Can you maintain your muscle if you stop working out

So, you’ve been working out for quite a long now and you feel that your body needs a rest – or you simply have to take some time away from the gym. But you may be worried if you’re going to lose your muscle strength and mass if you take time off. Well, yes, if you stop working out
completely, you’ll slowly start losing your muscle mass. Still, this isn’t an overnight process, it doesn’t even happen in a single week or a month. Let’s look further into this!

Loss of muscle mass – how long does it take?

If you completely stop training or doing formal exercises your body still doesn’t let your muscles “go” so fast. Actually, it takes 2-3 weeks – according to some studies – of complete detraining to slowly start losing muscle mass. But those studies have focused on the lean mass. It may take even longer to start losing your actual muscles.

Still, if you take more than a month off, then the changes are that you’ll start losing muscle weight. But, remember, once you get back to training, your body will gain strength and mass faster than the first time.

How to maintain your muscle during your time off?

  • Eat enough – you should definitely eat enough because the ability of the body to maintain your muscle mass largely depends on the amount of food you eat. Still, look for the balance. If you consume more calories than you burn, this will lead to gain of fat. But if you consume less calories than you burn, then you’ll lose fat but you’ll also lose muscle mass.
  • Stay active – there are other types of exercises besides those in the gym. For example, you can go walking or just take the steps instead of the elevator. The more active you are, the better for your muscles.
  • If you’ve taken time off due to an injury, try to work out on the muscle groups which have not been affected by the injury.
  • Consume enough protein – it’s not necessary to consume as much protein as you’ll need when you are working out. When you are taking time off then you can maintain your muscle mass while consuming about 0.6-0.8 g of protein per a pound of body weight daily. But some research suggests that slightly larger protein amounts may be even better – so you can implement about 0.8-1 g of protein per a pound of body weight every day during your rest period.

Resources:
https://www.muscleforlife.com/how-fast-you-lose-muscle-when-you-stop-working-out/

https://inbodyusa.com/blogs/inbodyblog/what-happens-when-you-stop-working-out/

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