We constantly listen to the phrases ” I want to lose weight ” and ” I want to gain muscle “, however, to achieve this we must really consider the idea of how to burn fat without losing muscle.
Burn fat without losing muscle is necessary to obtain a well defined and muscular body. If you want to know how to achieve it, you are in the right place, but first I want to explain some important concept.
Weight loss vs. fat loss
Weight loss is often confused with fat loss.
When we talk about weight we can be talking about many things, among them the muscle directly. What most of us look for is to burn fat without the muscle being affected.
When talking about muscle loss, we refer to the proteins that build muscle, together with glycogen, water and fat stored between the fibers of the muscle.
This is one of the reasons why we may see ourselves a little “deflated”, since water and glycogen is spent faster than fat, but these can be quickly replenished. What we must avoid is the loss of muscle protein, and to achieve this we must take into account the following aspects.
How to lose fat without losing muscle Everything you need to know!
The primary requirement, to call it one way, is to meet a moderate caloric deficit .
Surely you have heard before that to burn fat, you have to consume fewer calories, so that the body is forced to use fat stores as fuel and energy source. Let us begin!
# 1: Caloric deficit What is it? How to do it correctly?
You should not excessively reduce the number of calories.
Many people take to the extreme to consume fewer calories to lose weight, and this can end up resulting in a loss of muscle mass, strength and endurance. A very large deficit decreases protein synthesis and affects performance.
We can classify the caloric deficit into three different levels: small, moderate or large. A moderate caloric deficit , which represents approximately 20-25% below your maintenance calories is usually the most indicated in the vast majority of cases.
This level is sufficient to force the body to use fat, but it is not enough for muscle growth and recovery to be affected.
How should this deficit be created?
Through the diet, never through cardiovascular exercises. Excessive cardio interferes with the evolution of weightlifting . Performing too much cardio is counterproductive since it will not burn calories but it can also cause us to lose muscle.
A rule that can be considered adequate is to create the deficit in 80% of the diet and 20% through cardiovascular exercises. In this article I show you how to create your definition diet.
The more weight the person has, the greater this caloric deficit may be. If you compare the same caloric deficit of an overweight person with a thin person, the thinnest person will lose a higher percentage of muscle mass.
# 2: Incorporate a good amount of protein into the diet
The second essential and essential requirement, the most important when it comes to preventing muscle loss, is daily protein intake.
Studies have shown that adequate protein intake also influences satiety, so that it helps reduce calorie intake without having negative effects on muscle.
On the other hand, it plays a very important role in increasing muscle mass. But how many proteins should be consumed daily? The recommendation is to consume about 2 grams of protein per kilogram of weight .
As additional advice, overweight people may consider carrying a slightly lower protein intake. Once a more adequate level of body fat has been reached, this level of protein intake is increased.
Should we eliminate fats from our diet?
Of course not.
Fats are essential for good health. Otherwise, a hormonal imbalance may occur. What is recommended is to maintain adequate consumption, which adjusts to 25% of calories. This value is sufficient to keep anabolic processes active.
What about carbohydrates?
These are also very important in hormonal balance. They have beneficial impacts on metabolism and appetite regulation, sleep quality and testosterone production.
# 3: Avoid doing excessive cardio
The cardio exercises should be reduced (even eliminated entirely). As we have seen, the deficit must be achieved by food and not by performing more cardio.
We must maintain constant strength training , but now we will touch this point in greater detail.
In case your metabolism is slower and you see that it is costing you a lot to lose fat, you can add some light cardio to the training program. For example, go jogging at a moderate-low pace for about 30 minutes.
With the aforementioned I do not mean that doing cardio is bad for health, it is actually highly recommended to eliminate body fat safely, however what we are looking for is to lose fat without losing muscle and cardio can compromise our muscle volume.
# 4: Maintain training intensity and reduce volume and / or frequency
To maintain muscle while burning fat, strength training is necessary . You can also use fitness trackers to track your health.
Following the parameters outlined above, having a caloric deficit will be difficult for the body to achieve a progressive increase in intensity and volume in training. Therefore, you should focus on maintaining or trying to increase the intensity (weights) even if you have to reduce the volume or frequency of training .
A routine that fits what you are looking for and that allows a good training and maintenance of strength, is to train by muscle groups three days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Muscle groups can be divided as follows: shoulders and legs, back and biceps, chest and triceps. For each day, an exercise routine is proposed, with repetitions ranging from 3 -6 repetitions.
# 5: Strength routine based on compound exercises
Focus on performing compound exercises that allow you to move a lot of weight . These exercises are squats, deadlifts, bench press, running on a treadmill, military press or rowing.
It is a multi-articular movement that involves several muscle groups and allows you to train with large loads, ideal for strength training.
You can do some isolation exercise after performing the compound exercises to finish working on a muscle that interests you, but remember that compound exercises should be the basis of your strength training routine.
# 6: Implement carbohydrate cycling
Carbohydrate cycling can be a solution to this process in which two aspects such as caloric deficit and weight training are combined , to try to optimize the results.
In short, it refers to eating a few days a greater amount of calories, and others a smaller amount. We must benefit from the days with the highest amount of calories to exercise and train, and the low-calorie days for rest.
This method will allow you to maintain muscle mass and strength, while gradually losing fat.
# 7: Use refeeds or feedback
It is basically a muscle glycogen recharge in which it seeks to counteract some of these metabolic adaptations. With this “refeed” we increase leptin levels, which are reduced as body fat is lost
A “refeed” is an expected increase in calories and carbohydrates . It can be related to or alternated with carbohydrate cycling, or if cycling does not get your attention, this refeed is a good alternative.
Ideally, schedule it once a week, on one of the training days. That day calorie consumption will increase by 30%, from carbohydrates.
How important can this feedback day be?
I will answer this question simply:
It helps increase metabolism
Participate in improving performance in physical activity
The thinner you are, the more important this day becomes, that is, lose some importance in people with a greater body weight
# 8: Think of a good pre and post training
Many times less importance is usually given to pre and post training when talking about losing body fat, if we compare it with the enormous importance we usually give when we talk about muscle growth. However it is a very wrong thought.
Although recovery, endurance, volume and performance may be affected by caloric deficit, pre and post training nutrition is essential to reinforce all these aspects.
Meals consumed before and after workouts are vitally important to achieve your goal. You can also assess the possibility of including some type of supplement in your pre or post training, such as creatine or the typical protein powder .
# 9: Do not hesitate to take breaks if necessary
It may be the case that you get tired of eating a hypocaloric diet for long periods of time.
Therefore, you can think about taking a break in the diet . For example, just leave the diet for a week, then resume the diet. This break brings many physical and psychological benefits, increases body recovery and overall functioning.
Obviously, if you go out of the diet for a short period of time, increase your calorie intake by increasing carbohydrates, but keep eating a healthy diet, rich in protein and without exceeding your caloric intake too much.
To say goodbye to fat without losing muscle, it all translates into a calorie deficit, the right protein intake and strength training with the proper frequency.
To this whole process you can add some supplements, but the previous 9 steps are essential to achieve it, and they will be responsible for the vast majority of the results.