7 Easy Steps to Lose Fat and Keep Muscle
This science-backed diet is one of the healthiest in the world, experts say.
When it comes to weight loss, the ideal strategy is to burn fat while maintaining muscle mass. However, super-restrictive diets can oftentimes result in a loss of both. This month, a new study found that one diet in particular is effective for maintaining muscle while blasting fat.
According to a new study from the Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea-Plus (PREDIMED-Plus), the Mediterranean diet, partnered with physical activity, can effectively counteract fat gain and muscle mass loss.
Mediterranean Diet and Exercise Can Help You Stay Lean and Strong as You Age
The research, published in JAMA Network Open on Oct. 18, found that a lower-calorie Mediterranean diet paired with increased physical activity can reduce aging-related weight gain and muscle loss.
Researchers divided 1,521 overweight or obese middle-aged and older participants into two groups. Both followed the Mediterranean diet, one reduring total caloric intake by 30 percent and increasing physical activity and the other without any calorie restrictions or changes in physical activity.
After three years, the first group experienced "clinically meaningful" changes in body composition, including a 5% or greater improvement in fat mass, visceral (belly) fat mass and loss of lean muscle mass after only one year of following it.
Follow These 7 Easy Steps
According to the American Heart Association, the Mediterranean diet is heart-healthy. "This style of eating can play a big role in preventing heart disease and stroke and reducing risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. There is some evidence that a Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil may help the body remove excess cholesterol from arteries and keep blood vessels open," they explain, offering seven easy steps for following it:
1. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
2. Eat bread and other grains, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds
3. Consume olive oil as a primary fat source
4. Eat low to moderate amounts of dairy products, including eggs
5. Eat low to moderate amounts of fish and poultry, with some red meat
6. Try and consume minimally processed, plant-based foods
7. Wine can be consumed in low to moderate amounts.