Can you really lose just fat and not muscle too!

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Can you really lose just fat and not muscle too!

This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  JC 10 years, 2 months ago.

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  • So, started 5:2 MOE in October, had a couple of weeks off for Christmas and have lost over 8kgs. Just dipped below 70kgs and on target to reach my 65kgs.
    Just had my stats done at the gym which shows that whilst I have lost 8 kgs, about 6kgs plus was fat, 1.8kgs was muscle!
    I work out twice a week, weights, TRX and cardio, two Pilates classss and a bit of swimming.
    My question is – is it possible, on any type of diet,to lose fat only and not lose any muscle?

    Has anybody else had this problem? Is it a problem?

    Hi there pinksta66.

    You have unfortunately come across one of the most frustrating parts of the fitness world; lose the weight in fat, not muscle.

    Sadly there doesn’t seem to be a perfect answer yet to science. Every individual is different and their bodies work like this too. The general advice is that is you’re gunna start your cut (weight lose programme to get shredded) of all the weight you lose, 75% will be fat and 25% will be muscle; not much we can do about that. However, the current research suggests that if performing heavier weight exercises with your resistance work, free weights, sprints, machines etc. then the loss will be limited. But you will have to accept you’re going to lose some muscle.

    Some of the best inspiration for this actually comes from bodybuilders. Not that I’m advocating the same level of training they do for the lay exerciser, but they actually have some of the best exercises and advice for dealing with this problem. As you’ll see, they tend to bulk up pretty large till nearer show time, then cut down to their desired weight; accepting they will lose the odd few pounds of lean muscle. Its important to bear in mind however, that they work towards a specific date, not a general weight they would like to maintain.

    I would advise looking at the “Harris Benedict equation” to work out your daily calorie needs, then minus that by 500kcal to limit the amount of muscle lost over the long term when trying to lose weight. Keep up your gym work and recovery, and hold onto that muscle!

    It’s a complicated subject, but if you’d like some more specifics I’d be happy to expand on any of these points.


    All I can say is that I have been following the 5:2, working out doing weights 3 times a week, spin twice a week and walking 5ks at least twice a week (quite often 3 or 4 times a week) since mid November.

    During that time I have lost weight, I’m weighing around 10kilos less than I did then, I have also gained muscle. I don’t have any precise stats for that but my legs are stronger and firmer, as is my core and shoulders and arms. My weights training shows that I have gotten stronger.

    So I would have to say that I have more muscle and less fat than I did mid november last year.

    Thats great! Shows its working for you and if that’s what you’re aiming for with your training then perfect.

    If you’re new to exercise then the body can burn fat and building muscle for a short period of time. However, after this period has past then it is extremely inefficient at this. The only other times its good at this is when you come back to exercise after a break due to illness or whatever other reason for stopping. Additionally the muscles will firm up and become more active, increase in muscle tone leading to the increase of size and firmness you have explained. But in terms of strength gains, the first thing to change with your body when you start to train is the muscle recruitment, i.e. how much of your muscle you use, on a biological level; nothing you can actively decide to do about it.

    If you’re interested have a look at this website, it gives a nice little explanation of this factor.

    However, once this phase has past you will find it pretty hard to continue to build measurable increases in muscle size whilst on negative calorie diet (having less calories than your body needs to maintain its current size, hence why it burns fat). Give measuring yourself a go and see how you get on. It can be really encouraging to have figures to measure yourself with, or even before and after photos.

    Thanks JC – I was worried that I was doing something wrong! That’s certainly how I was made to feel!
    I definitely feel more toned and have more definition on my legs, arms/shoulders and abs.
    I am trying to increase my protein intake on both fast and non fast days and have also looked at protein shakes.
    I think the secret is not to panic – I’l get down to 65 kgs then look to maintain this, hopefully adding a bit more muscle along the way.

    No worries pinksta66! You’ve hit it on the head there, just don’t worry about it. Have you taken your physical measurements or pictures of before and after? They’re a really nice way to be able to see actually how well you’re getting on, but its great you’ve begun to notice things changing.

    Let us know how you get on!

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