Increasing Muscle Mass While in a Caloric Deficit

Increasing Muscle Mass While in a Caloric Deficit

Author: Peter Fisher

For most people, ‘losing weight’ boils down to getting rid of body fat. And to lose weight, you must increase the number of calories you burn with exercise and activity while reducing the number of calories you consume from food intake. By adopting a caloric deficit, you’ll certainly lose weight but 99% of the time you’re going to also compromise muscle. When you lose muscle, you run the risk of lowering your metabolic rate – which burns fewer calories when you are resting.

It’s a vicious cycle intertwined with a delicate balance of exercise and diet.

But this mysterious balance can be overcome by increasing some of the types of foods you eat – they can increase the metabolism by building more muscle (or at least maintaining the muscle mass you have) and losing more fat.

Yes. Losing weight by increasing exercise AND increasing specific foods.

Carbohydrates are an important source of fuel for our muscles during exercise and are the only source of energy for our brain and red blood cells. Fat is equally important, playing major roles in everything from brain function to cell structure, but if you’re trying to lose weight, it may not hurt to trade some carbohydrates and/or fat calories for a boost in protein. Calorie for calorie, protein has the most metabolic benefits for weight loss: it makes your stomach feel fuller, stimulates energy burn and preserves muscle, which is used for energy along with fat during weight loss.

Remember that muscle is the engine that makes your body go. Muscle feeds on protein. The more protein you eat, along with a good strength-conditioning workout, you’ll grow more muscle. The more muscle you have, the more residual calories you will burn in the 48 hours after your last workout. So, it makes sense that in order to gain muscle while losing weight, you should eat more protein-rich foods, right?


The Recommended daily allowances for American adults suggest a healthy balance should be:

  • 45-65% carbohydrates
  • 20-35% fats
  • 10-35% protein

If you want to lose the weight, but maintain muscle mass, you should adjust your daily balance by eating fewer carbs, fewer fats, and increased protein. But don’t cut out all carbs and fats from your diet – your body still needs those to function. How much protein you should increase will vary from person to person – depending on their body composition. If you have any chronic illness, you should always consult your physician before making a big change in your diet – especially with a protein increase. Too much protein can be harmful to your kidneys and other vital organs.

It’s well worth the time to obtain a body composition test at a DEXA scan near you. By understanding what your body is made of, you can work with training professionals and nutritionists to create and customize a best-informed exercise plan that balances aerobic and strength conditioning, along with a balanced diet that will emphasize fat loss and muscle gain – specific for YOUR body – not someone else’s.

With the information gained from a DEXA body composition scan paired with a Live Lean Rx nutritional plan from our partner and team member, Dr. Todd Miller of The Miller Method, you can easily walk the fine line of losing weight, maintaining or building muscle mass, and enjoying what you eat!

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