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Weight loss is essentially carried out by a mathematical operation: The calories you take in from your food should be less than the calories you spend carrying out your daily activities.

Doesn’t that sound simple? It does, but it is not, as there is a catch in this assumption. As our scale index decreases, we not only lose fat from our body, but also muscle mass.

Therefore, taking for granted that muscle mass is metabolically active and helps us “burn” calories, our goal should be to maintain our muscle mass while losing weight or better yet, increase it.

Shrinking our muscle mass means that our metabolism slows down in terms of weight, so our burn rate is reduced, which makes weight loss even more difficult.

Below are some very common mistakes that instead of the desired fat loss, lead to loss of muscle mass.

Read Also: How to Lose Body Weight Fast and Keep it Off

1. Skipping food after exercise

Eating and choosing the right foods after your workout is essential to allow the muscles to recover from the workout and grow in the right way.

For example, moderate intensity exercise for at least 45 minutes is best accompanied by a meal containing 20 grams of quality protein, such as a yoghurt or a protein shake within 15-30 minutes of completing your workout.

If you are following a vegan diet you can eat buckwheat, kidney beans or almonds which are packed with protein. Check this short table comparing the four foods mentioned.

FoodQuantityProtein
Yoghurt (plain, whole milk)100 g3.5 g
Buckwheat100 g13.2 g
Kidney Beans100 g23.6 g
Almonds28 g (28 almonds)5 g
Source: Nutritiondata.self.com

2. You are not getting enough sleep

In order to achieve proper weight loss without causing muscle loss, your body definitely needs rest, and a sufficient amount of it.

A possible lack of sleep is capable of disrupting our hormonal system and this in turn leads to prolonged hunger pangs while storing more calories as fat in our body.

Lack of sleep will also not give you the necessary energy to carry out your workout. In general, therefore, health scientists recommend sleeping 7 to 9 hours every night and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule throughout the week to ensure that both our body and our mind are rested, as one affects the functioning of the other.

Here’s a handy table that shows the recommended sleep hours by age group.

AgeRecommended Sleep hours
Newborn0-3 months old14-17 hours
Infant4-11 months old12-15 hours
Toddler1-2 years old11-14 hours
Preschool3-5 years old10-13 hours
School-age6-13 years old9-11 hours
Teen14-17 years old8-10 hours
Young Adult18-25 years old7-9 hours
Adult26-64 years old7-9 hours
Older Adult65 or more years old7-8 hours
Source: sleepfoundation.org

3. Excessive calorie deprivation

When the food you consume provides fewer calories than your basic metabolism actually needs to maintain itself (i.e. the minimum energy your body needs to perform its basic functions such as keeping your heart rate and breathing at normal levels and even at rest), the body automatically goes into “malnutrition mode”.

What does this mean in practice?

That the body uses both the body’s fat reserves and proteins of the muscle mass to produce energy.

Now, what “excessive” calorie deprivation means in terms of numbers is very relative, as it is something that depends on each person’s physical activity levels and their current body weight.

In general though, experts recommend taking in over 1,000 calories a day from your diet.

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4. Abstinence from weight training

In order not to lose muscle mass, we should not neglect the systematic training of our muscles.

What are the appropriate exercises?

But of course weight exercises. You can get the desired results by consistently doing your exercises 2-3 times a week.

Read Also: 5 Best Exercises for Women Over 40

5. Low protein intake

As part of a recent study, it was shown that those participants who consumed more protein (i.e. 2.4 grams per kilogram of body weight compared to those who consumed 1.2 grams) lost 27% more fat and at the same time increased their net muscle mass.

Proteins, and in particular the complete proteins found in dairy products, eggs, poultry and red meat, provide our bodies with the essential nutrients needed to increase and maintain muscle mass.

For those on a diet, experts recommend consuming 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

So don’t starve yourself, just eat quality and properly, taking into account your body’s needs.

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