You've heard it before - Burn fat, not muscle. But, what does that mean, and how does it affect you and your diet?
The human body is a complex organism, and it reacts in unique ways to different stimulus. Losing weight is a careful balance between consuming fewer calories than your body needs to use on a daily balance and providing your body with the nutrients required for day to day survival. Due to this complex relationship between eating, burning calories and staying healthy, it is very common for people to make errors.
But, how does one burn fat, not muscle? It is very simple. Do not starve yourself when on a diet. If your body says it is hungry, eat something. It is what you eat that matters, not that you avoid eating to cut calories. If you are thinking about reaching for that bag of potato chips, think again! Select nutritious fruits, vegetables and lean protein food instead. Drink more water as it will also help lower the sensation of being hungry and help to eliminate toxins.
If you allow yourself to remain hungry for long periods of time, your body will go into panic mode. To protect internal organs, the body will indiscriminately target sources of energy. In this case, muscle and fat. While you would lose fat content, you would also be degrading your muscles. This will lower you endurance and put you at high risk for severe injury. Once you have burned away your muscle, it is very difficult to replace.
To avoid this, you need to learn how your body digests foods. This involves knowing how your body burns both fat and calories introduced into your body, so you can regulate how much you bring into your body versus how much you burn. To burn fat, not muscle, you need to introduce enough calories each day to prevent triggering your body's sense that it is starving. The easiest way to do this is to eat vegetables and salads, as well as foods high in fiber. These foods will either trigger the instinct that you are full by consuming only a little of it, or have so few calories that you can eat as much of it as you want.
When you are dieting, you should avoid foods such as chocolate bars and soda, as these treats do little to stop you from feeling hungry and pack a lot of sugars and calories. Also, if you decide to start exercising while on this type of diet, remember to add extra calories each day to accommodate. Using your muscles and building muscle takes more energy. If you try to build muscle without providing your body the energy it needs, your body will cannibalize muscle from other parts of your body to compensate.
Remember, to burn fat, not muscle, you must take great care with your diet. Be patient! If you are persistent, you will lose the weight in a safe manner. If you take risks, you can tear muscles and risk serious injury as the integrity of your body breaks down.