One of the biggest mistakes you could make when they lose weight and burn fat is this:
The possibility of also losing your hard-earned muscle mass.
This is a very real problem if you’re a natural lifter. In fact, as a natural, losing a bit of muscle mass is to be expected.
However, with a little bit of knowledge, you can drastically reduce your muscle loss during your dieting phase. In fact, if you do it right, you’ll retain most of your muscle mass.
One big distinction I want you to know from the very beginning is that weight loss and fat loss are not the same thing. The sooner you understand this, the better off you’ll be.
Weight loss can mean a bunch of different things. When I’ve had a lot of water and carbs for a few days, I will sometimes be 8-10 pounds heavier than normal.
After a couple of days of clean eating and drinking lots of water, I will lose weight fast. I’ll be back to what I was before my vacation.
This is an example of weight loss, but not fat loss. I lost a lot of weight over a couple of days, but I definitely didn’t burn any fat in those 48 hours.
Fat loss is a slower process. Depending on your body fat percentage, it can take several months to lose enough fat until you’re lean.
Remember that the only way to effectively burn body fat is by consistently eating calories under your maintenance levels. When your body burns more calories than you eat, you will start the fat loss process.
But, there are several things you need to do right in order to maximize the amount of fat loss. Let’s discuss a few:
1. Avoid Crazy Amounts Of Cardio
Wait, what? Avoid cardio during a dieting phase? Why would I ever recommend this if you’re trying to burn fat?
Because I want you to retain your muscle. You’re going to have a tough time doing that if you’re implementing a lot of cardio during your diet phase.
When you’re dieting, you’re consuming a lower amount of calories. That’s how you make sure your body is using it’s fat stores.
If you also throw in a bunch of cardio on top of your diet, you may end up being too low in daily calories. As a result, the body will tap into your muscle mass for energy.
This is not good! You want to retain as much muscle as possible while you diet. If your body starts eating it’s mass, you’ll end up rail thin by the end of your diet with nothing to show for.
Therefore, limit the amount of cardio you do. If you enjoy lots of cardio, be sure that you’re eating enough calories to support the exercise. Which leads me to my next point…
2. Don’t Go Too Low In Daily Calories
Some people I’ve known over the years try to diet an extreme amount a couple of weeks before an event. They’ll reduce their calories drastically eating only one or two small meals per day.
To make matter worse, they go to spin class 4 times per week which is burning 400-500 calories per session.
This is exactly how you lose your muscle mass: you’re eating only 800 calories (if that) per day, and then burning another 500 calories in the spin class.
Your total net calories for the day is only 300 in this case. If your goal is to lose the nice butt you worked so hard to build, this is how you do it.
One of my friends who diets like this has a flat ass. She keeps asking me why, even though I’ve told her a million times to stop with her bullshit diet and spin classes.
Does she listen? Hell no. Don’t be an idiot like her.
3. Lift Weights At Least 3 Times Per Week
Just because you’re dieting doesn’t mean you should stop going to the gym. By continuing to lift weights and make progress, you’ll be giving your body a great reason to maintain it’s muscle mass.
One big mistake that people make when they start dieting is a switch in workout routines.
Instead of continuing to squat heavy week after week, you’ll lessen the weight and go light… such a mistake!
Keep up with whatever you were doing before you decided to diet. If you change things up and start pushing lighter weight, you risk losing the progress you made.
I made this mistake many times. I would get my bench press numbers to the highest they’ve ever been, and then lessen the weight considerably when I would diet.
Not only did I lose strength, but it would take me several weeks to get back to where I was before.
Nowadays, I keep my workout routines the same whether I’m dieting or not. Sure, I might not gain much strength in my overhead shoulder press while I’m dieting, but I’m at least pushing my body hard. This encourages my muscle mass to remain throughout the cut.
4. Eat More Protein
You can’t maintain muscle if you’re not eating enough protein. That’s just the simple truth. Protein repairs your muscles after a workout and keeps them fresh.
As long as you’re getting enough protein in your system every single day, you’ll drastically reduce the amount of muscle mass you lose while you diet.
Yes, you’ll still lose a little bit of muscle, but only a very small amount as long as you’re lifting and eating enough protein.
How much protein you say?
Well, it really depends on how intense your workouts are. Generally speaking, as long as you’re eating your lean body weight in grams per day you should be fine.
For example, I weight around 155 pounds as of this writing. As long as I get at least 140 grams of protein per day I’m good to go. I don’t notice much muscle loss, if any at all.
Most people in America drastically undereat when it comes to protein. They’re filling up on carbs and fats instead. As a result, they have these flabby skinny-fat bodies with hardly any muscle mass.
As a result, dieting seems like an endless process. You keep losing weight, but it feels like you’re still way overweight because there’s simply no muscle mass to show for it.
Therefore, be sure you’re eating enough protein and lifting weights during your diet. But, don’t diet for too long if you don’t have much muscle. It’s better to build muscle than to burn fat in my opinion.
Lose enough fat so you’re sort of skinny, but not rail thin. Then, commit to 12 months of lean bulking. Focus on building muscle.