There is more to gaining muscle and losing fat than just lifting weights and running on the treadmill. You need to understand that your body does not work on a simple cause and effect principle. There are thousands of complex processes happening in your body through the day. If you want to gain muscle and lose fat, you need to get the basics right and then build from there. Most people end up doing things that completely negate their hard work. Check if you too are making the 7 mistakes mentioned below.
1. Not Sleeping Enough
You can blame your lifestyle, TV, cellphones, or just coffee, but the fact is Americans are sleeping lesser than they used to. If you want to build muscle, you should know that they’re actually built during recovery and not when you’re lifting. Sleep deprivation hurts your muscle gains because it interferes with recovery and growth hormone production. Sleep deprivation also affects fat loss. According to a 6,000-person Japanese study published in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers have found that shorter sleep duration is correlated with higher BMI levels and a bigger waist. So make sure to get at least eight hours of good sleep each and every night.
2. Not Having Enough Protein
A study from the Journal of Nutrition found that a high-protein diet improved body composition, cholesterol markers, and insulin levels more than a diet of moderate protein, even while keeping calories the same. Protein is the building block of muscle and it helps you maintain muscle mass while you drop body fat. Have at least 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight to make the most of your workout.
3. Not Eating Enough Fat
Australian researchers found that combining aerobic exercise with fish oil, which is a fat, dropped much more body fat than exercise alone. Also, fat is vital for muscle gain because testosterone is made from cholesterol. What you need to do is avoid the bad fats like trans fats and hydrogenated oils. Animal fats, nuts, avocados, coconut oils, olive oils, and fish are sources of good fats that help your body grow and build your overall health.
4. Doing Too Much Cardio
Cardio is not a complete baddie but too much of it can hurt your muscle goals. Excessive cardio hurts recovery and reduces muscle gain because you’re focusing on endurance training which makes your body lean. There is a middle path though. Blend traditional cardio with interval-type protocols to improve all your energy systems. This gives you the fat-burning benefit of cardio along with increasing your strength.
5. Not Lifting Heavy Enough
If you want to bulk up, you absolutely must lift heavy. There’s just no going around that. Focus on multi-joint compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, rows, and presses to stimulate a lot of hormonal release and more gains. The same applies even if you’re more interested in losing fat. Your body tends to lose muscle during a calorie deficit. You need all the muscle gains you can get and the best way to do it is by lifting heavy. More muscle also translates into an increased basal metabolic rate, which boosts the number of calories you burn throughout the day.
6. Being Too Stressed
Stress is a factor that most people just do not consider. Stress has a negative impact on your body and too much stress elevates your cortisol levels. When this happens, your body constantly activates your sympathetic nervous system, also known as “fight-or-flight” response, and raises your levels of glucocorticoids, which causes many other health problems. Stress also interferes with the production of testosterone and growth hormone production, which limits muscle growth, increases fat, and even weakens bones.
7. Not Drinking Enough Water
Almost half of all Americans are drinking less water than they should. When it comes to fat loss, even the smallest amount of dehydration hurts your results because your metabolism slows down to conserve water. Dehydration also limits your performance at the gym and affects muscle growth. How much water should you drink? There is no written rule but listen to your body and drink enough water to keep your urine clear or faintly yellow.