5 Surprising Things Causing You To Lose Muscle
You can work out every day and still LOSE muscle
Gaining and losing muscle is more complicated than you may think. There are countless ways to easily sabotage all of the progress you’ve made at the gym with what, how much, and when you’re eating. This goes along with how you’re working out at the gym.
I had the opportunity to speak with Baltimore’s Katie Sampayo author of the Bestselling book, “Eat to Thrive: The Anti-Diet Cookbook”. She gave me these great guidelines below on how to make sure you’re not losing precious muscle gains when training at the gym and when consuming foods throughout the week.
1. Protein consumption
We all know that consuming protein is essential for muscle growth. What you may not realize is that the timing of when you consume protein is just as important as how much. Consuming protein later in the day, not first thing in the morning, can affect effective muscle growth.
For example eating 10–15 grams of protein for breakfast and lunch, and then eating over 60 grams for dinner would not be the best way to consume your protein if you’re trying to gain muscle.
Instead, spread your protein intake evenly throughout the day. Aim for 20 to 30 grams at each meal as a guideline if you’re consuming 5–6 meals/snacks per day.
It’s also extremely important to consume protein within 30–60 minutes of working out. Specifically, 10 to 20 grams of lean protein within this time frame is essential for replenishing and building your muscles. Aka “feeding them”. This is what actually makes you stronger after lifting weights. It’s more about the aftercare.
Eating fruits and veggies with your protein sources, like meats and dairy, is just as important as the timing. Fruits and vegetables supply potassium and magnesium that protect your muscles from different acids found in these protein sources that can cause long-term muscle damage. So don’t skimp on the produce if you want to gain muscle and actually enjoy having it.
Progressing your workout routine is KEY to increasing your strength, endurance, and muscle mass. If you keep lifting the same 10 pound weights, your muscle tone and strength will not increase. You need to progress your workouts, which means adding on more reps and weights gradually to increase your strength and muscle growth.
3. Get Adequate Sleep
During sleep, growth hormone is produced and protein synthesis (provided protein is consumed prior to sleep) occurs. The main benefits of getting adequate sleep are increasing energy levels and restoring and repairing muscles and other fibers and cells.
In other words, a lack of sleep will leave you feeling weak, sluggish, and less energized which will impact the quality of your workouts and will result in a much slower muscle growth process. This is because you’re not providing your body with the energy it needs to repair itself and build muscle.
The amount of sleep you need differs from person to person. Some people function optionally on only 6 hours of sleep a night, when others need at least 8 hours of sleep to function optimally. A rule of thumb is to aim for 8–9 hours of sleep on days you’re heavily active or heavily workout. On less active days you can get away with 6.5–8 hours of sleep to function optimally.
Water is the most important nutrient your body needs to function. If you don’t drink enough water, you will be fatigued, which will affect the quality of your workout.
Since muscles are also primarily made of water, dehydration can prevent muscles from properly contracting, reducing muscle tone.
Think of a grape compared to a raisin. Grapes are hydrated, plump, and juicy. Raisins are dehydrated and shriveled-up like a 90 year old’s skin texture. Now imagine this happening to your muscles.
It’s simple: Drinking more water = having plumper, more defined muscles.
5. Drink less alcohol
Alcohol dehydrates your body, which we’ve already talked about why that’s not good for muscle growth.
It’s also an empty calorie, which means there are zero nutrients associated with each calorie you consume. In other words, there are NO health benefits, and you will be hungry within a few minutes of consuming an alcoholic beverage if you haven’t eaten within the past 2–3 hours. This is why people tend to overeat when drinking alcohol. It doesn’t actually fill you up, and when you consume more calories than you burn, you gain weight, which decreases your muscle tone. In other words, this is when cellulite and flabby arms appear.
To avoid losing your muscle stay hydrated, limit your alcohol intake, aim for 7–9 hours of sleep each night, push yourself in your workouts by increasing your weight and reps regularly, and consume the right amount of protein at the right time. According to Katie “If you follow these guidelines, your muscle gains will continue to increase and you will have the body of your dreams”.