Generally speaking, we tend to think of losing weight when someone talks about wanting to get healthier. But that doesn't mean that's the case for everyone and there are certainly several other health related goals that have nothing to do with getting to a specific number on the scale. We also know that the scale doesn't tell the entire story - like in the case of building muscle and simultaneously losing body fat, also known as, body composition change.
Body composition refers to everything that's made up in our body but is usually split into two different categories: (1) fat (all the fat tissue in our body) and (2) fat-free mass (this would include water weight, skeletal muscle, lean body tissue, organs, bone, etc.)
Most people know that nutrition and exercising can affect body weight as well as their body composition but we actually need to be a bit more strategic if we want lasting changes to our body composition. Successful body composition changes usually results in a decrease in body fat, an increase of lean body mass (muscle), or best case scenario, both.
So how do we do this? We want to aim for these 4 principles to ensure successful body composition change:
1. Eat in a conservative calorie deficit or you can choose to eat at maintenance, though the composition changes may be slower. You don't have to slash your calories in half to lose weight - start with a conservative decrease in calories and monitor your progress and make adjustments as needed. Eating at maintenance will also allow you to simultaneously build muscle and shed body fat, though at a much slower rate. But if you're not in a rush or dont have any specific weight loss goals, this would be my suggested method. 2. Incorporate consistent resistance training. Resistance training helps build and preserve muscle mass, especially if you're dieting. Not to mention the amazing other benefits like improved sleep quality, feeling strong and using it as a tool to destress. 3. Eat an adequate amount of protein. Protein is important for everyone regardless of your physique goals and you should be eating an adequate amount (around .73g-1g/lb bodyweight), though slightly more if you are dieting. Protein helps reduce hunger, aids in muscle mass retention and is slower digesting compared to carbs and fats (so you'll stay fuller for longer). 4. Use photos and measurements to assess your progress. For reasons shared above, scales dont tell the whole story and it is one simple tool in your toolbox when it comes to measuring your progress. Pictures and measurements will show greater "proof" of the changes happening to your body.
Many people fail with diets because they get impatient, don't see results quick enough, or they fail to remember that improving their health and fitness is a lifelong process, not something that's usually accomplished and sustained in 6 months time. Focus on making the journey enjoyable and sustainable and you can absolutely achieve lasting body composition changes and life-long success.