Learning how to lose fat without gaining muscle can be a challenge. The good news is, it’s possible to retain your lean muscle while working toward your weight loss goals.
Tony Horton wants you to always look and feel your best. No matter what kind of exercise you prefer, find something you like and stick to it. Just make sure you talk to your doctor before beginning any sort of new exercise program.
In the meantime, here’s some information to steer you in the right direction regarding the best exercises to help you cut your body fat percentage while minimizing an increase in muscle mass.
Why Might You Want To Burn Fat Without Gaining Muscle?
Opinions vary greatly when it comes to what is perceived as the “perfect body.” Some people may prefer to have six-pack abs, muscular shoulders, and arms, or a broad, muscular chest. Others may prefer to be thin with toned – not bulky – muscles.1
But building muscle doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to automatically look like an Olympic weightlifter. Yes, weight training can lead to increased muscle mass. But when performed correctly, it can help you lose weight while making you look lean at the same time.
People who train with the sole purpose of bulking up, do so by lifting very heavy weights and following a strict diet that promotes increased muscle mass.2
So it’s important to note that you don’t have to skip the weight lifting entirely in order to keep from getting too bulked up. But if you’d rather stay out of the weight room, there are certain exercises that can help promote muscle tone while helping to reduce your body weight and keeping you lean. Here’s a look at some of the best exercises to stay lean and drop some pounds at the same time.
They’ll not only have you looking great, but they’ll also have a positive impact on your overall health.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
HIIT workouts may help support your basal metabolic rate, making it a lot easier for your whole body to do a much better job of burning fat. HIIT involves working at a high-intensity level for about 30 seconds, then either resting or going at a slower pace for the same time period. You do this for between 15-20 minutes.3
One example is running up a hill at full speed and then walking back down. Another is going full blast on an exercise bike and then pedaling lightly.4
The best way of burning fat – and keeping it off – is to add cardio to your regular exercise routine. It can help you build muscle, but not so much that it makes you look too bulky. These are just a few of the cardio exercises you might want to consider.
- Elliptical workouts – The elliptical machine is a low-impact workout. This means it won’t wear out your knees and hips like running or playing basketball. But it can help you burn a lot of calories – especially if you change up the resistance, speed, and intensity of your workouts.
- Swimming – Swimming is another fantastic low-impact workout. Swim a few laps and then tread water for a little while. You’ll be surprised at how fast you’ll burn fat.
- Stair climbers – You’ve probably seen one of these machines before. It helps build muscle tone in the legs and helps you burn fat in the process. However, it might not be a good idea to get on a stair climber if you have knee problems. It can put a lot of pressure on your joints.5
Burning Fat For A Healthier You: Eat A Healthy Diet
The best way to burn fat is through a combination of both exercise and a healthy diet. You’ve already learned about some good exercises, so here’s a look at some ways you can cut fat through diet. Again, though, don’t make any sudden dietary changes without talking to your doctor.
- Watch your calorie intake – If you burn more calories than you ingest through food, you’ll lose weight. But this is a lot easier said than done. Try to fill up on whole, natural foods like fresh fruits and veggies. These are naturally low in calories and great for your health. You should also think about the way you eat. Are you eating out of boredom or sadness? Using food as comfort can make it almost impossible to meet your weight loss goals. Try to limit meals and snacks to certain times of the day, and to healthy foods only.
- Eat more healthy fats – Unsaturated fats can help you feel full without packing on the pounds. They’re also super for your health. You’ll find them in foods such as fatty fish, nuts, avocados, and olive oil.
- Ease up on the carbs – The body turns carbohydrates into glucose, and it will burn the glucose first — instead of the fat you just ate. This may lead to the formation of more fat cells.6
Watch Your Protein Intake
If you want to get fit without packing on too much muscle tissue, you’ll need to avoid eating large amounts of protein.
The recommended amount of protein a 150-pound person should get each day is about 56 grams. Just three ounces of lean ground beef has 22 grams, so you can see how easy it would be to pack on the protein. Other protein sources include chicken, eggs, fish, whole grains, and dairy products, such as low-fat milk and yogurt.7
Generally, people who want to pack on more muscle mass should get between 10-35 percent of their calories from protein. Those wanting to only keep the muscle they already have, won’t need nearly as much. Of course, you’ll need to talk to your doctor about your specific situation and how much protein is right for you.8
Vitamins For Weight Loss?
There is evidence that certain vitamins might help some people reach their weight loss goals. For example, research suggests that people who don’t get enough vitamin C are at a higher risk for increased body fat as well as a larger waist.9 There is also research that shows that an increase in vitamin D could result in a reduction of fat.10
If you’re curious about making any dietary changes(including supplementation), or if you have any problems meeting your goals, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor or a nutritionist.