Weight loss: how to maintain the most muscle mass when dieting
Losing weight means there will inevitably be some muscle lost
It's a headache that anyone training to get trim will encounter. When you work so hard to build muscle mass, risking some of it for the sake of dropping a couple of waist sizes can be frustrating.
But it's not all bad news. To retain the maximum amount of muscle mass when dieting, there are a couple of key rules you should stick to.
1. Keep eating protein
Losing weight demands you consume fewer calories than what you would normally. This may involve cutting out entire meals, or at least reducing the portion size of your food.
This doesn't mean you need to cut down excessively on protein. Protein is the most thermogenic food group - meaning your body burns more calories digesting this kind of food than it does carbs and fat.
The amino acids which make up protein are also responsible for building and repairing muscle mass, and can protect it from being lost when you're getting lean.
2. Don't cut too many calories out
Getting leaner means you'll need to cut down on the amount of calories you consume. But that doesn't mean you should go into starvation mode eating barely anything.
For sustainable fat loss, don't go too drastic. Try to consume just 10-20% fewer calories when dieting.
As an example, if you need 2000 calories to maintain your weight, going just 100-200 calories lower will be enough to burn fat without compromising too much muscle tissue.
If you're looking to lose weight for a holiday or special occasion, it's always best to start earlier. The later you begin dieting, the more radical you'll have to be. Start too late and you'll have to cut a huge number of calories out which will take too much muscle tissue with it.
3. Stick to strength training
One of the biggest mistakes people make when looking to lose weight is doing excessive cardio. Not only is slogging it out on the treadmill incredibly boring, too much cardio see muscle mass being used for energy.
Who wants to sacrifice their hard-earned muscle gain?
Weight training is incredibly protective of muscle tissue, especially when you're in a calorie deficit looking to shed the pounds.
Strength may subside a little when you're holding back on food, but if you focus your bigger meals around the time you train this can limit the damage.
Read more from JOE:
- Squat more with these three tips from a top powerlifter
- Genetics: use this training checklist to build up a lagging muscle group
- Modern running shoes have left humans with 'weak feet', claims new documentary
- Fit enough for CrossFit? These are the strength standards you need to surpass
- How often should you change your workout routine?