My goal is to convert body fat to muscle. I am female, 59 years old, 120 lbs. I want to eat for energy and not be hungry. My current body fat is 33% and would like to be 24%. –Lola M.
It is important to note that our bodies do NOT actually “CONVERT” fat into muscle. This is a common misnomer in the world of health, fitness and weight loss. Fat and muscle must be understood as two separate parts of your body; likewise, reducing body fat and building muscle are two separate processes.
Obviously food alone will not accomplish your goal no matter how healthy your diet is. Burning fat requires an energy (Calorie) deficit whereas building muscle requires a caloric surplus. Having both processes occur simultaneously is quite the challenge, regardless of age, gender and body weight because one contradicts the other.
Muscle tissue only grows in response to a stimulus greater than it presently handles. This is called the principle of overload. Resistance exercise such as weight training is the primary means to accomplish this.
Fueling your workouts appropriately will get you the most results from your workout efforts. The rest of the day you need to maintain a negative energy balance or Calorie deficit. To skim Calories without being hungry, you’ll want appetite sustaining foods, such as lean proteins and complex carbohydrates complemented by a little plant fat like avocado.
Timing may be the trick to get Calories to support muscle growth and not fat maintenance. Avoid eating within 2-3 hours of bedtime and break meals into smaller snacks to consume every few hours. Have the bulk of your Calories mid-day when you are most active. Follow your workouts with a recovery snack as suggested in our article Eat Like This to Help Maximize your Recovery and Results. Good Luck, Lola! – Debbie J., MS, RD
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Debbie James is a registered dietitian. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or recommendations of Fitness International, LLC.