I’m always asked if you can really lose fat maintain muscle or its simply a myth perpetuated by the industry.
The reason I’m asked so much is probably due to the fact we are in an era where everything is quickly assesible at the click of a mouse. What you want you get…and straight away.
In regards to your training program, the problem is that people want the same and are always on the look out for the next workout system advertised online that promises you can build muscle and get ripped at the same time.
If you’re new to training you might get sucked in by these diet scams, but that’s not to say that theres no merit in the principle of being able to lose fat maintain muscle.
So can you really shift fat quickly and hang onto your muscle mass?
Lets find out…
Killing Two Birds With One Stone
We always want more..better value for money, enhanced results for our effort and to be honest there’s nothing wrong with that. As long as you are realistic about what you can attain then setting goals based on those things is no bad thing.
The question is, can the human body build muscle and lose fat at the same time?
Educated bodybuilders are usually pretty clued up when it comes to manipulating your body composition, they know how to build muscle and they know how to shift fat fast.It’s therefore interesting that traditional bodybuilding dogma dictates that you should adopt mass building and cutting cycles.
They spend 9 months of the year in a mass gaining phase where they try to pack on as much muscle as possible. The other 3 months on a cutting cycle where they try to lose body fat whilst maintaining the muscle they gained over the winter.
The Catch 22 Situation
There is logic in this approach as its generally accepted that your body can’t lose fat maintain muscle at the same time. It has to focus on one goal.
To summarise, you can not build muscle or lose fat optimally if you are trying to do two different things at once, its the equivalent of driving in separate directions.
This is because the diet set up is completely different depending on your goals:
To gain muscle mass you need to consume more calories that you burn.
To lose fat you need to consume less calories than you burn
The fact is, you can gain muscle on a weight loss diet and vice versa but it won’t be anything noticeable so you are best focussing on one goal and adjusting your diet and training to suit it.
The Dieting Dilemma
Once you accept that concentrating on one goal will help you to attain it faster you can stop living in limbo and really focus your efforts on the task at hand.
On that note, it bring me onto the dilemma faced by everyone that’s built muscle over winter and now wants to strip off the fat to let their muscles shine!
Dieting is a naturally catabolic process, catabolism is the process of breaking down your body to reduce its size. Catabolism usually occurs when you give your body less calories that it requires to carry out its daily duties (keeping you alive, exercise etc).
Your body has less calories to use for energy so needs to get the missing calories from your body (which in turn makes you smaller), the problem is the body will break down muscle for fuel.
When your body needs energy it looks for carbs first of all, most cutting diets are low carb so when it cannot find carbs present it breaks down you muscles for energy. This is bad as the whole point of a diet is fat loss!
So how do you lose fat maintain muscle?
Lose Fat Maintain Muscle: Top Tips
It is possible to diet and keep 98% of your muscle mass. You will never be able to keep it all due to the nature of dieting which is a destructive process, the idea is making sure its your fat that’s being torched not your muscles being harvested!
Here’s my top tips to lose fat maintain muscle:
- 1 – Your Diet Must Be High in Protein – You need at least 1g of protein per pound of body weight usually, this should be bumped up to 1.5g per pound during dieting. It keeps you full and helps you to retain your lean mass (i.e. your muscles)
- 2 – Keep The Weights Heavy – The biggest mistake people make when dieting is to start doing lighter weights and higher reps. They figure that the increase in reps leads to more calories burnt, whilst this is true, its also the best way to lose you muscle. Keeping the weights heavy teaches your body to use fat for fuel instead of muscle as if you lift heavy weights reguarly, your body knows it will need to do this task again soon. It retains your muscle to assist with this task and uses fat for energy instead which is exactly what you want to do!
- 3 – Don’t Do Too Much Cardio – People mistakenly assume you need to do tonnes of cardio to lose fat, this isn’t true. In fact, if you diet is set up you will be able to lose fat perfectly without it. This is ideal as when you stop losing fat you can reintroduce cardio to get things moving again. Too much cardio will make you weak and you need to be lifting heavy weights (as per tip 2!) to ensure the right fuel is being used.
- 4 – Don’t Drop Calories Too Drastically – Cutting your calories too much is asking for trouble, there comes a point (usually around 1200 calories a day) where consuming any less than this means you are missing out on vital nutrients. In addition to this, food intake this low will slow your metabolism down until it grinds to a halt. This is an example of where you could add cardio to burn off some more calories if required.
Whilst these tips are the fundamentals of fat loss and muscle retention its important that your overall training and nutrition program complement each other.
You’ll find all the information you need right here: