want to go on this journey of fat loss in an efficient manner (i.e. save as much muscle as you can), you need to focus on the following points:
- maintain a caloric deficit,
- protein should make a big part of your macros; I’d suggest, based on these studies, for healthy people around 2,5g/kg lean body mass and
- at least 3 session a week of heavy resistance training and
- more movement in daily life (NEAT)
A caloric deficit is the single most important part of any weight loss diet. It doesn’t matter if it’s keto, paleo, vegan, zone, SAD or whatever is trending.
Only if you consume less than you need over a certain amount of time, you’ll get leaner. This doesn’t mean the kind of diet style you pick isn’t important.
It is. If you have a diet that is part of your lifestyle that you can see yourself living in the future (years to come), your weight loss attempt has a much higher chance of success because you’ll be actually able to stick with it (read here why weight loss diets don’t work).
Lean Muscle Mass Signalling: High-Protein Diet
The high amount of protein is important. Muscle is a very expensive tissue. This means it costs your body a lot of energy to keep on your body. While you only need a few gram of essential amino acids to be healthy, it is hard for your body to keep your muscles if not enough protein is consumed – even if you eat enough (which you aren’t on a weight loss diet per definition).
If you consume higher amounts of protein on a regular basis, you show your body that, despite the fact that you are in a situation of mild starvation (your weight loss diet), protein is available and can be used to keep your muscle. But this isn’t good enough.
Use it or Lose it: Resistance Training
That’s why you have to keep doing resistance training, preferably 3-5 times a week (don’t do cardio for weight loss). This now, will urge your body to keep all the muscle it can for the simple fact because you apparently need it urgently (use it or lose it). Otherwise you wouldn’t constantly make them work so hard.
At this point your body will use the protein you consume to fuel and repair your lean muscle mass, while it keeps everything going from the remaining calories.
As you are in a deficit and your body has the biggest energy source (your muscles covered), it goes to your fat reserves and uses them you keep your energy needs in balance.
How can I help you on your journey?
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If, at any point you need help with your fitness or health goals, contact me for an appointment. Let’s figure this out together.