Have you had issues with successfully dieting to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time? Well, it may be due to a few common dieting mistakes that I see people make, which affects their ability to not only lose fat and build muscle (body recomposition) but also keep muscle when dieting in the first place.
One of the top dieting mistakes people make is actually losing weight too aggressively. Because when it comes to how to maintain muscle while cutting and even building muscle while losing fat, you need to supply your body with enough energy and nutrients to do so. For example, a well-known 2011 paper found that the group of subjects placed on a ‘fast diet’ (ate 300 fewer calories daily) lost significantly less fat than the slow group, and they also lost a little bit of muscle mass as well. On the other hand, the slow group was actually able to gain a little bit of muscle, gained significantly more strength, and lost a more significant amount of fat as well. So what I’d suggest is to aim to lose around 0.5-1% of your body weight per week, but this does depend on your current level of body fat.
The second dieting mistake most people make when wanting to keep or build muscle and lose fat is simply doing too much too soon at the start of the diet. But this approach actually prevents you from having any leverage when you reach a fat loss plateau. When you start dieting and put your body in a calorie deficit, over time, your body compensates by decreasing its metabolism to burn fewer calories. Which eventually leaves you stuck in a fat loss plateau since your metabolism has reduced to the point where you’re no longer in a calorie deficit to lose fat. But the problem is, if you’re already starving yourself and doing a ton of cardio, you’re unable to push further to break through this plateau.
So instead, for optimal body recomposition, you want to first start at a small to moderate calorie deficit of roughly 10-20% or 500 calories below your maintenance, for example. And you also want to start with minimal cardio, so for instance 1-2 low-intensity sessions per week. Then, as the weeks go by and your weight and fat loss begins to stagnate, you can simply drop your calories further and/or increase your cardio slightly as needed to break through these plateaus every time you reach them.
The last mistake when it comes to a diet to how to lose fat without losing muscle is not taking breaks with your calorie deficit. The longer you diet for the more your body begins to physiologically adapt to both slow down your fat loss and make you more prone to losing muscle. To reverse this effect, you can make use of a strategy known as ‘diet break’ where you increase your calories back to maintenance for a week or two during your diet. What I’d recommend for a similar effect is simply implementing a one-week diet break after every 4-8 weeks or so of dieting. This way, you’ll avoid increasing the length of your diet too much while still getting the many benefits that diet breaks have to offer.
So as you may have noticed guys, when it comes to maintaining your muscle during a diet or how to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, you need to avoid rushing the process and instead slow it down by using a more controlled and systematic approach. And if you’re looking for a step-by-step program that shows you exactly how to implement this with both your workouts and your nutrition, such that you can lean down while improving your muscle definition and strength, take the analysis quiz below to discover what science-based program best suits you and your starting point:
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FAST DIET VERSUS SLOW DIET
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