Is losing fat without losing muscle possible?
There are thousands of websites and millions of articles on the internet claiming to show you how to lose fat without losing muscle mass.
Let's be honest—there's no way to lose fat without losing some muscle. That's just a biological fact. But that doesn't mean you can't get a leaner, firmer, better body. You can minimize muscle loss while losing fat by working out properly and eating the right food.
This is the mindset you need to have when you decide to lose fat—accept that there will be some muscle loss. Unfortunately, some casualties are necessary on the path you’re taking.
But there is one exception. If you’re a beginner (I mean, if this is the first time you’ve started weight lifting), it's possible to gain muscle while losing fat. Why? Because you don't have enough muscle to lose. You can only gain muscle.
1. A calorie deficit is important
Heaps of research proves that a calorie deficit is the most significant factor for fat loss. When you consume fewer calories daily than your body needs, it will dip into its energy reserves for fuel. Most people believe their body will burn fat to create energy, but your body isn’t picky when it needs energy. It will break down some stores of fat as well as muscle protein for fuel.
This is why it's so hard to maintain muscle while losing fat; our body's mechanism won't let us only lose fat. You need to accept that when you create a deficit in your calorie intake. You will lose muscle and fat at the same time. But you can rebuild muscle while losing it with the proper exercise and food—topics covered in tips #2 and #3.
2. Strength training & high volume training
When trying to minimize muscle mass loss while losing fat, weight lifting should be your primary exercise—not cardio. When you are in a calorie deficit, your body will lose weight (both fat and muscle). But to counter weight loss by building muscle, you need to do heavy strength training with high volume.
Strength training puts lots of stress on your muscles that causes microscopic tears and the breakdown of muscle proteins. This phase is followed by the muscle protein synthesis phase, where the damaged tissue is repaired. A high protein diet is essential in this repair phase to preserve muscle mass.
3. Eat more protein
Protein is essential for building muscle. After all, your muscles are made of protein. Letting your muscle tissue heal after intense exercise increases your muscle mass. Protein is an essential part of that healing process.
How much protein do you need? Many studies suggest getting between 0.8–1.2 g of protein per pound of body weight. But having that much protein each day is difficult if you are not super athletic or haven’t already adopted such eating habits. You also have to remember that you should already be in a calorie deficit. Most food sources that are high in protein are also high in calories.
This is where chicken breasts come into play. If you want to know why bodybuilders and gym-goers are so obsessed with chicken breasts, this is the reason. They’re a great food that contains a large amount of protein but a relatively low number of calories. Not to mention, they’re also cheaper than most other meats.
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