Being able to build muscle while burning fat has always been the holy grail of fitness. Nothing beats the aesthetics of massive, but lean musculature. The only problem with building muscle and burning fat is that they are often on the opposite ends of fitness training.
Strength training is straightforward. Follow the principle of progressive overload, and you’re guaranteed to build muscle. Fat loss, on the other hand, often focuses on endurance to burn fat. The problem is when the body breaks down muscle instead of fat.
The mistake most guys make when trying to lose fat is not understanding the rationale behind the process, so they lose fat, but at the same time lose a lot of muscle mass. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can burn fat while retaining muscle mass.
We can’t teach our body to just target fat and avoid catabolism. That would never happen. When you burn fat, it’s always a risk you have to take. What you can do preserve muscle by focusing your diet to build muscle, and complement it with workouts that help increase muscle mass. Sounds simple enough, right? Here’s how.
The caloric deficit is the basic principle you need to understand to lose fat.
For you to start losing fat, you must be consuming fewer calories than what you eat. Certain diets will help you control your food intake, but what you want is a low-calorie diet that gives you enough protein to maintain your muscle mass. All weight-loss diets focus on reducing your calorie intake and force your body to use up stored fat for energy.
Your body needs protein to help you preserve muscle mass while in a caloric deficit. Increased protein intake will also suppress your appetite, allowing you to go longer on fewer calories. Don’t fixate on counting your calories and fat intake. As long as you’re reducing your food intake, and you focus on protein as the main bulk of your diet, you’re all good
Low volume, high-intensity strength training
It’s a common misconception that increased reps on weight training will help you maintain muscle while burning fat. In fact, these exercises are counterproductive in retaining muscle mass. Low-intensity weight training with more reps is just cardio done differently. What you need is to maintain the intensity just as it was when you were aiming to build muscle. That way, you can give your body a solid basis to maintain muscle mass.
Condensed Muscle Training
Condensed muscle training is all about keeping your workout intervals tight, and allow fewer rests in between to sustain muscle mass while burning fat.
This type of training is akin to circuit training, and the difference is the shorter rests in between. If you are used to a long pause in between reps, try reducing your rest period to a point that would still be sufficient to give you enough power and stamina to perform the next set.
Smart Cheat Days
To put it simply, Smart Cheat Days is just using your cheat days strategically to maintain muscle mass and your fat loss goals on track. With a controlled, lean, low-calorie diet, your body will adjust accordingly, and your hormones will adapt as they should, and using cheat days strategically will give you more control over the psychological and physiological aspect of dieting to maintain your progress.
Take a day or two of smart cheat days where you eat just enough calories to match your maintenance diet or even a slight increase – it wouldn’t matter much. The point is to restore a bit of your energy just enough to replenish your glycogen levels and boost your energy and mood. Take into consideration that you can also increase your protein intake at this time to help you with your muscle retention goals.
It’s not enough to focus on weight training to maintain muscle mass and burn fat. You can utilize HIIT and low-intensity cardio to further widen the caloric deficit and accelerate your fat loss progress even with more calorie consumption. This will help you preserve muscle mass and retain energy to support longer, more intense workouts.
Do HIIT training with cardio at least once a week so you can still maintain your progress on the fat loss front. Just do enough so you won’t sap your energy reserves once you get down to weight training. One type of exercise you can get more of is low-intensity cardio, which would have a minimal effect on your training
The caloric deficit, the changes in your diet, and the insane amount of nutrients that your body needs to maintain your progress would have you depend on supplements. It’s near impossible to optimize your fitness without optimizing your nutrition, and that’s where supplements come in.
Reducing your food intake would prevent you from consuming the other nutrients and minerals that your body needs to properly function. You need a good multivitamin to make sure that you still hit your daily nutrient allowance.
The insanely high protein requirement would demand protein supplements to meet your body’s needs. Get a good low-cal protein shake and integrate it with your diet.
I wouldn’t be surprised if hunger pangs take over after a few weeks. This drastic change in your lifestyle could break anyone down. Taking appetite suppressants might soften the blow and allow you to stay on track longer. You can also use thermogenic-based fat burners to improve your metabolism, so you won’t have to restrict your diet too much.
Lastly, a good testosterone supplement can help enhance muscle growth. Get the energy, strength, and stamina from a superior testosterone supplement, and make things easier for you as you go.
Burning fat while retaining muscle mass is the holy grail in men’s fitness, but you won’t have to punish yourself too much to reach your goals. There are smarter ways to achieve the results you want, and the secret is tapping supplements to give your body exactly what it needs to help you achieve your goals.