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.