Losing fat while simultaneously building muscle is not easy, partly because your dietary needs and exercise regimen for losing fat often counteracts muscle growth. While you are losing fat, there are a few strategies to help you continue to build muscle.

Emphasize Protein

Keeping your protein high will help prevent muscle loss. You want at least one gram of protein per gram of lean body weight. To help you determine the amount of lean body weight you have, you can use online calculators that take into account your measurements for an estimate, or invest in body mass testing. Once you have an idea of the amount of protein you should consume, you will need to alter the number of remaining macronutrients, carbohydrates and fats, to fit within your daily caloric needs. To stay in a caloric deficit and burn fat, you will need a combination of eating fewer calories and exercise, as opposed to focusing mostly on eating fewer calories. This will help spare muscle during your weight loss efforts. Ask a fitness expert about which weight loss programs may be most effective for you.

Minimize Cardio

Cardio can be a good fat-burning tool and is excellent for increasing your cardiovascular fitness, but it is not ideal for gaining muscle. Find a weight-training routine that works with your fitness level and the equipment you have available, whether at home or at the gym. Plan to spend 45 minutes to an hour doing weight-training first. To include cardio in your weight training, you should move between exercises quickly, with little rest in between sets. Increasing the tempo of your weight-training will prevent the need to extend your workout sessions to include cardio. If you want to include cardio, do it at the end of your weight-training, and aim for a high-intensity exercise for 20 minutes. Try running on the treadmill or using the elliptical machine at variable levels of intensity for maximum fat burning.

Take It Slow

As long as you are making steady progress toward your goals, do not be obsessive about your fat loss or muscle gains. Generally, when you lose weight quickly, it is unlikely all the weight will be fat. Aim for developing a diet and exercise plan that allows you to lose one or two pounds each week at a steady pace. Since your goal is to gain muscle, do not be alarmed if the scale stalls or goes up sometimes. If you are losing inches, but the scale is not moving, it is most likely because you are gaining muscle. Try to reformulate your diet and exercise monthly as you notice progress or you are capable of exercising at a higher intensity. Sometimes stalls can be a sign that your workouts are too intense or your body needs more calories. Try increasing your daily calories by 200 each day for a week and see how your body responds.

Simultaneously shedding fat while building muscle can be a difficult goal. Finding a compromise in your dietary and exercise goals so you can shed fat without compromising muscle will often require trial-and-error throughout your journey.