How To Lose Fat And Keep Muscle
How to Lose Fat and Keep Muscle in 30 Days
Now, despite some of the crazy things you may have heard before about how to lose fat, the truth is that there is just one major requirement, reducing your calorie intake (eat less calorie than you need also called caloric deficit). You must eat fewer calories than your body is accustomed to in order to drop body fat. The easiest way to cut calories ? Eliminate excess dietary fat and refined carbs from your diet – meaning no butter, white bread, pasta, cakes, chips, cookies, chocolates, ice creams, oils, salad dressings (low-fat or fat-free dressings are okay); remove the skin from chicken; substitute egg whites for most of your whole eggs; avoid whole-milk dairy products; and ditch marbled red meats such as rib-eye for lean cuts such as flank. Refined carbs digest quickly, raising insulin levels substantially and higher insulin levels can decrease fat-burning and enhance fat storage, which is why you should avoid them. Conversely, slow-digesting carbs (found in whole-grain breads, oatmeal, sweet potatoes and legumes) don’t cause much of an insulin rise, so these should make up the vast majority of your carb consumption. Keep some healthy fats in your diet, such as salmon, mixed nuts and avocados.
As we’ve explained few times before (for example: Calories In vs Calories Out), a caloric deficit is what happens when you consume less calories than your body needs to burn for energy performing all of the tasks it needs to perform over the course of the day (move, breathe, pump blood, digest food, etc.).
When that caloric deficit is present, your body is forced to find some alternative source of energy on your body to burn instead. Ideally, this would only be your stored body fat. However, it can also be your lean muscle tissue.
Sure, you might want your body to just burn body fat and not muscle, but your body just knows that in order for it to survive and function under the current conditions, it will need to pull stored energy from somewhere. And that can mean fat, muscle or a combination of both.
Your mission is to do everything you can to improve the fat:muscle loss ratio as much as possible and basically signal your body to maintain ALL of your muscle and ONLY burn body fat. But the question is how ?
Here are what we’d consider to be the best ways to lose fat WITHOUT losing muscle :
- Eat Enough Protein : A sufficient daily protein intake is the single most important dietary requirement for maintaining muscle. It’s not meal timing, or supplements, or the exact size of your caloric deficit, or the quality of the foods you eat or anything else diet related. Nutritionally speaking, losing fat without losing muscle is all about eating enough protein every day. Numerous studies have proven this to be true. Even in the absence of a proper weight training routine, more of the weight you lose will be body fat rather than muscle mass just as a result of an increased protein intake. So, the first step of any muscle-preserving diet is always getting your ideal amount of protein for the day. Just what is “ideal?” Well, the good “1 gram of protein per pound of body weight” recommendation still remains a perfectly fine starting point for most people with this goal in mind. Your major protein sources should be lean meats (chicken, steak, turkey breast, tuna), egg whites (the yolks contain the fat, so discard most of them when you’re trying to lose fat), protein powder (whey or casein) and low-fat cottage cheese. You also may want to read Protein Weight Loss Diet , Weight Loss Protein Diet and High Protein Diet Menu For Weight Loss.
- Keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of water. To find out how many ounces of water you should be consuming every day, multiply your body weight in pounds by 0.6. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be consuming around 90 ounces (2.60 liters) of water daily (150 x 0.6 = 90).
- Maintain Strength/Intensity/Weight On The Bar : And now here is the single most important training requirement for anyone who wants to lose fat without losing muscle. Simply put, the primary training stimulus required for maintaining muscle is maintaining your current levels of strength. You know how gradually getting stronger (aka the progressive overload principle) is what signals your body to begin the muscle building process ? Well, on a fat loss diet, just maintaining your current levels of strength (aka intensity, aka the weight on the bar) is what now signals your body to maintain muscle. If that signal goes away, your body’s need to keep your muscle tissue around goes away right along with it. That’s why the insanely stupid myth of lifting heavier weights to build muscle but then lifting lighter weights (for higher reps) when you want to lose fat, get lean and get toned is the absolute worst thing you could possibly believe when you’re trying to avoid losing muscle. In reality, you lift heavy weight to build muscle, and then lift that same heavy weight if you want to actually maintain that muscle.If you start purposely lifting lighter weights while in a caloric deficit, your body essentially thinks: “It looks like we only need to lift lighter weights now. We guess all of that muscle we built for the purpose of being able to lift heavy weight is no longer needed. Time to start burning it for energy instead of body fat!”
Not too good, right ? This means that your primary weight training goal is to, at the very least, NOT lose strength. This in turn will allow you to NOT lose muscle.
For example, if you currently bench press 200lbs, your goal throughout the duration of your fat loss phase is to end up bench pressing that same 200lbs (or more if possible) when you’re done and all of the fat has been lost. The same goes for every other exercise in your routine.
Sure, you can continue trying to get stronger and continue trying to make progressive overload happen while losing fat. It can and does happen (especially for beginners, who should still be progressing consistently even in a deficit).
But, if you’re past the beginner’s stage, don’t be surprised if it’s much harder to do and the best you can do is just maintain strength rather than increase it.
This is fine of course, as just maintaining the amount of weight you currently lift on every exercise is the key weight training requirement for losing fat WITHOUT losing muscle.
- Reduce Weight Training Volume and/or Frequency : A caloric deficit is really an energy deficit, and while this is fantastic (and required) for losing any amount of body fat, it kinda sucks for all things training related (recovery, work capacity, volume tolerance, performance, etc.). What that means is, the workout routine you would be using with great success to build muscle, increase strength or make whatever other positive improvements to your body under normal circumstances (where there is no deficit present) will often be TOO MUCH for your body to tolerate and optimally recover from in the energy deficient state it is currently in. And do you know what this scenario will ALWAYS lead to? One in which you’re not recovering properly from your workouts ? A loss of strength. And do you know what a loss of strength will ALWAYS lead to, especially while in a caloric deficit ? A loss of muscle.Like we explained earlier, the key training requirement for maintaining muscle is simply maintaining strength. The problem is, if you’re using a workout routine that you aren’t properly recovering from, the opposite of this is going to happen.
The workout routine that seemed perfect before when those beneficial extra calories were present is now the reason your workouts are getting harder, you’re getting weaker, reps are decreasing, weight on the bar needs to be reduced, and your fat loss phase (aka the cutting phase) ends with you having lost way more muscle and strength than you should have. That means reducing training volume (the total amount of sets, reps and/or exercises being done), reducing training frequency (the total amount of workouts being done per week and per muscle group), or a combination of both.
- Do INTENSE Cardiovascular Workouts 3-4 Times A Week : This is where the majority of the calorie burning takes place. Not necessarily from the cardio you just did, but from the fact that doing cardio increases your metabolic rate so that the rest of the day you will burn off more calories as well. Treat your cardio days like you do your workouts. That means put all of your energy and intensity into your cardio. Do 20-30 minutes of cardio 3-4 days a week. During a session of cardio, warm-up for 5 minutes, then do 20 minutes at a high intensity pace. Then cool down for the last 5 minutes. Get your body out of homeostasis (every things normal and in balance). Doing cardio for the sakes of doing it will not burn fat. Going for a leisurely walk will not sufficiently burn fat, unless you walk ten miles. Riding a stationary bike while relaxingly reading the paper will not burn much fat. Choose cardio machines that get more of your body moving. The more you move, the more you burn.