Do I really need to care about holding onto muscle mass if I just want to get lighter on the scale and see my clothes fit better?
Having some muscle on your body will make your dieting efforts much easier. Your muscle burns fat even while you're sitting on the couch.
Muscle is a metabolically active tissue, much more so than fat. This means that muscle burns calories even when you are doing nothing. Having more muscle means you can eat more and still lose fat.
The best way to gain muscle is through resistance training, e.g. weight lifting. This can be done 2 or 3 times per week for good results.
Bottom line, muscle is what gives your body shape. You can lose all the fat you want but if you don't have any muscle to show then you won't have any real shape to show.
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