4. Eat Healthy Fats
Too many women outrageously slash their fat intake in an attempt to reduce body fat. As a result, not only do they lose weight, but they begin losing their hair, as well as their once-beautiful skin and nails. Fats play an integral role in maintaining optimal cell structure and hormone levels, each of which are crucial for supporting a muscle-building environment. They also play a role in keeping you feeling full.
Strive to consume about 0.5 grams of fat for every pound of body weight each day. That means a 150-pound woman should consume about 75 grams of fat each day. Make sure you include a variety of sources to reap the many benefits various types of fat (omega-3s and 6s, monounsaturated and saturated fats) have to offer.
Examples of healthy fats include salmon, sardines, walnuts, flax, chia seeds, macadamia nuts, avocado, olive oil, hemp oil, egg yolks, and coconut oil.
5. Consume A Moderate Number Of Calories
To walk the fine line of building muscle while burning fat, it’s imperative you find your caloric “sweet spot.” You need to eat enough calories to fuel muscle building while encouraging release of fat from storage.
Let’s review my recommendations for each of the macronutrients to see how they work together:
Remember, you’re not on a diet! You’re trying to increase muscle tissue while preferentially burning stored fat. A woman who is going all-out in the gym needs the proper balance of macronutrients and enough calories to fuel her efforts to build muscle and lose fat. That’s what my recommendations are designed to do.
6. Use Cardio To Burn Fat, Not Calories
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they’re trying to burn body fat is performing lengthy sessions of steady-state cardio. This works for burning calories, but it can also spin you into a caloric deficit where your body begins to preferentially burn muscle tissue over body fat. Instead, use high-intensity interval training (HIIT) as your primary form of cardio. Why? HIIT has been shown to preserve muscle mass, and even enhance fat use as fuel.[4,5] That’s a winning combination!
After a warm-up of 3-5 minutes, perform your first interval by going all-out for 60 seconds. Then allow yourself to recover by backing off until your heart rate returns to a comfortable rate, which should take 2-4 minutes. At that point, you are ready to go all-out again. The key with HIIT is to go full-force like a bat of out hell on those work intervals. Otherwise, your results will be disappointing.
HIIT is very taxing for your body, so don’t attempt it every day. Do 1-3 sessions per week, with 3 as the absolute max. If you feel like HIIT is draining your energy in the weights department, scale back.