How To Lose Fat – Not Muscle
Losing fat without losing muscle is a tricky proposition – one that most fail at miserably. If you don’t know what you’re doing, weight loss will almost always lead to muscle loss. If you’ve found this article, chances are high that you know of the negative effects of muscle loss. Just in case you don’t, here are a few things that happen when you lose muscle:
- Strength and energy loss
- Lower metabolic rate
- Increase of fat gaining potential
- Lower ability to burn and metabolize fat effectively
- Increase in appetite
Since most people who lose weight also lose significant amounts of muscle in the process, weight loss takes them farther away from their goal of having a healthy, lean body. If you want to have a healthy body that is low in body fat, you need to preserve every precious ounce of muscle, in fact 99% of you would be a lot better off if you gained some.
This lesson will teach you how to preserve your muscle while losing fat. Most of you will be able to actually gain a little muscle while losing the fat.
Key #1 – Avoid Eating A Meal That Will Make You Gain Fat
This concept is a little bit weird so please hear me out. You can easily burn fat through working out, in fact you burn fat by simply walking around your house. In other words, your body is already using your fat stores for energy. The problem is that eating the wrong foods will result in replacing that fat as quickly as you’re losing it.
For this reason, the first key of losing fat is to not replace the fat that your body is ALREADY using. If you can do that, you will find that getting the fat off is a pretty simple process – your body is already used to using your fat stores.
The foods that are most likely to result in a fat gain are these:
- Snack foods (potato chips – even baked chips, crackers, etc.)
- Candy (chocolate bars, fruity candies, etc.)
- Sweetened beverages (soda, fruit juices, etc.)
- Refined grains (white rice, pasta, white bread, white tortilla, etc.)
- Whole grains in large quantities
If you’re serious about losing fat, please accept that you need to stay away from these foods. If you are having strong cravings, you should take a look at the following lesson: Why Am I Always Hungry?
Don’t accept that you couldn’t possibly stay away from snack foods. You can learn how to not WANT to eat them anymore. Hopefully I can help you with that.
As long as you stay away from the foods that make you gain fat, you will easily be able to take fat off your frame without sacrificing muscle.
Key #2 – Eating High Quality Foods
Your body can’t survive without food and is extremely efficient at making you eat. If your body feels that it isn’t getting the nutrients you need, it will make you want to EAT. If you don’t eat enough, your body will make you want to EAT. You may feel for a while that you can resist your appetite but this way of thinking isn’t a long term formula for success. Eventually you will fail and give in because your body is extremely powerful in this area. You must learn to align yourself with your body’s interests to be able to sustain fat loss without sacrificing muscle.
The interesting thing is that you can lose fat without being hungry all the time if you’re giving your body enough food and nutrients. I personally missed out on this one for years. Whenever I would lose weight, I would be starving and eventually I would give in to my hunger. I would usually gain a lot of weight when this happened.
The biggest thing I was missing when this happened to me was that I wasn’t eating enough healthy fat. I hadn’t figured out that my body really needed it yet. I can tell you that after I started adding healthy fats to all of my meals, my appetite hit rock bottom. I started wanting less and less food and felt full like never before. Lesson learned – you can’t keep healthy foods from your body and expect to lose fat.
Now that I add healthy fats to each and every meal I eat, my body lets go of fat like it’s nothing. Crazy right?!
Key #3 – Get Strong
For a while there, I didn’t understand that strength = muscle. Now that I write it out, it sounds utterly ridiculous that I didn’t understand this concept.
If you want to preserve muscle, you need to focus on getting STRONG. You should be trying to improve the amount of weight you can lift, and you should be keeping track. If you can bench 135, you should be trying to get to 150. If you can squat 175, you should be trying to get to 200. If you can improve your strength you will be maintaining or gaining muscle while losing fat. If you don’t focus on getting strong, chances are high that you will lose muscle as you lose weight.
Focusing on getting strong has quite a few key benefits on top of simply getting larger and more developed muscles. Your body will need to shift more resources (food) into your muscles in order to help them to grow. This means that less of those resources will be left in your bloodstream, where they would eventually end up as fat deposits.
In order to get strong, you have to lift WEIGHT. ‘Lifting light’ isn’t going to cut it if you want to add strength. I once did a six month test where I lifted basically the same amount of weight for all of my workouts. To my surprise, I ended up weaker after the experiment even though I was lifting for six months straight. This happened because I wasn’t lifting heavier and heavier weights. My body got ‘bored’ and didn’t feel the need to produce more muscle. In order to preserve muscle, you have to focus on muscle growth. Muscle growth relies on lifting heavier and heavier weights.
For me it has helped a lot to make a spreadsheet where I track my strength. This might sound a little extreme (especially for women) but I can promise you that it works. My spreadsheets help me to more easily set goals for strength and that has resulted in larger amounts of muscle and lower amounts of body fat.
Key #4 – Move And Recover
Losing weight is easy if you’re willing to move – it’s easy to shed pounds if you’re willing to run without overeating. However, when I learned how to lose fat without losing muscle, the story got more complicated. I figured out that recovery was a huge part of the puzzle. If you don’t give your muscles time to rebuild, they will inevitably shrink. They need to recover and they probably need to recover for a lot longer period of time than you think.
I have found that my muscles recover and grow more effectively if I don’t work out every day. This realization caused some panic early on because I honestly thought I needed daily workouts to prevent fat gain. Fortunately the experiment proved that I was able to make my muscles grow more effectively without causing my body to store fat. What a revelation!
In retrospect I can see that I was trying way too hard to keep my body small and this was making me sacrifice a lot of muscle. I was too focused on my weight and wasn’t focused enough on my body composition. Once I allowed my lean body to grow, it made it a lot easier for my ‘fat body’ to shrink. I now look smaller and leaner, even though I actually weigh more than I thought my ‘ideal weight’ was.
I now lift heavy weights, three times a week. My typical workout lasts only 30-45 minutes. This is a huge contrast from the old me who worked out six days a week for around two hours per day. You would think that I would gain fat with this change but the opposite has been true. My muscle has become more developed and that has resulted in lower amounts of body fat.
- How to Lose Weight and Build Muscle at Home
- How To Lose Belly Fat
- How To Lose Fat Fast
- My Story Of Getting Fat, Yo-Yoing, Exhaustion, Mistakes, And Eventual Victory Over Fat
- At Home Workout #4 – Fat Melting Sprint Squats
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