It is possible to burn a lot of fat without losing muscle. Both muscle and fat are two completely different tissues and are built and lost for 2 very different reasons so muscle building and fat loss are not in opposition to each other.
Here are 4 tips to ensure your fat loss doesn’t also cost you a lot of of your hard earned muscle.
#1- Make strength training a priority.
Your muscles only stick around if you continuously give them a damn good reason to do so. No food or supplement in the world can preserve muscle so the instructions telling your muscles to stick around or grow must come from the workload they experience.
So don’t shy away from the strength training. It doesn’t matter if you use free weights, machines or body weight. Just make it a high priority.
Oh, and forget about doing some sort of “toning” or sculpting style of weight loss strength training. Train with the focus of trying to pack on as much muscle as possible. Again, you’ve got to make a very strong argument that screams HEY KEEP THAT MUSCLE!!!” You’re probably not going to be doing that if you’re doing endless biceps curls with a couple of soup cans.
#2- Eat to your estimated BMR
Eating less is a great strategy for weight loss, but only up to a point. I’m a huge fan of dialing back the diet back to a “low level” but after you reach that level use activity to really burn off the calories.
I find that eating to roughly your BMR is a good target for most folks. You can find calculators on line to get a rough estimate for what your BMR is. Try a few of them and then take an average. That’s roughly the amount of calories you want to eat when you’re looking to create a negative calorie deficit.
This number is special because it ensures you’re not eating enough to compensate for the calories burned through activity, but it’s not so low that you’re going to be really stressing out your body.
#3- Eat real foods
Many people who are looking to lose weight end up going with a lot of shakes and supplements. Again, nothing in these products can ever directly cause fat loss. In addition, they never taste all that great, rarely satisfy hunger and are often packed with far more sugar than you’ll ever use.
Stick to dietary staples like anything that grows from the ground, such as fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Meat is great and go with staples for starches like rice, breads and pastas. The cool thing about real food is that it tastes a heck of a lot better, satisfies better and can provide you with far more quality nutrition.
#4- Get plenty of sleep
Muscle needs sleep, just as much as it needs good nutrition and exercise. Some folks even lose muscle due to lack of sleep even though their diet and exercise habits are spot on.
Aim to sleep as much as you can. I’m not going to say get 7-8 hours or anything like that. Recommending a certain amount of sleep is just as foolish as recommending what you should eat or how many sets you should do. You need to get as much as you need and you’re the best judge of how much that should be.
Also, don’t try to “catch up” with sleep either. Just like with diet and exercise, success comes from getting a consistent schedule you can rely on at least 4-5 days a week.
These tips will give your muscles a strong fighting chance as you work hard to shed your fat. However, don’t worry too much if your weight loss does come at the cost of a few pounds of muscle. If you could lose all of the weight you want at the cost of 3 pounds of muscle would you consider that a worthwhile price to pay?
Besides, there’s nothing saying you can’t just regain the muscle back again anyway. Muscle lost isn’t muscle that’s gone forever. And don’t worry about gaining back the body fat to pack on the beef. My next post is all about how to build muscle without packing on the flab.