Losing weight without muscle loss is not a matter of course. When you start losing weight, your body prefers to preserve your fats for times of need. The body would much rather reduce your muscle mass because it is energetically very precious. How do you ensure that the body will still burn your excess fat and not your muscles? Which calorie deficit is ideal for burning fat without losing muscle? And is there an optimal distribution of your macronutrients?
The yo-yo effect of crash dieting
Losing weight without muscle loss is almost impossible with a crash diet. Weight loss with a crash diet is relatively easy, which makes it attractive at first glance. Often the first few pounds fly off quickly. But unfortunately we do not take into account that this is often also a lot of muscle mass in addition to fat. Moreover, a crash diet can never be sustained for long. When you stop, you sometimes gain even more than your starting weight! How come?
- When you lose weight too quickly without taking the correct amount of macronutrients into account, you also lose muscle mass.
- Your reduced muscle mass ensures a lower calorie requirement, making weight loss increasingly difficult.
- Those who lose a lot of weight and also lose muscle mass often look “too skinny” or unhealthy.
- Due to the low calorie content and the often “extreme” way of dieting, you can never keep up with the diet for long. No one is going to only drink shakes or never eat pasta again his whole life, right?
- When you start eating “normally” again, there are fewer muscles that require energy and you will therefore store extra fat faster.
- The result? You weigh more than before and are left frustrated despite your good intentions. Crash diets are a real no-go!
Read more: Why you need protein for weight loss
8 tips for losing weight without muscle loss
1. Reduce your calories by up to 20%
An energy shortage is the most important factor in losing weight. But when you eat extremely little, you cause the above-mentioned negative reactions. Moreover, with a greater deficiency you will also feel listless and irritated. The feeling of hunger is often too great to sustain.
2. Maintain protein intake
It is important not to eat less protein. These are essential for maintaining and building muscle. If your body does not have enough protein to maintain the muscles, they will start to break down. Your body simply does not need a higher intake.
3. Maintain fat intake
It sounds logical to eat less fat, but fats are important for the production of muscle-building hormones. When you eat too little fat, your testosterone will drop and this will be at the expense of your muscle mass.
4. Reduce carbohydrate intake
Obviously we have to delete at least one of the three macronutrients. Otherwise we will not end up with a calorie deficit. The most logical choice is to cut out carbohydrates. By eating fewer carbohydrates you force your body to use more fats. And so you lose weight. Eating slightly less carbohydrates does not disturb the balance as is the case with fats. On the contrary, it is just healthy and can, for example, restore insulin sensitivity.
5. Measure your muscle mass and fat percentage
Measuring your muscle mass is the best way to see if you are not losing muscle. But watch out! Even with a healthy diet, the scale will tell you in the first week that you have lost a lot of muscle mass. Fortunately, this only seems so. What happens is that your supply of glycogen in your muscles decreases because you eat fewer carbohydrates. So you will not get a reduction in muscle fibers, but your storage tank is temporarily empty. As soon as you would eat a little more carbohydrates again, you will “fill” your muscles again.
Focus on strength training and short interval training. This type of training ensures a better hormone balance and a stimulation of protein synthesis.
Eat after your workout
Your muscles are very sensitive to the absorption of proteins and carbohydrates after a workout. A post-workout snack or meal can help maximize muscle protein synthesis. You should of course include this snack in your total energy intake.
8. Use a feeding schedule
If you take into account the above tips, burning fat without muscle loss is absolutely possible. But to put this into practice, it is advisable not to leave anything to chance. Be purposeful and use a custom diet plan to lose weight without muscle loss.