Here's a question that is probably left unanswered to many of you. Is it possible to increase our muscle mass without increasing our fat mass? And if so, in what way? I've heard a lot of people talking about this topic and the truth is, with the various theories that exist, I've gotten a little confused as well! That's why I tried to find what really applies and what experts say!
So, for those of you who spend countless hours in the gym (or maybe in some other type of exercise) or on various alternative diets, and aim to increase your muscle mass without increasing fat mass there are probably two to three simple but important things that you can do to achieve your goal!
Trick No. 1: Are you sure you’re working out properly in the gym or during the exercise program you follow?
What do I mean by that? Have you ever thought that when you keep repeating the same workout routine without trying to change either the repetitions or increase the weights you lift, your body may just get used to the whole process and eventually not be able to see the desired difference you want in your body? Yes, that's exactly right! It is not enough to just work out, you also need to change your routine a little, as well as include exercises for all muscle groups or try different types or regimes of exercise. In essence, every time you work out, you need to do more in order to trigger muscle protein breakdown and start the process of muscle protein synthesis. So, ask the experts and make sure you do a proper and complete fitness program!
Trick No.2: It’s not enough just to lift weights or exercise!
In order to achieve an increase in muscle mass, the composition of muscle proteins needs to be greater than their breakdown. Many of you can make a lot of effort in the gym when you actually have to put more effort into your kitchen. More specifically, you need to spend a little more time cooking! This is because when we exercise a lot, the body needs more calories to be able to "build" muscle mass. The question is, by eating more, can we increase our muscle mass without increasing our fat at all? The truth is that such a thing is quite difficult to happen, but not completely impossible. The best thing you can do to check your progress is to take your measurements, or take pictures of your body every week, or do a fat measurement with the assistance of an expert. That way, you will see whether the diet and exercise you do helps you achieve your goal and then, make the appropriate adjustments again! In general, what can happen is to increase your muscle mass by slightly increasing your fat mass. But to find the right balance, you definitely need the help of an expert.
Trick No.3: Do you overdo it with any of the macronutrients?
In case you’ve changed the food combinations and -for example- you consume more protein or more carbs or fats than you used to, and you do not see the difference you want in your body, then maybe you need to adjust again these combinations a bit. Theoretically, a person -depending on the exercise he does- should consume 1.2 g to 1.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. There are also cases where 2 g per kilogram of body weight per day is recommended but, usually, not more than that is advisable. So, if you overdo it with either protein or some of the other macronutrients (specifically carbs and fats), then maybe you should just reconsider and make some changes to the grams you consume each day.
Theoretically, 55-60% of the calories we consume should come from carbs, 25-30% from fatty acids, and 10-20% from protein. So, this may help you better understand what foods and in what percentages you need to get calories from within your day. Of course, in order to get the ideal results -as we said before- you should do everything with the guidance of an expert. Our health is the most important thing and we should definitely not experiment with it.
Generally, with summer getting closer, we have various questions about diet and exercise. Therefore, we should see what our needs are and focus on them, always prioritizing our health. I just hope that I’ve answered even some of your questions...
This article was written in collaboration with the Sports Nutritionist Anna Maria Volanaki, MSc, BDA, SENr.
* The website akispetretzikis.com offers as a service a variety of blogs and articles, based on scientific sources. All the articles are provided as general information and no text should be used as a substitute for advice from a physician or another health scientist, regardless of the date it has been published.