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Strategies to gain muscle while losing weight

3. Eat more than 25 grams of protein four times a day.

“We’ve all heard the cliché, ‘abs are made in the kitchen.’ It’s so true,” says Thomas Roe, American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, endurance athlete, founder of TRoe Fitness, and owner of Local Moves Studio in San Antonio, Texas.

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Following a strict nutrition plan high in lean protein (chicken and turkey breast, fish, tofu, and tempeh are good examples) while doing the right kinds of exercise can help maintain muscle.

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That’s because your muscles use the protein you eat to grow or get stronger. By cutting calories, your body’s muscles can be less sensitive to the protein you eat, says Spano.

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Therefore, in a to study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, when exercising men followed a low-calorie, high-protein diet for four weeks, they lost 10.56 pounds of fat while gaining 2.64 pounds of lean muscle. Meanwhile, those who followed a diet with the same number of calories, but less protein, only lost 7.7 pounds of fat and gained less than a quarter of a pound of muscle.

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“Also, this protein intake should be evenly spaced throughout the day,” says Spano. This keeps your muscles fueled with a constant stream of building blocks.

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Actually a 2018 revision in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition concluded that for optimal muscle growth, people should consume between 0.2 and 0.25 grams of protein per pound of body weight four times a day.

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For a 180-pound adult, that equates to four meals of 33 to 45 grams of protein. Other research recommends 25 to 35 grams of protein at each meal for most adults, and slightly more for vegetarians and vegans.

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