How much a person weighs is not the most accurate way to gauge their overall health and fitness, yet many times we focus on the scale to tell us if we are making progress toward wellness. Especially after taking steps to limit caloric intake or having a gastric sleeve procedure in Houston, promoting muscle growth while losing fat provides the greatest benefit to overall health.
Body recomposition refers to focusing on improving the ratio of muscle to body fat. Using a diet and exercise regimen that promotes lean body mass and physical strength, this approach to wellness offers many benefits over simply using weight or BMI as your standard of fitness.
These techniques allow individuals to lose body fat while gaining muscle mass, which may be the fastest and most efficient way of having the physically fit body and lifestyle you want. Let’s discuss how to change your diet and exercise plan to achieve these benefits and bring your body into perfect balance.
What Are the Benefits of Body Recomposition?
Body recomposition focuses on increasing muscle mass through exercise and protein intake while reducing body fat. Some of the benefits of having lower body fat and increased muscle tissue include:
- Reduced risk of health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.1
- Boosting the resting metabolic rate because muscles burn calories even when at rest.1
- Increased overall health through a combination of diet, cardiovascular exercise, and strength training.
Judging Success Differently
Recomposition means to recreate or rebuild something in a new way. By choosing to focus on body fat percentage rather than markers related only to height and weight, you can achieve the lean, strong form that is ideal for your bone structure.
While tracking your progress in body recomposition, what matters is determining the percentage fat in your body versus that of muscle, bone, and soft tissues. Your weight on the scale might sometimes go up because muscle weighs more than fat, but this is not a concern because improving the ratio is the key.
Using circumference and skinfold measurements taken with calipers, you can see your progress. Used in combination with other weight loss procedures, this lifestyle and change in focus can be amazingly effective in creating the results you want. These techniques have long been used by weightlifters and athletes, as well as being proven effective in numerous research studies.1
Focus on Eliminating Fat
This comprehensive lifestyle change works on losing fat and building muscle simultaneously, but, for the purposes of explanation, we will talk about the two prongs of this approach separately. In order to lose fat stores, we need to limit calories, either through a restrictive diet or supportive weight loss surgery.
However, building muscle mass requires the right kind of calories, especially protein in the diet. These lifestyle changes are part of the fat reduction focus of body recomposition:
- Moderately decreasing caloric intake while increasing cardiovascular exercises that burn calories.
- For those with high levels of body fat, reducing calories by 30-40% is recommended.
- Switching to interval training, which alternates short intensive exercises with brief periods of recovery. This method is known to be more effective at burning body fat than continuous slow-paced workouts.
- Focusing on high-quality food and the balance of nutrients being provided to the body.
- Cutting out high-fat, low-quality foods, including processed foods and sweets.
- Reducing carbohydrates and replacing them with healthy fats, protein, and soluble fiber, which fits well with a gastric sleeve diet.
The Power of Protein
Muscles are made of protein, so eating a diet rich in protein is understood to reduce fat while preserving lean muscle. An essential part of your diet will be high-quality protein in the right daily amounts to support your muscle-building efforts.
How much protein is enough? Studies vary slightly in recommendations, but these results show the ranges being studied and what benefits were experienced at these dietary levels:1
- In overweight adults, a low-calorie diet that included 0.64 grams of protein per pound of body weight preserved more muscle mass than eating the recommended daily allowance of 0.36 grams of protein.
- Several studies on athletes who cut calories showed greater preservation of muscle mass when they consumed higher levels of protein, up to 1.3 grams per pound of body weight.
- For most people, consuming at least 0.64 grams per pound of body weight will be helpful, or, as a round number, an additional 35 grams of protein added to the diet.
- For those engaged in strength training, which is essential to changing your fat/muscle ratio, sports nutrition experts recommend 1.1 to 1.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
- again, make sure to check with your doctor before following any recommendation.
What Are the Best Sources of Protein for Building Muscle?
It is not just getting the grams of protein that count in this case. Choosing the right sources of protein that will allow you to keep your calorie counts low is as important as when you eat them. Consider these tips to get your daily protein boost:
- Consume protein-rich foods every three to four hours throughout the day to maximize muscle gain.
- Eat naturally protein-rich foods like poultry, dairy, nut butters, and eggs in small amounts throughout the day, especially after gastric bypass surgery.
- Seek protein sources that have high essential amino acids, especially leucine, for fast muscle growth.
- Use low-calorie whey protein supplements to reach your recommended protein intake, drinking a serving up to two hours after exercise. Other useful supplemental proteins include pea protein, casein, and hemp powder.
Start Strength Training to Make More Muscle
The second arm of the body reconditioning approach is regular strength training or resistance exercise. While cardiovascular activities burn calories and enhance heart health, lifting weights or other intensive strength training is the key to building more muscle mass.
Studies support this technique, showing that:
- Young women who combined cardio and strength training for 12 weeks lost 10% body fat on average while increasing muscle by approximately 9%.1
- Older women were able to decrease body fat and increase strength by following a rigorous swimming program for 12 weeks.1
- Resistance training two times per week is proven more effective at increasing muscle mass than one time per week.1 Three times per week is recommended for maximum results.2
What Are the Best Exercises for Muscle Growth and Fat Loss?
With your doctor’s approval following a surgery or sleeve gastrectomy, incorporate these exercise recommendations into your high-quality, high-protein diet to sculpt your healthy new body:
2-3 times per week:
- High-intensity interval training for fat loss and calorie burning
- Cardio training for heart health and core strength
3 times per week (no more often than every other day):
- Lifting weights and resistance machines for muscle growth
- Squats, bench press, pushups, and pullups to work all muscle groups
1-2 times per week:
- Rest from intense exercise with flexibility training, yoga, leisurely walking, or gentle swimming
Focus on Your Improvements and Empower Yourself
Fitness and body recomposition takes you on a journey with a clear starting point and a never-ending goal, which is to be the healthy and strong person you were meant to be. Judging yourself by the number on the scale limits what you believe you can accomplish. Taking this approach to reducing fat and building muscle brings everything into balance.
The more fat we have to lose, the easier it is to lose some fat, and the more muscle we need to gain, the easier it will be to add muscle mass. Over time, as you become more lean and powerful, you will see smaller gains but greater benefits in daily health and vitality.
Taking advantage of all the techniques and tools available to you is the fastest way to embrace a healthy change. Scheduling a consultation with us at Bariatric Care Centers can open the door to a new world of empowering possibilities. Take that first step toward total wellness and start reshaping yourself today!
Disclaimer: This article is only for general information. All patients should consult their doctors prior to following any of the recommendations in any articles, posts, infographics, or videos. All patients have individual needs and limitations of which only their treating physicians can be fully aware.