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Maintaining Muscle Mass

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Old 11-12-2010, 11:10 PM   #1
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Default Maintaining Muscle Mass

Help! I've heard that it is hard to maintain muscle mass while dieting. That along with the fat dieters often lose some muscle. What do I need to do to stop this from happening? How much protein should I be eating? And what about the amount of exercise required? Are there any supplements that help prevent muscle loss? Any help will be appreciated.
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Old 11-12-2010, 11:25 PM   #2
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Depending on how much you weigh, you will lose lean body mass as you lose weight, no matter what. The reason is your body will need fewer cells to support your smaller mass. Part of the lean body mass lost during weight loss though is muscle. Muscle is metabolically active therefore the best way to maintain muscle is to lift weights.
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Old 11-13-2010, 02:18 AM   #3
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Lift weights and make sure you have an adequate amount of protein in your diet. Also, make sure you're losing a healthy amount of weight per week on average, that will help to make sure the weight you're losing is fat and not muscle. You still might lose some muscle mass, but if you're working your muscles, you're going to lose less than you would not working them.
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Old 11-13-2010, 11:29 AM   #4
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If you currently are not engaged in a strength training program, ultimately, you may gain some muscle. As you lose pounds, you may lose some lean, but it doesn't need to be lost forever.
Weight training is the most overlooked form of exercise, especially in women. It helps prevent ostepoerosis, it makes you look better, and it makes you feel better. I'm not sure how old you are, but if you're youger, it's very important to start, and maintain a good strength training program (well, even if you're older, it is always important).
Lose sensibly (don't crash diet), keep up a good protein intake, and a well-rounded, nutritionally sound diet, do some strength training 2-3 hours per week, and you'll be great! : )
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Old 11-13-2010, 11:36 AM   #5
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The best answer you're going to get is to strength train. What got me started was reading here that when you lose weight as much as 40% of what's lost could be muscle. I wanted to lose FAT, not muscle. The benefit is that you can wear a tiny size at a larger weight. The drawback is the scale may move slower. This is the time to pull out the tape measurer.

I can tell you at the start of my journey women my height and weight were wearing smaller sizes than I was. I couldn't figure it out. Now, after lifting all this time, women my height and weight report wearing larger sizes. I've gone from one end of the spectrum to the other. I don't mind weighing so much because no one but me knows my number...well, and all of you.
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Old 11-13-2010, 11:49 AM   #6
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You can expect to inevitably lose SOME muscle, but how much depends on how you eat and what you do to train.

When girls compete in bodybuilding/figure/fitness, their goal is to lose fat as quick as possible but maintain as much muscle as they can.

The strategies:
- High protein (and either low carb, high fat - or high carb, low fat, personal choice) - usually 1.5g protein/lb body weight, which is a lot, but 1g/lb is about right for the average female.

- Eating below maintenance calories but not very low (slow dieting, not rapid), usually 20 weeks for maximum muscle preservation (for a contest). So for the average female, try shooting for 300-500 calories below maintenance for a long time, rather than how some people do quite a calorie deficit (ie 1000 calories) for more rapid results.

- Minimal cardio, letting the diet do the work for you

- Weight train, weight train, weight train! HEAVY!

Basically, preserving muscle mass is more about patience than anything else. Losing rapidly will lead to faster muscle loss. In the case of some people who were very obese (ie 300+lbs), the stress and danger to their body from abdominal fat and heart strain is more of a problem than preserving muscle. Also, when you start out very obese, you naturally carry more muscle as you are walking around with much more resistance/weight. This is why they can lose a lot more fat without losing tons of muscle on a lower calorie diet.

For the average "fat chick", who wants to preserve muscle, a slower loss is the key, rather than rapid loss.

Good luck
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Old 11-13-2010, 12:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carlyjordon2002 View Post
So true Eliana- my weight loss has been so slow but the inches are coming off quickly. I guess I'm losing fat as well as gaining muscle because my clothes are definitely getting loose and I'm almost down a size even though I only lost about 3 lbs. Its weird
I like to think of it as "keeping" muscle rather than "gaining" it. I figure when losing weight we're constantly in battle just to keep it...which is fine. It's almost just semantics, I suppose.

Sacha, thanks! That was a very, very helpful post.
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Old 11-13-2010, 01:59 PM   #8
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Strength training is one of those things I probably should be doing some of. As it is, my exercise regimen consists entirely of walking a mile and a half a day, six days a week. This seems to be enough exercise to keep me burning mainly fat and maintaining muscle mass, based on the comments of a couple of close friends whose input I trust. One of them asked me if I had started doing toning or strength training exercises, since I was looking "toned"--nope, still just walking. But it seems to be working for me.

I tend to believe that the two most important keys to burning mainly fat are (1) not having too severe a calorie deficit and (2) doing some kind of regular exercise (a combination of strength and cardio is probably best, but something is better than nothing). I think those two things tell your body that there isn't a famine and that everything is fine, so it's OK to use up the fat stores for fuel.
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Old 11-13-2010, 10:08 PM   #9
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Thank you to all who have responded to my post. I appreciate your input. You've inspired me to get to the gym more often. I also realize that I should be tracking my protein to make sure I eat enough protein every day.
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