Increasing muscle tissue and then protecting and preserving it while you are dieting has become a real fear for many muscle builders across the world. Of course, spending all that time in the gym building your muscle up only to lose it while dieting sucks. You’ve spent months, perhaps years, getting your muscle to where you want it, only to lose it all once you start trying to lose some fat. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, preserving muscle while dieting isn’t actually that difficult, as we are going to find out below.
While it’s true that if you reduce your calorie intake a lot, your muscle mass will go quite quickly, there are ways of maintaining virtually all of your muscle when you’re trying to lose some fat. You see, a severe calorie restriction means that your body must find enough calories to burn elsewhere.
So, your body will burn fat, but it will also burn muscle to keep itself going too. So, one way of protecting your muscle is to not restrict your calories too much, that way your body will burn off the fat, but keep the muscle you’ve worked hard for.
So, that is just a general way of maintaining muscle during dieting. Here are four other things that you can do to keep as much lean muscle as possible while trying to get rid of a few extra pounds of unwanted fat.
4 Way To Protect Your Muscles While Dieting
1. Consume More Protein
Most will know that if you looking to lose fat ‘cutting’, you have to reduce the number of calories you’re taking in. You do need to reduce the amount of fat and macros carbohydrate you’re eating but keep protein levels higher. But why do you need to keep your protein levels up? Well, studies show that protein ingestion induces muscle protein synthesis. Basically, if you keep your protein levels high during cutting, you’ll keep as much muscle as humanly possible, whilst shedding more fat. The protein will also help your muscles to heal and repair faster, when you workout you cause tiny micro-tears in your muscles, which is totally normal. but you need to make sure you are feeding your muscles with enough protein to keep them recovering quickly. This way you are also less likely to Delayed Onset Muscles Soreness.
We wouldn’t recommend cutting out any food groups entirely, as each has its place in the healthy functioning of the body. However depending on what your goals are you can tweak the volume of each.
2. Get Lifting
To maintain as much muscle mass as possible during a cutting period, you gotta lift! You have to lift some weights, and you have to lift them a lot! Over the last decade, we have learnt a lot about training volumes and how important it is when dictating muscle hypertrophy.
To get everything out of your workout, you have to maximise the volume you are lifting with a combination of reps, sets and weight. Having said all of this, there is a U shaped curve in which too much stimulus can actually cause more muscle damage than can be repaired during a cut. So, there has to be an artful balance. You need to find a volume of training that is heavy enough to continue growing muscle and a combination of reps and sets to get enough volume without damaging the muscles beyond repair during your cutting period.
As everyone is different, we can’t give you a lifting routine to help with this. It is something that you must venture out into the gym to figure out on your own. Happy lifting!
3. Get Nutrient Timing
Nutrient timing is not a massive deal when you’re increasing your muscle. In fact, it probably only contributes to about 2.5% of failure or success during your training. However, during your cutting phases, it is a bigger factor. During this period, nutrient timing can help contribute about 5% to maintaining muscle.
During a cutting period, you want to minimise your muscle loss and maximise your muscle growth. So, if you have an allotment of calories during this period, you have to make sure that they are going to your main goal of maintaining your muscle.
Even though we know that the post-workout window for growing muscle is longer than first thought, it is still important to get some calories in you during this period. Having some calories during this post-workout period begins the recovery process faster. So, instead of your body needing to refuel and eating your muscle because it has no choice, a few calories here can start the recovery process and keep your muscle largely intact.
Like we said, nutrient timing isn’t a massive deal. However, it is a minor trick that provides minor results. Even though the results are minor, they can make the difference during your whole cutting period, and so nutrient timing is worth considering if you’re worried about losing your muscle mass.
4. Get Sleeping
Sleep is a vital part of recovery. As we sleep, our body and brain do a lot. The brain can direct oxygen and nutrients to parts of our body that need to heal that would otherwise be used while we are walking or thinking or lifting. As you’re losing weight, your reduced calories mean that your recovery time is longer. Basically, because you aren’t eating as much as your body needs, a lot of the processes slow down because the body can’t do them as well as the usual and this includes the maintenance and repair of muscle tissue.
Research states that athletes typically get less sleep than “regular” people. On average athletes get about 6-7.2 hours of sleep per night. However, increasing this to the ever popular 8 hours of sleep per night can do wonders. 8 hours of sleep a night can allow your body to repair and maintain your muscles because you aren’t expending as many calories as you are during the day. So, when you wake up, you’ll be ready to take on the day just like you are when you are gaining and not cutting.
So, there are four ways of increasing and preserving your muscles during a cutting period. It’s a good job that we sell protein powder here on Eternal Vibrance, you’re going to need some quality protein powder if you want to lose some fat and maintain your muscle!
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