How do you avoid muscle loss when dieting?

It’s everyones dream (particularly my one) to avoid as much muscle loss when dieting. Whilst I always advocate to pick one thing to focus on first (either losing body fat, or putting on muscle mass) it’s very challenging not to want the benefits of both. I am going to base my answers for you considering what I’ve done, and what has worked the best for me. Since I’m a female, I think you will do very well with trying out some of these tactics and seeing what it can do for you.

5 things that can stop you from building mass when shredding.

  1. Cardio that is prolonged and exhausting. That means, long runs, jogs or even very strenuous outdoor sessions that are over an hour long. This can kill your gains, without you even noticing it. Muscle mass may be used as an energy source, given that you are restricting calories over long periods of time. The body will try to hold onto any fat reserves in order to survive what it proclaimed to be ‘famine’ state. This is why I do not recommend restricted caloric intake, as the body will become caught in this vicious cycle of burning muscle mass for fuel. Excessive cardio will magnify this. If you must do cardio (because you like it and it is good for your health as well as your wellbeing), then opt for HIIT for no longer than 20 minutes at a time, 1–2 times per week, or regularly walk, breaking up the duration during the day, so as not to increase cortisol levels within the body. If you need to rest, then listen to your body and do so. You have have the best of both worlds here, but you do need to pay very close attention to your body on a daily basis.
  2. Not eating enough high quality protein during your meals. By high quality, I am referring to chicken breast, eggs, turkey, lean meats and seafood. Protein is a must for maintaining muscle mass and increasing protein synthesis. It’s a good idea to eat above your reserved rate – or slowly increasing it incrementally, so as not to increase body fat. If you are unable to have a protein filled meal, then opt for a protein shake or whey protein. It’s not the most ideal alternative, but it is a good strategy if you cannot consume your requirement during a given time. If you are lifting heavy weight, and want to keep your muscle mass intact, then this should be one of your most primary macronutrient goal.
  3. Keep lifting heavy – and fail. Building and maintaining muscle mass requires you to lift heavy in the gym, and even aim for failing. You want to give your muscles as much intense lifting as possible – and that coupled with an increased protein per kg ratio, will give you the perfect environment for maintaining your muscle mass. The great news is, you will even have the most ideal set up for increasing muscle! And we all know that when muscle mass goes up, our metabolism shoots through the roof. So lift heavy, despite how lethargic you may be feeling – even if you only get a few reps in at a time. Just do it, and keep at it. Fail in order to grow (with proper form of course!).
  4. Just as you schedule in your weights sessions, you must prioritise full day rest periods. So many people do not allow the time and space for muscle recovery, and just recovery in general. Few people have the lifestyle that allows them to nap during the day, as most of us are working to make a living. Keep your lifestyle in mind when you train and schedule rest periods. Stress (cortisol) will prevent you from building muscle and losing body fat. You don’t want to work hard in the gym, only to become stuck in this situation.
    Aim for 2x rest periods per week. This doesn’t mean you should just sit around and do nothing. Still go about your daily life, and be active – but not to the point of exhaustion. If you work out in the morning, enjoy the sleep in – a peaceful and relaxed morning. If you train in the evening, enjoy a leisurely afternoon walk with your dog.
  5. Intermittent fasting – It could absolutely skyrocket your fat loss and muscle gains. I know a lot of people are probably going to snub this one, but for me, I’ve found it to be an absolute fundamental process for both my weight-loss and muscle building goals. For weight loss, I’m controlling my levels of insulin by fasting – allowing my body to tap into fat reserves for energy. For muscle building, I’m prolonging my feeding in order to activate HGH. This is key to not only increasing my muscle mass, but also my fat burning potential on a daily basis. Once you start fasting for a while, your body will automatically know how to use the limited nutrients you have. There are countless studies to prove this, but there are also a lot of studies that prove muscle mass can be lost as well. This is a give and take with any dietary plan, but the only way to prevent muscle loss is to always ensure you are eating enough protein when it’s feasting time. This could mean you decrease your fasting period a few days a week. (Remember, that protein is recycled by the body, so don’t stress about this too much). The choices are endless with fasting, and it all really depends on your goals. Find what is suitable for you, and use it to it’s full potential. I have not had results this profound with any other dietary program. It’s easy, sustainable and flexible – plus I don’t have to spend endless time in the kitchen cooking and prepping meals. Time is so precious – spend it doing the things you love.

I hope this has helped you get a few more ideas on how you can preserve your muscle mass whilst dieting. If you would like to keep in touch during your journey, please do contact me on these various platforms if you need further assistance. I have plenty of other material on my blog or join me on facebook and instagram account. Please feel free to upvote this answer.

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