Training in the Heat | How to Prevent Muscle Atrophy

How to Keep Gaining When the Heat is Flaming

Exercising in the heat for weight loss is a divisive topic, but for athletes trying to keep the pounds on while putting in hard work in the heat, keeping gains intact is no easy feat. Muscle atrophy (AKA muscle loss) is the last thing you want when you are trying to gain or maintain your mass and weight. For a hardgainer who struggles to put on weight in the first place, training in hot weather can be a fitness nightmare!

Your metabolism increases when you’re cold, suggesting winter is when you’ll burn more calories. This is because your body works harder to stay warm. When faced with the wearying effects of heat, your body slows down to conserve energy so that it doesn’t overheat.


One of the main reasons the number on the scale may be lower when you step on it in the summer is because of dehydration. You may have lost water weight in the heat. This is not an effective weight loss method for anyone trying to trim down because it is water that you need to stay healthy, and it is a weight that you will also put on just as quickly.


If you are sticking to a rigorous workout plan – especially training in the heat – it is easy to lose weight. Don’t be fooled by all the sweat – this doesn’t necessarily equal weight loss, but the effort does. Because of the extra energy required to fight on and train in the intense heat, your muscles work harder and thus burn off the calories that you want to keep on for mass muscle gains.

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So How Can You Prevent Muscle Atrophy?


An obstacle faced by athletes and weight lifters who are dependent on their mass gains is the issue of keeping on weight while maintaining a highly strenuous physical regimen which burns calories far faster than many realise or admit. This is heightened in the summer, with people finding it more difficult to keep weight on in the heat. A lot of the weight lost in the summer will be fat, but inevitably some of it will be muscle.


The reason for weight loss for bigger athletes in the heat is basically due to a calorie deficit. This means that you are not consuming enough calories to compensate for the sheer amount you are burning off. Your body then burns fat and muscle for energy, which leads them to lose weight. Frankly, for bodybuilders and bigger athletes, the recommended 2,000 calorie-a-day diet isn’t enough.


The answer is to take a look at your nutrition and revise what you consume as the weather warms up. You know already that you need proteins and carbs – and an excess at that. But if you’re already getting your gains, where can you find extras? Here are a few foods that you can easily fit into your diet:

Nutrition to Prevent Muscle Loss

Peanut Butter


A two-tablespoon serving of peanut butter packs 188 calories and 8g of protein. It’s also high in healthy fats, which helps reduce joint inflammation and promotes muscle formation.


Fruit and Nut Trail Mix


The nuts in trail mix are high in calories and protein and the fruit is a good source of energy to rival heat exhaustion. These make one of the most handy snacks to have throughout the day or added to yoghurt in the morning.

Healthy Oils


Healthy oils such as peanut, olive, grapeseed, avocado and coconut oil are good sources of calories and healthy fats. They contain a lot of calories in small amounts.

Avocados and Eggs


A perfect way to start your day, or to prepare in advance to take with you on the go, eggs provide a solid amount of calories and protein in a small package. That means you can consume a decent amount before you start feeling full – a bonus if you want to gain weight.


Avocados contain around 322 calories and 4g of protein. They travel alright too, so make a good addition to boiled eggs in an air-tight container. Avocado and eggs both work well together; try them in a salad or on some wholemeal toast.

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Embrace Supplements


Whey shakes are the perfect way to ensure you meet your daily protein and carb goals. Especially when you are looking to increase the amount you consume and are already eating plenty, shakes are a good way to measure how much you’re getting. If you’re struggling to keep on your weight, go for shakes designed for mass building.


Creatine Monohydrate has been proven to increase physical performance in successive bursts of short-term, high-intensity exercise, which is beneficial for power lifting and body building in terms of seeking those gains. This can be achieved with a daily intake of 3g of creatine.

In Addition…

Don’t neglect your sleep. This is when much of your growth occurs and with the longer days and lighter nights, it’s not uncommon to lose a few hours or so here or there. If rest is an issue, another thing to focus on in your diet is magnesium, which can help you with a healthy, natural sleep when taken before bed.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye has a MSc in Sport Physiology and Nutrition, and puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding. She enjoys a pun, and in her spare time loves dog walking and eating out.

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