Losing Fat While Preserving Muscle!
You spent the whole off-season working hard to pack on extra size, and you gained 10, 15, or maybe even more weight than you ever thought possible, and now you are ready to compete. 12 weeks later, at your bodybuilding show, you realized you dieted so extreme that you lost 10, 15 or maybe even more muscle than that. All the hard work went out the window.
Now, let me be realistic: it is impossible to lose fat without losing muscle, and vice versa, without the use of drugs. But if you do things smart, you can come pretty close. By smart, I mean don't try and lose 30 pounds in 5 or 6 weeks, or a lot of that will be muscle.
After spending the last 8 weeks trying to gain muscle, I am now switching over to a fat loss cycle, and I don't plan on competing until March. That's about 18-20 weeks before I plan to compete. But for the next few months, I just want to work on fine-tuning some things while losing about a pound a week, maybe slightly more.
I currently weigh 227 pounds, and I am not 100% sure what weight I will compete at. I imagine I will know more as I lose some more weight, but my estimation is that I will compete at about 190lbs.
Keys To Burning Fat & Sparing Muscle
There are many key things to do in order to insure muscle preserving when you try and lose weight for a show or any other reason. A lot of them revolve around, you guessed it, the diet.
Maintain High Protein Consumption
When you go on a calorie-restricted diet, make sure that you are still taking in enough protein. Whey protein powder, chicken, turkey, lean beef, eggs, and milk should be the main staple. This will help fuel your muscles and help keep them big, as your muscles feed off of protein to help them grow.
I take in at least 1 gram per pound of bodyweight, and recommend that to anyone. This should also be increased whenever carbs are decreased.
Cut Carbohydrates Gradually
When in the off-season, bodybuilders tend to eat high amounts of carbs, which is perfectly okay. But when you switch to losing weight, you can't cut carbs all at once, or this will put your body in a state of shock. Gradually cut the amount of carbs in each meal week by week, and you should start shedding fat without losing muscle. Your body uses carbs for fuel and if you are on a low carb diet your body will switch to burning fat instead.
Eat More Frequently
Right now I am eating 6 meals a day, and that is a good number to stick by, if your lifestyle allows it. There are days when it is hard, but then I remember what is important to me. Three meals a day come from whole food, and the other three are supplements, like protein shakes or bars, sometimes with extra carbs. I alternate my food and supplement meals.
Meal 1 is usually supplement, then food, then supplement, and so on until I get three of each in for the day. Eating more often allows meals to be smaller, and it keeps your metabolism going steadily without overdoing it with one huge meal.
Cut Carbs At Night
This is something I just started doing. The last two meals of the day for me contain very little carbs if any. This will prevent them from being stored as fat at night when your metabolism slows down.
Increase Cardio Gradually
A lot of people don't do much if any cardio in the off-season. If you don't, start with 20 minutes after each weight training session, and increase it 5 minutes a week, and increase it as long as you need to burn the desired amount of fat.
Diet & Nutrition
Here is the current diet I am on that is going to get me ripped to the bone for my first show next March.
Along with this there are a few supplements I like to take.
- 10g Glutamine- Great for preserving muscle mass while dieting.
- 1 Multi-vitamin
- 2 Potassium pills, 99mg each
- 1 Flax-Oil Pill
- 3 1g Vitamin-C pills
So, there you have it. Try these tips out whenever you are looking to shed a few pounds, and remember, take things slow and results will come. My goal is to be at right around 10% body fat by January, allowing me to be ready for a show with 8 more weeks of hard dieting, so wish me luck. I plan to post some pictures on here to show everyone my progress. Until then keep working hard and e-mail me if you have any questions.
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I really liked your article, especially to take it slow and steady, and to do the cardio. I wished you told us more about types of HIT to employ, and if you use caffeine, and how much water you drink. Very good, thanks!