Welllll hello there…!!
Why I’ve blogged 4 times in the last year is beyond me BUT I’ve been craving it more than ever so here we are! Surprisingly it took me going on an instagram hiatus to feel reconnected to writing – and I’ve only been on my hiatus for a day and a half hahah. I’m planning on going on occasionally this week to make sure I’m not missing any potential new client messages but aside from that, I’d prefer to stay off of it as much as possible for now. I just feel disconnected with people in a weird way. Always having access to you and what you’re doing makes me feel like I never actually need to check in.
I’m happy to be back and cannot wait to share this info with you!
Mmmmm girrrrrll today we are talkin about the goooooal of a lifetime.
How to maintain as much muscle as possible while losing a significant amount of fat.
First of all, let’s quickly go over why this should be the goal, rather than the goal being “I’m just trying to lose weight”.
Muscle is going to add that shape to your body that you’re trying to achieve and muscle increases your basal metabolic rate (BMR) which means that you burn more calories at rest. If you are solely focused on trying to lose weight without maintaining muscle, then you will LOSE muscle mass, then fat, and then burn less calories while you stand on the scale and look down at a number that might seem like an achievement, but ultimately isn’t. At this point you are now burning less calories at rest than you would be if you had maintained muscle which means that your caloric intake cannot be very high unless you plan on running it off everyday.
Sounds like a recipe for fatigue and unfortunately it is the recipe that most people opt for because they simply don’t know any better. I’m a woman. I grew up reading the same articles and interviews that you did about “how to lose weight”. It was cardio cardio, cardio, juice, smoothie, no cheese for the love of god, more cardio, don’t eat after 7pm, cardio, 6 meals a day blah blah blahhhhh I could go on.
I hate that we all became so brainwashed and that this information was blasted to us 24/7 but luckily more and more professionals are providing research on how strength training + proper diet will help you achieve your ideal physique.
Lastly – before we get into the 4 main ways you can maintain muscle mass while losing weight, I want to remind you guys that muscle is about 18% more dense than fat.
This is a dexa scan that shows a male who went from 31% body fat to 21% body fat (yellow). The red represents his muscle. So as you can see, his body shape in the 4th photo is slimmer but it’s possible that his weight on the scale remained the same or even increased as he maintained or built muscle mass.
This is why you see before and after photos of girls on insta all the time who show you a picture of themselves at 120 pounds with a pooch, poor posture, and no booty, to a pic of them with abs, an ass, and toned arms, weighing in at 135. They decreased their body fat % while putting on muscle !
Here’s a few examples from me and a couple of my clients. These transformations are all a result of lifting weights and walking. No cardio.
Alright, here are the 4 main things to focus on when looking to maintain muscle mass while decreasing body fat.
Focus on Progressive Overload:
This basically means that you just want to focus on getting stronger. It’s hard at first but instead of paying so much attention to the number on the scale, I want you to start paying attention to the weight you’re lifting and the amount of reps you’re able to get on various exercises. If you can get 15 squats right now with 30lbs but can get 18 squats with 30lbs in 3 weeks, that means you’ve gotten stronger! This means you are building muscle. If you are just starting your fitness journey then you will likely see massive gains in your progressive overload somewhat quickly. As you start becoming more advanced with your training, these achievements will take a bit longer but will be equally as satisfying. This advancement of strength will contribute to overall fat loss assuming you’re following a appropriate diet. Which leads us to step #2.
Get your protein up!:
I’ve coached hundreds of women and have talked to most of them on the phone while we go over their current macros. I’d say 90% of them would be consuming 40-60g of protein a day on average, while the other 10% would hit around 90g. Sooo everyone was lower than where I wanted them! The general rule is to consume 1g of protein per lb of lean body mass. So for example, if a client is 130 pounds and has 20% body fat, then we would do 130 x .20 = 26. Take 26 away from 130 which gives us 104 meaning she’d have 104lbs of LEAN BODY MASS. So I would want that client to aim for 104g of protein a day MINIMUM. Eating enough protein not only helps you maintain your muscle, but it SERIOUSLY helps to regulate your appetite. It also has a high thermic effect of food (read my blog about Thermic Effect of Food, here) which means that it burns more calories when consumed as compared to fat and carbohydrates.
Maintain a Caloric Deficit:
OK who’s afraid of lifting weights because you’re scared you’re going to get *BuLky*? We have covers of bodybuilder magazines to blame for that fear BUT I have good news. You ready? You will not get bulky from lifting weights if you are not consuming a surplus of calories. Same way you won’t be overweight if you don’t consume a surplus of calories. I know. It’s crazy. But trust me. As long as you are burning more calories than you are consuming, then you will lose weight. (I have a blog all about this, here). A good way to figure this out is to take your body weight and multiply it by 12. That will give you a pretty close estimate of how many cals you should consume to be in a caloric deficit. If you’re not looking to lose weight but you’d like to build more muscle and maintain your weight, then take your current body weight and multiply it by 15 to find your maintenance calories.
Lose Weight Gradually:
A common message I get from online clients who have been killing it for a couple of months is, “I feel like I was doing really well and now I feel like I’ve plateaued. I lost 20 pounds from Jan to Feb and then in March I only lost 10 pounds. What’s wrong?!” Nothing is wrong. You are actually doing this perfectly. When people go into too much of a caloric deficit and lose too much weight too quickly, they lose a ton of muscle, decrease their BMR, and usually end up gaining that weight back + some, quickly. Ideally if you have 70 pounds to lose for example, you’d lose 20 in month one if you’re really on top of your game, maybe 10 pounds in month 2, and then 40 pounds over the next 10 months. Just like with progressive overload, beginners will experience huge results in the first few months but your progress will slow as you become more advanced. That should be exciting to you! You’re becoming a stronger, healthier and more fit version of yourself so continue making goals for yourself and enjoy the process!
I’m happy to answer any questions you guys have! Also don’t forget to check out this page to see what online services I’m currently offering! Whether you’re looking for a 30 day program or a customized month to month training plan, I got you!