There’s quite a big difference between just losing weight and losing specifically fat. Most times if someone is quite overweight we hear the expression “I just need to lose weight.” When it comes to bodybuilding and fitness related competitions it is extremely vital to lose FAT and not lose weight per se.
The reason behind this is because bodybuilders want to keep as much muscle weight as possible and ONLY get rid of the body fat. It’s a bodybuilders dream to be able to see the scale staying at the same weight but the skin fold measurements (body fat measurements) decreasing each week.
That means that you are keeping all your muscle but continually losing body fat. This is the ideal. Having muscle and being relatively lean has its own advantages. Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat. So it is much easier to stay lean and become leaner while enjoying a bit more leeway with your diet. You feel stronger and more energetic and you look good!
There are many ways to do all this. For instance, some people think that by just stopping eating all together and only having say one meal a day will help lose weight. Yes this may very well make you lose WEIGHT, but you will definitely lose your muscle and this may not be optimal for everyday functioning.
Your energy levels could become compromised and your body will not run at its best. So while you will see the scale decreasing, this is really not the most efficient way to do it as you are sacrificing all your muscle in the process.
Another downside of this is that if you give in to a craving and have a large unhealthy meal after not eating for hours you could end up seeing a lot of that stored as fat. The reason behind this is that your body will realize that it is not getting enough food and nutrients by you only eating one meal a day, so when you decide to have that large meal, your body will say ‘hey, finally we can get some food, lets hold on to and store as much as possible since we don’t know when we will ever get this stuff again!’ This is the basic idea.
The best is to try to activate as much muscle growth as you can while still trying to lose the fat, because ideally we all want to have some (even though you may not want a lot) muscle definition once we lose the ‘weight.’ And for the benefits of having muscle, as has been discussed previously. So what is the best way to lose fat and preserve muscle? Weight training and eating protein mostly! Have a few small meals throughout the day, even three is fine as long as with each meal you are taking in some form of protein.
The one thing that the body cannot store is protein, as protein. For example take carbohydrates. The body stores carbohydrates in the form of glycogen, which can be used at a later stage for energy when needed. But the body does not store protein to use at a later stage when you need to repair your muscles.
Thus if you work out and do not eat some form of protein to help repair your muscles, your body will start to breakdown your muscle tissue as it has nothing to build it up with. That’s why the need arises to constantly ingest protein to supply your muscles with amino acids to maintain and repair them.
Weight training stimulates and keeps the muscle there. The saying ‘Use it or lose it’ comes into play here. If your body doesn’t need muscle it will try to eliminate it, that’s where weight training comes in, to maintain and build muscle.
So by weight training you are forcing your body to use your muscles and keep them there, or better yet to grow. The more fat that someone has, the bigger the initial drop of weight will be. Say we take a man who weighs 100 kg at about 20 % body fat compared to a man weighing the same weight, 100 kg at about 10 % body fat. If both men were to start a clean diet and a good training regimen, the former man should see a bigger drop of weight initially; say in the first month or two. The body is not designed to lose fat easily, so you have to continually FORCE the body to lose fat by frequently assessing your diet and training programme and making changes when needed. You will almost always hit a plateau somewhere along the line of losing fat, and this is where you need to assess everything; your diet, rest, and workout routine, and make the necessary changes.
Now the main point to take away from the above, is this. To lose FAT and maintain muscle you need to do some weight training, cardio and a low calorie diet. BUT while on a low calorie diet, your protein intake needs to be relatively high to maintain your muscle.