An extremely common issue that people run into when they’re trying to lose fat, is that they notice they also lose muscle. Today, I want to cover the topic of losing fat while also maintaining as much muscle mass as possible.
In order to lose as much as as possible, while also maintaining muscle mass, you’re going to need to be going through a calorie deficit. Although, we don’t want that calorie deficit to be too severe or strict that you begin to lose your muscle mass. Rather, you will want to go through a less intense deficit that can prolong over a longer period of time.
I’ve structured this calorie deficit so that you can continue absolutely crushing your workouts, which is important when losing fat and maintaining muscle mass. We want a calorie deficit, but what we don’t want, is that calorie deficit to affect our workouts. You want to maintain your intensity as much as possible, if not at the same level that you were going through when you were bulking.
Step 1: The Calorie Deficit Strategy
Start with a 300 calorie deficit, which won’t affect your muscular gains, making it a good place to start. You should tweak this number based on your results, but a 300 calorie deficit is a good place to begin this. Normally, people would recommend you just continue this 300 calorie deficit 7 days a week, which would be a total of 2100 by the end of the week. What I would recommend you do instead of doing 300 calories per day, is to stagger it out. An example of this would be: You train three times per week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) – this will be structured to: Mondays you maintain your regular calorie count, Tuesdays you will cut 600 calories, Wednesdays keep it the same, Thursdays you will cut 600 calories, Friday you keep it the same, Saturday you will cut 450 calories, and Sunday you will cut 450 calories which totals to 2100 calories by the end of those 7 days.
You may ask, why would you do this? It seems easier to just cut 300 calories per day. Well, the reason I recommend you stagger it is because if you notice the days you maintain your regular calorie intake, those are the same days that you are training; which allows you to maximally perform each and every single workout without the feeling of starving yourself.
You will be able to put out a lot more performance on the days that you do go to the gym, compared to if you were at a 300, 400, or a 500 calorie deficit. If you’re a little more strict on the days you’re not training and try to keep your calories up on training days, you will be able to maximize your performance at the gym while also losing fat.
Step 2: Protein Intake
Step 2, MONITOR YOUR PROTEIN INTAKE! This is extremely important when you are trying to maintain muscle mass. I recommend that on a daily basis, you get 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
You may ask why I’m recommending to go up to 1.5 grams per body weight. That’s because you are in a calorie deficit and your body will have tough time maintaining the muscle mass. You may also notice that having 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight will actually yield you a lot more results without putting on a lot of fat.
Gauge what will work best and make sure to monitor what works for your body. If you are wondering what protein to purchase, head over to EHPLabs and check out their vast selection of quality proteins and use the promo code Barbarian for 10% off.
Step 3: Peri-Workout Nutrition
What the heck is peri-workout nutrition? This is your pre-workout nutrition, your during-workout nutrition, and your post-working nutrition. Typically, I don’t focus much on the during-workout nutrition. Some people do, but these are the guys who are really strict on body building, which I’m not. When it comes to the pre-workout, the most important thing to do is get the majority of your carbs or a high amount of carbs prior to you working out.
When I’m talking about pre-workout nutrition, I’m talking about 60-90 minutes before, so that your body has time to digest everything and not have an impact on your workouts. Digestion takes a lot of energy and you don’t want that process to be happening while you are trying to maximize your training. Doing this will fuel you up and give your body the resources required so that when you go into the gym, you can go BEAST MODE. Now, here is a quick example of a peri-workout strategy. The image below shows the ideal situation that I personally try to go after.
Do I hit this every single time? Absolutely not! A couple of days of the week I will and I’ll be proud of that, just try to follow your structure as closely as possible.
Let’s break this structure down: So from the point that I wake up (around 7:30-8 A.M. until about 11:30 A.M) my goal is to get either no carbohydrates or a low amount of carbohydrates. Instead, what I’m going to be focusing on consuming at this point is a high amount of proteins and I’ll throw in some fats in there as well; like avocado, peanut butter, and any form of nuts and seeds.
At 12 P.M, it’s lunch time. This is when I’m going to be getting in a little bit more carbohydrates, just a moderate amount. My lunch is typically going to be a form of a stir fry with a lot of protein, a lot of meat, and some vegetables in there. But a moderate amount of carbohydrates, which is going to be either in the form of brown rice or white rice. The carbs are just to keep me mentally going, it’s just what I feel that my body best responds to.
After that lunch, from about 12:30 P.M. to 5 P.M., my goal is to get either no carbohydrates or a low amount of carbohydrates.
Then we hit 5:30 P.M., This is when I’m going to focus on getting a high amount of carbohydrates. You’ll notice that I’ve planned this meal about an hour, sometimes an hour and a half, before I get into the gym. This is just so I can give my body the time that it needs to digest, as I spoke about above. Directly after that workout, about 15, 20, 30 minutes after, that’s when again I’m going to focus on getting a high amount of carbohydrates so I can replenish my body with all of the energy that I just burned off and consumed.
Directly after that meal – from about 8 P.M., to when I go to sleep, my goal is to have no carbohydrates or low amount of carbohydrates for the rest of the day. It’s important to at least monitor peri-workout nutrition and understand it, so that you can optimize the calories that you are using in a day.
Step 4: Track Your Maxes
TRACK YOUR MAXES. This is important! What I mean by “track your maxes”, is to track your exercises, your compound lifts. The big movements like: squats, dead-lifts, bench press, and overhead press. You may notice that, because you’re going through a deficit, you may lose a bit of your muscle mass. Although, you want to ensure that you are losing as minimal muscle mass as possible and the best way to track that is by tracking your maxes. Whether that’s your one rep max, your three rep max, or your 5 rep max, track this consistently, week after week, while going through your cut. The main goal of this is to try and maintain those numbers for as long as possible.
For you guys who just learned about peri-nutirion workout and implement it, you may notice that your maxes actually go up because you are properly fueled before your workouts. If you notice that your bench, dead-lift, overhead press, and squads go down by around 20-25 pounds, then you should change the calorie deficit; it’s clearly too strict for you.
Keep these steps in mind when you are trying to gain muscle but also lose fat. It’s fairly simple and it will take you some time to figure out what works for your body, but the outcome will be extremely noticeable.
Thank you for checking out the BarbarianBody blog. If you are looking to transform your physique, why not get started with our FREE fitness quiz?!