Truthfully I can’t blame a lot of people for it because a lot of people don’t know how to count calories accurately.
Let me break this down for you as simply as I possibly can.
If you are not,
using a food scale
Weighing ALL of your food out in grams on a food scale (not cups, ounces, or tablespoons)
Doing this for every food item you consume
Then you are not counting calories, you are guessing your calories.
You are guessing your portion sizes, you are guessing how many calories you are eating, and you actually have no clue how many calories you are eating.
I am not saying this to razz you or get you even more upset, I am saying this because I want you to win and see results.
You cannot say you are counting calories if you are not doing the three things I just said above.
Why? Because you randomly looking at a piece of chicken and arbitrarily deciding it is about 4ounces is not good enough.
You have no clue how many ounces or calories it is. You are guessing.
If you are guessing on how many grams of strawberries you ate or not tracking the 4 bites of goldfish you had off of your kids plate isn’t tracking calories. It is guessing.
Why is this an issue? Isn’t it “close enough”?
No, it is not.
I wrote and entire article here that lays out how most people could be missing anywhere from 500-2000 calories per day by “guessing” on their portion sizes.
Point being, you think you are eating 1400 calories and you are getting so frustrated you are not losing weight.
When in reality if you are being honest with yourself, you have no clue how many calories you are eating. That is why you are not seeing results.
Because remember if you were in a calorie deficit you would be losing weight, as that is the only way to lose weight.
Now, to answer some questions I know you may have.
Why Do I Have To Use Grams and Not Ounces or Cups Or Tablespoons?
Cups, ounces, and tablespoons measure the volume of something.
You are not measuring the volume of a chicken breast or rice, you are measuring the weight.
The unit of measurement of weight is grams. Therefore, you need to be weighing your food in grams on your food scale.
I did an entire in depth video on exactly how to count calories for free on my YouTube channel. This is the same video I send to my 1:1 online coaching clients so I am not holding anything back from you.
I will link that HERE if you want to learn how to accurately count calories so you can start seeing the results you want.
Do I Have To Use A Food Scale Forever?!
No, you don’t. I don’t expect you to nor do I expect any of my clients to.
But I will say this. For a short period of time, say 30, 60, 90 days, yes you should be using a food scale 100% during that time period.
Why? Because right now you do not know how many calories a food has. You are guessing because you don’t know.
That is why you are in this position you are in right now.
To learn and get educated so you will be in a better position to guesstimate later down the road, you first have to put in the work upfront of learning.
The work is using your food scale for a short period of time. No if and’s or but’s about it.
Now you don’t have to by all means. I get sometimes it can be a pain or it can be tedious.
But if you are reading this article I think you want to see results.
I tell my clients all the time. Put in that extra inch of effort ( taking 5-10 min a day to use your food scale ) to see the extra miles of results ( reaching your goal body weight ).
Okay But How Many Calories Should I Eat To Lose Weight?!
Great question. I am so glad you asked!
If you want, I can gift a free calorie calculator to you (see, I am not all that bad!!).
I will link it HERE if you want to know how many calories you should eat to lose weight.
#2 Not Counting Bites & Snacks & Oils
To piggy back off of the last point we just made, this one pops up time and time again.
Let me make this clear once again.
Those 6 goldfish you stole off of your kids plate, that has calories.
The 3 bites you had of your spouses sandwich, that has calories.
The olive oil you cook with has 120 calories per serving.
All of these have calories and they all count towards your daily calorie intake.
Many people think that oh because it is so small it isn’t that big of a deal!
Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.
If you have 40 calories from the goldfish, then 70 calories from the few bites of sandwich, then 240 calories from olive oil that you used 2x that day.
That is 350 calories just in that one day alone. Not to mention if that is happening everyday over the course of a week.
Therefore if you swear up and down you are eating 1300 calories, in reality you are eating closer to 1650-1700 calories.
Hence, once more, you would not actually be in a calorie deficit.
You may not think the bites and snacks throughout the day add up, but they do.
You also may not even be doing this intentionally! It is easy to get consumed with work, kids, always running around 24/7 and you become mindless.
Therefore I would challenge you to really audit your tracking and be honest with yourself.
What I do with my online coaching clients is I make them snap a picture of every single thing that goes into their mouth for 3 days straight.
I don’t care if it’s an ice cube, I want a picture.
This way it forces you to be mindful and work towards tracking everything in it’s entirety, getting you closer to your goals.
#3 Not Being Consistent Enough
This one can really open your eyes.
If you would bet your life savings you are in a calorie deficit but not losing weight this story is for you.
I had a conversation with a very kind lady in my instagram dm’s not too long ago.
She was essentially telling me she was beyond confused and frustrated as to why she was not seeing results.
She was eating 1500 calories every single day like she was supposed to but not losing weight! What gives?!
So I asked her this simple question.
“Do me a favor. Go back and look at your last 31 days. How many days did you hit or stay under your calorie goal, and how many days did you exceed your calorie goal or simply not track calories that day?”.
Her response was she hit her calories 14 days and did not hit or did not track calories 17 days.
I then proceeded to ask
“Perfect, that would be 45% consistency with hitting your calories. Do you think that is good enough to see results?”.
She was shocked. She would have bet her entire life savings she was 100% consistent over that time span.
Yet when she went back and looked she was only 45% consistent, which is clearly not consistent enough to produce results not just with calorie counting but with anything in life.
I urge you right now to be honest with yourself and go back and look at your last 31 days. Do the same thing I just did here above.
If you are anything less than 85% consistent, then you have no reason to be upset or confused at your progress or lack there of.
You simply just are not being consistent enough to see results.
Again, this may not even be intentional. Oftentimes when people get into a “dieting” mindset they would swear they are being so consistent!
Yet when you actually go back and look at it you can see the facts.
If you want to see results, you need at least 85-90% consistent over a months span.
Anything less than that simply will not cut it.
A great way you can do this is get something called a consistency calendar.
My pal and mentor Jordan Syatt came up with this a while ago and it works wonders.
Get a calendar. Yes a physical calendar.
For everyday you hit your calories, give yourself a red X.
For everyday you do not hit your calories, give yourself a black O.
This way day by day you can have your visual of your consistency and can track it.
Remember what get’s tracked gets improved upon. If you start tracking your consistency, I can guarantee you will become more consistent.
#4 Not Being Patient Enough
This one I know you struggle with if you swear you are in a calorie deficit but not losing weight.
Notice how in the previous section above I asked that woman how consistent she had been in the last 31 days.
Not 3 days, not 3 hours. 31 days.
You have been in a calorie deficit for 48 hrs and expect to see drastic change.
It is not going to work like that, I am sorry.
This sh*t takes time.
I know you may be used to the fad diets and the advertisements claiming you can lose 10lbs in a week but that is simply not realistic.
You need to go into this journey with realistic expectations upfront. I promise it is going to make things much more enjoyable for you.
Remember that losing anywhere from .5-1lb per week on average would be considered tremendous, healthy progress.
That means in a months span if you lost 2-4 lbs, you are crushing it.
Don’t fall for the gimmick lose weight quick schemes. That is probably what got you here right now.
The quicker you lose it the quicker you put it back on.
The hard part for you or anyone is usually not losing the weight. You can normally lose the weight by cutting out carbs or sugar. By only drinking smoothies or doing detox cleanses.
But the weight never stays off. Why?
Because what you are doing to lose the wight is not sustainable, therefore the results will not be sustainable either.
Take your time. Do things the right way and this time around it will be the last time you have to “diet” ever again.
In A Calorie Deficit But Not Losing Weight : Bonus Disclaimer
Losing Fat & Gaining Muscle
So, let’s say you are of the .01% of people who is doing everything right of what I said above.
You are counting calories accurately, you are being consistent enough, the whole 9.
You actually could be in a calorie deficit and not losing weight. Here is why.
Let’s also assume you have recently started a strength training routine because you know it is optimal for losing body fat and building the body you want. (You did know that, right?!).
Here is what could be happening for you.
If you are a beginner and have recently started working out you could absolutely be building some lean muscle mass.
If you are also in a calorie deficit, you absolutely could and are losing body fat.
Let’s say you gain 3 lbs of muscle in a month. 2lbs on your glutes and 1 lb on your shoulder.
Let’s say you lose 3lbs of fat from your stomach in a month.
Remember muscle weighs the same as fat. (It does not weigh more than fat, idk where that came from but that is inaccurate).
Therefore if you lost 3lbs of fat, but gained 3lbs of muscle, the scale wouldn’t change.
It would remain the exact same.
But, your body would look different and your measurements would be down.
This is why you need to be taking more than just your weight. Your weight is by far the worst indicator of fat loss progress.
For so many reasons, but mainly because it fluctuates a ton and it won’t show muscle gain progress like measurements or pictures would.
Not to say you don’t weigh yourself, you can and should weigh yourself.
In fact my clients weigh in everyday so we can get all of the data points for the entire month and notice trends.
But you should also be taking measurements every 2 weeks and progress pictures every 4 weeks.
This way you can know even if you wight didn’t go down, but your measurements did and your progress pictures look different, you are losing fat.
In A Calorie Deficit But Not Losing Weight : Final Word
There you have it. The top 5 reasons as to why you might be in a calorie deficit but not losing weight.
Or so you thought you were in a calorie deficit at least.
I challenge you to really audit yourself and be incredibly honest and objective with what is going on in your journey.
The more honest and objective you can be, the more results you will see. ( Hey, that rhymed! ).
If you have any questions feel free to drop them below or if you know someone who needs to read this, feel free to send it on over to them.
If you are interested in joining My Clubhouse where you can get all of my latest training programs and dietary guidelines, you can head HERE to check that out.
How to lose fat without losing muscle is the question that plagues every dieter.
Well, every dieter that truly cares about their appearance in the mirror.
If you are even reading this right now you don’t just care about a number on the scale.
Yes of course that plays a role, but you care more about how you look in the mirror.
You want that lean, defined, atheistic physique where you can take your shirt off or wear a two piece bathing suit with confidence.
Well, in this quick article you are going to learn everything you need to learn on how to lose fat without losing muscle.
There are going to be a few different topics we discuss and a few strategies you are going to have to follow.
Therefore I need to you to read each section in it’s entirety. No skipping around or you could miss some very crucial information.
I will give you the blueprint, you just have to follow it.
Deal? I figured so. Let’s do this then.
How To Lose Fat Without Losing Muscle
Why You Don’t Want To Lose Muscle
Before we dive right in on how to lose fat without losing muscle, let’s first talk about why you don’t want to lose muscle.
The first reason is going to be something that most people often debate about on ends and that is your metabolism.
Keep Metabolism High
When you go into a calorie deficit in order to lose body fat (which by the way is the only way to lose fat), your metabolism is going to slow down.
When you start intaking less calories than what your body is expending on a day to day basis, your body starts to expend less calories.
This is called metabolic adaptation. A lot of fitness influencers will use this term to scare you and make you think you are going to ruin your metabolism!
This is simply not true. I did an entire video on what happens with metabolic adaptation and why you shouldn’t be that afraid of it, I can link that HERE if you want to give it a watch.
Yet the fact still is true, when you go into a calorie deficit, your metabolism slows down.
Here is the good news. The more lean muscle mass you have on your body the higher your metabolism is going to stay.
Lean muscle mass requires more oxygen to get pumped to it. More oxygen pumped means more work your body has to do.
The more wok your body has to do equals more calories burned. Thus, more calories burned equals a higher metabolism.
A higher metabolism is going to make it easier for you to drop body fat. As well as make it so you don’t have to eat such low calories in order to lose fat.
Therefore if you are on a quest to drop body fat, having as much lean muscle mass as possible is going to aid in your journey tremendously.
Protein also plays a huge role in your lean muscle mass and keeping your metabolism high as well. We will touch on that more a bit later on.
When talking about how to lose fat without losing muscle, one of the biggest factors that comes into play is being “skinny fat”.
You know when you step on the scale and you really aren’t overweight.
Yet when you take your shirt off you still have somewhat of a belly or you don’t really see much definition in your arms or shoulders.
This is because you are skinny fat. You aren’t overweight by the scale terms, yet you have a low amount of lean muscle and a higher amount of body fat.
Therefore it creates this look that most people are not chasing.
This is why losing weight and losing fat are two different things. It is not just about the weight on the scale.
In fact a picture here below of one of my Clubhouse Members Tisha. These pictures are 55 days apart.
You can obviously tell that there are massive changes to her physique. Yet, the weight in all 3 of these pics were the exact same.
Yep, exact same.
This is why ensuring you do not lose lean muscle mass on your diet is critical.
You will get to the end goal and not look anywhere near the way you want to look.
Most people think they just need to lose more “weight”, not realizing that weight and fat are two different things.
Even if you get to a lower number on the scale, if you don’t have any muscle mass to show, you won’t look the way you want.
If your goal is to have that lean, defined, atheistic physique, keeping lean muscle mass should be your #1 priority.
Long Term Health
If you are reading an article on how to lose fat without losing muscle you are probably concerned with the look of your body.
Which, there is nothing wrong with that. I am a coach and I help guide people everyday to get the body they want.
Yet I would encourage you not to lose sight of the long term as well. Fitness isn’t just about sex and looking good.
One of the main reasons why you should keep lean muscle mass when you are looking to drop body fat is for various health reasons.
We already touched on keeping your metabolism high, which is a huge one.
You also want to keep your bone density high. The more lean muscle mass you have that normally means the more strength training you are doing.
The more strength training you are doing the higher your bone density is going to be. Not just for right now but when you go to 50, 60, 70, 80 years old.
Your quality of life is going to be improved drastically by ensuring you continue to strength train and keep lean muscle mass (which we will talk about soon!).
As well as protecting you from injury. Let’s say you get into a car crash god forbid.
Someone who has built up say their upper back muscles is going to have more stability and support so that if that does happen, it will either greatly reduce the injury or the recovery time from it.
Or, for example, one of the biggest causes of knee pain is weak glute muscles.
Knee pain is one of, if not the most common problem among the general population.
If you can have strong and functioning glute muscles, you automatically give yourself an advantage when it comes to avoiding knee pain.
Finally, just basic things in life that seem simple can be improved upon.
I recently had a Clubhouse member on my podcast, her name is Vicki.
Vicki is 71 years old and she talks about now that she has built muscle and kept strength training on her diet, she can now walk on the beach without having any pain in her knees.
There is so much more to this life than just looks. This is a major reason why you should keep lean muscle mass while losing body fat.
How To Lose Fat Without Losing Muscle : 3 Most Important Steps
Now that you have learned why you should not be losing muscle on your diet, here are the 3 most important steps to take when it comes to putting that into practice.
Don’t Go So Low In Calories
One of the biggest mistakes I see people making when it comes to how to lose fat without losing muscle is they are simply going too low in calories.
Here is what happens when you eat very low calories.
Most people think “well hell yea! If I can lose weight faster by eating less, why not!?”.
Again, like we talked about above, there is a difference between losing fat and losing weight.
How this works is your body is going to be in a calorie deficit. You will be losing body fat, yes.
But, you will also be losing lean muscle mass. What will happen is your body will say “Man, we are not getting anywhere near enough calories to maintain our bodily functions to keep this sucker alive. I need to pull extra energy from somewhere”.
Some of that will come from body fat, but the rest will come from lean muscle mass. Your body will burn your lean muscle mass as fuel to keep your body alive. It is basically a defense mechanism to you dying.
Muscle is not “essential” for the body therefore your body will say “welp, this lean muscle mass he / she worked so hard for?! Yep, it is time to get rid of that so I can use it as energy to survive!”.
Thus leading to loss of muscle.
This is why eating too low calories and losing weight very rapidly is not a good thing. So many people celebrate losing weight very quickly which is honestly just pure ignorance.
A healthy rate of weight loss to ensure you are not losing lean muscle mass would be anywhere from .5-1.5lb per week on average.
Once you start losing 2,3,5 lbs per week, you are pretty much guaranteed to lose lean muscle mass.
Which as we just learned is sub optimal for all of the reasons listed above.
If you want to find out how many calories you should be eating to lose body fat without losing muscle, feel free to check out my free calorie calculator HERE.
Keep Lifting Heavy Weights
The second most important thing to ensure you are keeping your lean muscle mass is continuing to lift heavy weights.
Notice the emphasis on heavy weights.
There is this notion that once you want to lose body fat you should be switching up your training to light weight for high reps to “tone” the muscle.
No, just no.
You need to keep lifting heavy and pushing yourself in order to retain your lean muscle mass. If you start to go super low weight for super high reps, you aren’t going to put the adequate stress on your body in order to keep the lean muscle mass.
You won’t be getting close enough to failure. This would lead to loss of lean muscle mass.
Training close to failure is what is the key driver for building or maintaining lean muscle mass. If you aren’t doing that, good luck keeping muscle.
This is also why you need to continue strength training if you are looking to lose fat and not just do hours of cardio.
Again, one of the biggest mistakes I see people make is they start to do hours and hours of cardio, drop their calories super low, and take out strength training.
That has skinny fat and slow metabolism written all over it.
Your training when you are looking to lose body fat should be the same training as if you were looking to gain muscle.
Strength train 3-5x per week, push yourself with the weights, and see the results you want.
If you want some extra guidance on how to create a strength training routine, you can check out my video explaining that HERE.
Keep Protein Intake High
When it comes to how to lose fat without losing muscle, protein might be the true key to the treasure chest.
First off protein is the only macro nutrient that can build or retain lean muscle mass.
Therefore let’s say even if you weren’t going super low in calories and you were strength training.
If you are eating 50g of protein per day, you will still lose lean muscle mass.
Therefore protein not only plays a role in retaining lean muscle mass, this means it also plays a role in keeping your metabolism high.
Since the more lean muscle mass you have the higher your metabolism is, protein can increase your metabolism.
Here is the even cooler part. Protein has the highest thermic effect of food.
This means your body has to burn the most calories digesting protein than if it digested carbs or fats.
Remember more calories burned = higher metabolism.
Therefore protein increases your metabolism not just through retaining muscle but through it’s thermic effort of food.
Both of these things are obviously massively beneficial for losing fat and keeping muscle.
How much protein should you be eating?
Well, great question.
Generally I would recommend around .8-1.2g of protein per lb of body weight.
So for example if someone weighs 150, I would say get around 150g of protein.
Now I know some people may weigh 250, 300 lbs who are looking to lose body fat.
If you have a high body fat % and weigh over 200lbs, what I would do is simply set a minimum target of 150g of protein.
Anything over that you are freaking killing it, but try not to go under that 150g mark.
I know protein can be tough to get sometimes, so I am going to link an article here I wrote that gives you my top 5 ways to eat more protein.
You can implement these strategies literally today to help you eat more protein.
How To Lose Fat Without Losing Muscle : Final Word
Well there it is. The complete rundown of how to lose fat without losing muscle.
I hope this guide helped you out and broke things down for you in every aspect you needed to know.
If you have any questions, feel free to drop them below!
If you are interested in having some guidance and the guesswork taken out of things for you, feel free to head HERE to check out My Clubhouse.
This is basically giving you my training and diet guidelines delivered to you monthly.
All of the guesswork is taken out of this with your training, nutrition, everything. All you have to do is put it into action.
Other than that, hope this article helped, and talk soon.
PS: If you are more a visual learner, I did a whole YouTube video on this topic as well. I will link it below.