One of the main reasons people exercise is to either build muscle or maintain current muscle mass. And exercise is good for both of these. But what happens when the opposite happens and you’re actually losing muscle instead? Well, the first step is to figure out why and here are five all-too-common reasons to consider:
- Working out in the morning on an empty stomach. When your body doesn’t have the energy it needs to sustain you during your early morning workout because you didn’t eat breakfast first, it has to get its energy from somewhere. “Somewhere” at that point is generally your muscles.
- Not eating enough calories throughout the day. If your muscles don’t get the energy they need because you’re consuming too few calories throughout the day, then they either aren’t going to grow or will actually reduce in size, neither of which are good.
- You don’t eat enough protein. Protein is absolutely essential to growing your muscles, so not taking in enough of this one macronutrient is one way to contribute to muscle loss. That is why so many body builders and elite athletes drink protein shakes. It ensures that they get the nutrients they need for their muscles to get bigger and stronger.
- You’re not giving your muscles adequate time to heal. When you subject your muscles to a grueling strength training workout, they need time to heal (like 24-48 hours) in order to grow. Not giving them this time limits their growth potential and can actually do more harm than good.
- You don’t change up your exercise routine. There is an old adage that “variety is the spice of life” and this is even truer when it comes to exercise. By doing the same things over and over again your body becomes accustomed to them and you no longer experience gains, sometimes even resulting in a loss.
So, if you are experiencing muscle loss versus gain, ask yourself whether one of these reasons is to blame. If it is, correct it and you will be one step closer to experiencing gains yet again.
If it isn’t one of these factors, then you may want to make an appointment with your doctor to rule out any other issues. Just to be on the safe side.