4 Bad Habits That Cut the Muscle, Not the Fat

There are countless guides for weight loss that can help you cut fat and slim down. But losing weight is a little more difficult if you want to burn off fat while retaining your muscle mass. If you’ve worked hard to gain muscle and want to get a trimmer figure while still looking toned, be sure to avoid these pitfalls on your weight loss journey.

Cutting Too Many Calories

The key guideline that most people turn to when they want to lose fat is cutting back on calories. While this is certainly an important part of losing weight, you don’t want to take it to an extreme. If you cut calories too drastically, it can backfire when it comes to your fat loss goals. Extreme drops in caloric intake can send your body into survival mode, causing it to burn fat as well as muscle to get the fuel it needs. You can consult with a trainer or dietitian for assistance, but most people should start by cutting back by only 200 calories per day.

Eating Less Protein

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When you’re changing your eating habits to cut muscle, make sure you’re not eliminating protein-rich foods from your diet. Foods such as lean meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and high-quality protein supplements shouldn’t be cut from your diet to accommodate a calorie deficit. Instead, focus on eliminating or minimizing portions of foods that don’t contribute to muscle gain, such as mayonnaise, butter, sugary drinks, and processed foods. Be sure you still get plenty of protein in your diet to lose weight while building muscle.

Focusing Your Workouts on Cardio

Moderate-intensity cardio workouts, such as long runs or brisk bike rides, don’t help as much with weight loss as you may think. This type of exercise can actually cause your muscle mass to decrease over time. If your workouts are focused mostly on this type of cardio, you’ll find that you’re burning more muscle than fat. To get the muscle-building results you want while losing weight, follow a weightlifting regimen and complete one or two high-intensity cardio sessions each week. Just a few minutes of sprints (20-second sprints, 10-second rests) is much better for retaining your muscles.

Forgetting to Refuel

After you work out, it’s tempting to just crash on the couch and give your body some rest. But before you do that, you need to refuel. If you forget this step, your muscle fibers won’t get a chance to repair themselves and your energy reserves will plummet. To make the most of your workouts when it comes to building muscle, eat something that’s rich in protein (such as Greek yogurt or a healthy protein shake) within 30 minutes of your workout ending. You should also attempt to get a full eight hours of sleep each night so your muscles can recover completely.

Use these steps to help get the toned, muscular body you want. By following these tips, you can cut back on your body fat while still building up muscle, helping your body become healthier and stronger day by day.