When we drop into a caloric deficit with the intention of losing fat. Our body goes in to a “catabolic” state. Now this simply means “breaking down.” Whether this breaking down is of lean muscle tissue , body fat or a combination of both is up for debate. It’s safe to say we want to be dropping body fat and retaining our lean muscle tissue to present a physique at the end of the process.
Below are a few points you MUST consider if you want to lose body fat and retain muscle tissue on your fat loss journey.
1 – Be cool with the amount of muscle tissue you already had on your frame. I have many guys come to me that have never really lifted weights (at least not consistently and with any real intensity or focus on progressive overload.)They often show me pictures of their favorite fitness model they want to look like. It is important to remember that if you have not really added any muscle tissue to your frame over the years, losing body fat can only reveal what’s already there. So comparing yourself to a 230 lbs lean Dwayne Johnson isn’t really good to serve your mindset well!
Once you get lean enough you can focus on growth as a priority rather than trying to do both at once which is a challenging and painfully slow process.
2- Do not sacrifice your protein intake for other macro nutrients! I see many guys “flexible dieting” (which is fine done correctly) but factoring 900 calories of Ben and Jerry’s into your daily calories at the expense of your protein intake which gives you the vital amino acids you need to retain and grow lean tissue isn’t going to serve you well!
3 – Don’t train like a fairy in the gym ! If you’re not getting strong your muscle won’t last long! The way you train is a VITAL component to building/retaining lean tissue. If you are going into the gym and lifting the same weights every session and making no progress there is going to be no new adaption needed and as a result you certainly won’t be building muscle and are at risk of losing it throughout your dieting phase.
4- Don’t chase big weight drops! I use the 1% of body weight rule. If you are dropping about this weekly it is a nice steady rate to have much more chance of retaining lean tissue on your journey. Some weeks you may be even stall on weight loss but you can continue to see measurements drop and visual changes to your physique.
It is VERY common when the body has been depleted over the time you have been dieting for your muscles to not look as “full” and as a result you can get comments such as you are looking “too skinny” or “you’re taking to too far now.”
But in short the leaner you get, the more this will become an issue. If you are addressing the above you can be rest assured your tissue retention is optimal and once you give your body a good feed again you will look much fuller in your muscle tissue with much lower levels of body fat.