One of the biggest problems a lot of dieters face when losing weight is that they’re not only losing body fat. Many people take the wrong, uninformed approach to dieting and begin to simply lose weight from all over – this means water weight, body fat, and even muscle mass. The latter can be a very bad thing, especially if you’ve worked hard to achieve some definition.
Many dieters do not think about the muscle they’re losing while on a diet. They simply want to lose fat. There are also many people who assume that anything to do with “muscle” is a body-building thing and not a dieting thing.
That’s not necessarily true. Although the whole “fat turns into muscle” line is one of the biggest and most commonly perpetuated myths in the dieting world, building strong, lean muscle mass is a great way to keep your metabolism running on high and to keep burning off fat. A strong, lean body is less likely to store fat. Muscles need the fuel.
Proper dieting is never about what you’re cutting out of your diet so much as what you’re including into your diet. Think of healthy dieting in terms of replacing and not eliminating, and in this instance, we need to replace some of those unhealthy foods with not only healthier options but options that will help to keep your muscle mass.
In this article, we’ll go over six different foods that will allow you to eat guilt-free while still helping to maintain your muscle mass.
6 Muscle-Saving Diet Foods
To some people, this may seem like a no-brainer, but many dieters do not realize just how much protein eggs pack. Sure, they know eggs are versatile, incredible and edible and all that, but it’s really the protein that will help you keep the muscle mass while sticking with your diet.
Eggs are very, very low in calories, very high in protein, and have zero carbohydrates. They’re the perfect diet food, and if you lose the yolk and only eat the white, you’re also getting zero grams of fat.
2: Wild Salmon
Salmon is expensive, so a lot of people tend to stay away from it. But it is a great diet food. The Omega-3 fatty acids in a fish like salmon is great for your health, brain health, and the fact that these are “good” fats means you’re eating a diet-friendly food with no carbs and plenty of protein.
Wild salmon is preferable to farm-raised, as the latter is fed corn and grain and has less protein per serving.
3: Pork Chops (loin)
Pork is called the other white meat for a reason. If you’re eating the loin and staying away from that fatty bacon, you’re getting a huge dose of protein and essential vitamins like B12 without a lot of fat and cholesterol.
According to Purdue University researchers, a 6-ounce serving of lean pork per day can help you to retain muscle mass.
4: Fatty Cheese
Yeah, I know – full-fat cheese sounds like a diet’s worst enemy. But it’s really not. When eaten in moderation, a full-fat cheese can act as a power food. For one, there are few carbohydrates to contend with. Above that, however, you are getting a big shot of casein protein with milk fat, one of the premier muscle-building nutrients out there.
Don’t shatter your diet with cheese, of course, but a few ounces for a serving isn’t going to hurt.
Almost all nuts and seeds are good for dieters, especially when eaten as snacks. Nuts are very high in protein and good fats, so they’re filling without adding bad stuff to your system. But with almonds in particular, you’re getting a big dose of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant – and this elimination of free radicals can help to repair your muscles.
Well, any fan of Popeye knew this was going to make the list. He was strong to the finish from eating his spinach, we all know that. But do you know why? Spinach is one of the most alkaline food sources out there, helping to prevent muscle loss, and as an added bonus, spinach also helps to fight against cancer, heart disease, and diabetes due to its high nutrient profile.
Saving muscle mass is important for most dieters looking to lead a physically active and healthy lifestyle, even if they don’t realize it’s important. These six foods will help you retain muscle mass without breaking your diet and putting the weight back on.