What You Need to Know If You're Trying to Build Muscle While Eating in a Calorie Deficit

It's important that you get enough calories to refuel and replenish your muscles.

7/31/2021 4:08:00 AM

It's important that you get enough calories to refuel and replenish your muscles.

As a general rule, when you're trying to lose weight, you have to eat in a calorie deficit, or take in fewer calories than you burn. But what happens when your

, explained that both weight loss and muscle gain are so highly individual that it's best to consult with a registered dietitian and certified fitness professional to talk about your specific body and goals.These experts cannot only help you determine how much you should eat, but also where you should get those calories."Muscles are comprised of water, protein, fat, and glycogen," Wong told POPSUGAR. When you work out, your muscle fibers break apart, and food is what puts them back together. If you want your muscles to come back bigger and stronger, Wong says protein is key."Without enough protein, not only are you at risk for potentially losing muscle, but you are definitely not able to gain muscle," she explained.

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Wong added that the recommendation is typically one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight."We start with a macronutrient distribution that includes 30 percent protein, assess regularly, and make adjustments based on the person," she said. To put that into perspective,"if [you] start with a hand-size portion of protein at each meal, coupled with a proper strength training plan, that should be a good starting point," Wong said."Most people's hands are proportionate to the rest of their bodies, so this is a good baseline from which to start." But again, it's best to work with a pro than go it alone, so talk to an RD.

Read more: POPSUGAR Fitness »

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