If you are trying to lose weight, you are actually trying to lose the fat content of your body, correct? You may have been on fad diets, even diets where you think you’re eating all the right foods, but your weight ends up resembling a yo-yo. The yo-yo effect is common to 80% of people who diet, and that is because they do not know how to lose fat and keep muscle, but through dangerous dieting techniques, they are depleting body mass in the form of water, muscle and sometimes even organ tissue.
How to lose weight and keep muscle
When on a calorie deficit our body looks for any energy at all to use to keep functioning. This does not necessarily have to be fat. If our body burns muscle at a high rate, you will notice that no matter how much weight you lose, you may never actually gain definition. The gold standard set by society is having visible and defined abs, to achieve this we must remove the fat around them – not the abdominal muscles themselves.
Top 4 keys to avoid muscle wasting
Here are a few tips to make sure you keep muscle loss to a minimum while on a cut cycle:
- Consume 1g of Protein per every pound of fat free mass. For example, a 180 pound man at 20% body fat would have roughly 144 pound of lean body mass. This would mean he would aim to consume roughly 140g of protein in his diet daily. Protein contains amino acids which are the building blocks for muscles. Even with adequate strength training, if you are not consuming enough protein you are doomed to lose muscle.
- Keep your calorie deficit relatively low. Using the calculation I provided in my last article we know that it takes about a 500 calorie a day deficit to burn 1 pound of fat per week. This is the safest deficit to use for both moderate weight loss, and muscle maintenance.
- Strength Train! This is necessary! Try and work each muscle group roughly every 3 days. You could work 2 muscle groups at a time. This sends signs to your body telling it that you are using that muscle and not to use it as a source of energy!
It is important to note that sometimes your propensity to keep or lose muscle on a cut cycle is genetics. Some people have an extremely hard time keeping muscle while some people effortlessly maintain their muscle mass throughout a cut cycle. Following steps 1,2, and 3 will give you a fairly even playing field though.
For all the ladies that are scared of growing big muscles and losing their femininity: It is impossible. Men are naturally born with more muscle fibres and the hormones needed for hypertrophy. Women will not gain huge muscles unless they are taking a hormone related supplement. Strength training is NOT just for guys.
If you are going to lose weight, you may as well do it once and correctly. There is no point on getting to your goal weight and still be well above the body fat you need to get those visible abs. No excuses.