I have known a few people who lost huge amounts of weight, but looked less healthy than before. Their visible skin seemed to sag and they appeared to lack vitality.

They deserved enormous credit for their accomplishment. It required dedication and discipline. But I don’t know that their self images improved at all.

It seems that losing weight through cutting calories without exercising at the same time only gives you a smaller version of your body at the beginning.

Weight loss without exercise can accentuate cellulite because of the lack of elasticity in our skin. Weight loss, done improperly, may leave us fatigued and haggard.

Losing weight slowly will give us a better chance to maintain muscle mass while we lose fat. Our skin thereby is better able to adjust naturally. Any stretch marks gained previously will become less prominent.


It is a perplexing issue – losing fat to reduce body mass, while attempting to gain muscle to do the opposite.

The good news is that working on both goals simultaneously will entail using the same exercises, since fat burning and muscle building routines are generally the same. Also, a body with greater muscle mass will require more energy at rest. Thus, we get a bonus – more calorie expenditure while doing nothing.

Here is a more specific strategy to accomplish these goals:

  • Be sure that you are eating enough. Don’t skip meals or eat like a hummingbird. Eat fewer carbohydrates on the days that you do not work out, but give your body fuel.
  • Do more than running, bicycling or walking. Add weight training or bodyweight exercises to your cardio routine. Increase your resting calorie expenditure by added lean muscle mass.
  • Gradually (but not too slowly) add more resistance. Muscles only grow when they are challenged.
  • Be sure to work in high intensity cardio interval training or resistance work. Long walks are great, but not enough.
  • Do resistance exercise before cardio on the days that you do both. Cardio requires more energy. But warm up before you begin any type of exercise.
  • Change your routine from time to time. This will keep you progressing and prevent boredom.
  • Be sure to eat before a workout, 3 hours prior or less. You need energy. Eat carbs.
  • Eat proteins after the workout. You will need to build back muscles that have been broken down. A good rule is to eat one gram of protein daily per each pound of bodyweight.
  • Lower your fat intake if you are not seeing muscle definition when developing muscle.
  • Get ample sleep. This regulates hormone levels, hunger and stress.
  • Don’t overeat after a workout. Replace the calories you have burned and eat 20 – 25 grams of protein.


You must create a calorie deficit to lose weight – an expenditure of more calories than you consume. But be aware that your scales may not accurately indicate your progress. You may gain or stay at the same weight while losing fat and gaining muscle. Remember that muscles outweigh fat.

Measuring calories vs. physical activity is certainly not an exact science, but the chart below will help to somewhat present the impact of both.

To find out how many calories you need to sustain your weight or to lose, it is best to visit your doctor to determine your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is your calorie expenditure at rest.

I have not been quite so exacting, but I know through experience that 1800 -2000 calories per day is about right for me, assuming moderate exercise. With greater levels of exercise, I can lose weight when eating this many calories. Anyone can run a test for a few days and get at least an approximation of their calorie needs.

Whole foods, or plant foods with little or no processing, give us calories with the most nutrients. Obviously, the type of food providing the calories is an important consideration.


The value of protein is three – fold:

  1. It keeps us from being hungry, which is crucial since limiting calories can obviously make us hungry.
  2. Protein is the macronutrient that requires the most energy to digest, so it increases our metabolism.
  3. It builds and maintains muscles. Protein is not stored, so it must be eaten through the day.

A standard amount of protein per day has long been recommended to be one gram per each pound of bodyweight.

There are more specific ways to measure the need for protein:

  • For sedentary healthy adult males of females: 0.5 – 0.7 grams per pound of bodyweight
  • For healthy adult males or females doing some form of exercise on a regular basis: 0.8 – 1 gram per pound of bodyweight
  • For healthy adult females who are trying to maintain muscle while losing fat: 1- 1.2 grams per pound of bodyweight
  • For healthy adult males who are trying to maintain muscle while losing fat: 1 – 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight

The foods highest in protein include:

  • Eggs
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Swiss cheese
  • 2 per cent milk
  • Whey or casein protein powder
  • Yellowfin tuna
  • Halibut
  • Octopus
  • Sockeye salmon
  • Tilapia
  • Anchovies
  • Light tuna
  • Sardines
  • Steak
  • Lean ground beef
  • Boneless pork chops
  • Chicken breast (boneless and skinless)
  • Turkey breast
  • Corned beef
  • Chorizo
  • Pepperoni
  • Roast beef
  • Canadian bacon
  • Roasted Turkey breast
  • Beef jerky
  • Navy beans
  • Dried lentils
  • Peanut butter
  • Mixed nuts
  • Bean chips
  • Edamame
  • Tofu
  • Green peas
  • Wheat germ
  • Soba noodles
  • Quinoa


  • Generally, those who try to lose weight want a trim and toned body
  • Weight loss can result in losing significant muscle mass
  • Body recomposition is an approach to gaining muscle while losing fat
  • Body recomposition aims to increase strength and boost metabolism
  • Body recomposition focuses on body composition rather than weight
  • Body composition is the amount of fat, plus fat free mass (muscle, bones, water) in our bodies
  • Body fat percentage relative to muscle mass is a better health indicator than BMI (body mass index)
  • Body recomposition is a lifestyle choice to gain a healthier ratio of fat to muscle
  • A scale does not show the difference in fat loss and muscle loss
  • Too much body fat may lead to cancer, diabetes and heart disease
  • Body recomposition may result in little or no weight loss
  • Increasing muscle mass will boost our resting metabolic rate, since we burn more calories while resting
  • A weight loss program of only cardiovascular exercise while reducing calories will result in muscle loss
  • Body recomposition techniques include high protein foods, calorie reduction, cardio exercise and muscle building workouts
  • Body recomposition benefits everyone, regardless of the amount of muscles gain or weight loss desired


The journey to a muscular and lean body is long and treacherous. But the trip itself presents rewards along the way as we see improvements, though we still have “miles” to go.

Why not celebrate with new clothing? It is a heady feeling to buy shorts or pants with a significant decrease in the waist measurement. And shirts or jackets that are large or medium instead of extra large.

I like Steph Curry and Tom Brady, but I also like the “feel” and look of Under Armour. I have been buying Under Armour polo shirts, t-shirts, pants, jackets and hats for a long time. I have found Amazon to be an excellent source for Under Armour. Here are some possibilities:

Men’s t – shirts

Men’s Polo shirts

Men’s Fleece Hoodies

Men’s Long Sleeve Compression Shirts

Men’s Mesh Shorts

Boys’ t-shirts

Men’s socks

Women’s shorts

Girls’ t – shirts

Women’s t – shirts

Unisex backpack


Losing weight while gaining or maintaining muscle mass is not easy and there are no quick fixes. A lifestyle attitude is needed, not a short – term attempt. It should be encouraging to know that lean muscle gain or retention will enhance our resting metabolic rate (we burn more calories while at rest).

In the 3 legged stool of resistance training / cardio / nutrition, my nemesis is usually the third leg, nutrition. It has been enlightening for me to learn about how to eat better. I know how to cut calories, but this is only a peripheral approach. I need to save my articles for later review.

Please leave me a question or a comment in the “Comments” box below, or e-mail me – richard@myworkoutathome.com. This engagement is much appreciated. Be well.


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