Many athletes have two goals. On the one hand, they naturally want to build muscle mass – because nothing is as satisfying as huge biceps. On the other hand, they also want to lose fat. You can’t see those abdominal muscles when there is still a soft layer of fat over it. The problem? These two goals are a bit problematic for each other. Those who lose fat often lose muscle mass automatically. In this article, you will discover some practical tips for fat loss with obtaining as much muscle mass as possible.
A Calorie Deficit for Fat Loss
An important point to start with is to clarify the difference between fat loss and weight loss. Many people say that they want to lose weight. However, that is a pretty meaningless statement. Losing weight has little to do with losing fat: you can also lose weight by losing muscle, for example.
What is more, muscles are heavier than fat. So you can become visibly slimmer, without actually noticing the difference on the scale.
So, this story concludes that you shouldn’t be desperately looking for weight loss itself.
A Calorie Deficit for Fat Loss
There is only one way for successful fat loss: a constant calorie deficit. Your body must then look for other energy sources and get energy from fat reserves. The disadvantage of this is that fat is not the only potential energy supplier. Muscle mass can also fulfill that role.
In other words: if you only manage a calorie deficit, you can also lose a lot of muscle mass, and that probably isn’t what you are waiting for! Fortunately, there are ways to still retain as much muscle mass as possible. This way you can lose fat without losing that sporty appearance immediately.
Fat Loss Tips
#1. Eat More Proteins
The most important advice to know is that you need all the macronutrients to create a balanced diet. Proteins are clearly number 1 when you want to keep enough muscle mass. The reason is straightforward: to maintain muscle, you need a proper building material for them. And those are amino acids, which you extract from proteins.
Research shows that sufficient protein in your diet provides significantly more muscle retention, even if in the meantime you would not train. So make sure you do not save on protein when creating a calorie deficit. Remember, 1.8 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is a good guideline. Eat less fat and carbohydrates instead. There are various bodybuilding supplements and energy pills on the market so you can support your diet with some delicious whey protein!
#2. Continue to Train ‘Heavily’
According to experts at BroScience, Keep training heavy. That way you give your muscles the stimulus that you really need them. Your body will then do its best to preserve as much muscle mass as possible.
#3. Reduce the Training Volume
But, you may think now, you have a lot less energy with a caloric deficit. Can your body handle that, such a heavy workout? And that’s a good thing: not only the training but also the recovery costs you a lot of energy. If you don’t actually have one, it will become dangerous – after all, you do not want your recovery to go wrong.
The solution is to reduce the volume of your training. Keep the weight the same size, but reduce the number of repetitions, sets or exercises that you do in total. So you limit the muscle damage and the ‘recovery effort’, without making the load lighter.
#4. Do not Eat too Few Calories
Of course, fat loss requires a calorie deficit; otherwise, your body never needs to light on those fat reserves. However, it isn’t true that a higher deficit is necessarily better. Resist the temptation to create a huge deficit to see results faster. Your body then has no choice but to use your muscles as a source of energy.
Moreover, muscle recovery after training is virtually impossible if you just eat too little. So you will probably end up with colossal power drops. A good caloric deficit consists of about 10 to 20% of your daily energy requirement.
#5. Forget the Cardio
Cardio is often seen as the sports method to lose fat because you indeed burn calories with it. Certainly, if you want to preserve muscle tissue, you can better ignore long-term cardio sessions. First of all, you usually do not have to burn extra calories if your diet is in order. In fact, less energy can actually put your muscle recovery in trouble.
Besides, cardio does nothing to keep your muscles stronger. In contrast to strength training, it just doesn’t provide any incentive for strength retention. Do you still want to combine strength training and cardio? Take a look at High-Intensity Interval Training!
#6. Give Yourself a Break
A final tip for fat loss: break up your diet once in a while. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you have to go away for a week with pizza and fries – keep it a bit reasonable. It is not the intention that your break cancels out all your progress, after all. However, eating a week on your actual energy needs, without a shortage, can do wonders for both body and mind.
Your body gets the signal again that there is enough food available to maintain muscles. Any breakdown can immediately be rebuilt. And you can recover from the quite exhausting diet regime. For some people, however, it also works to introduce shorter breaks, such as the occasional cheat day. See what feels best for you!