Is it possible to lose fat without losing weight?
I’m going to give you a few pretty simple tips that you need in order to prevent muscle loss and to maintain your gains while you’re a cutting phase and while you’re focusing on losing fat. Building muscle does take a lot of hard work and patience, muscle growth happens a lot more slowly than fat loss does and so it’s understandable that people are concern about this.
In reality though it’s actually pretty simple, there are only a few basic things to keep in mind here and if you follow them, then you likely won’t lose much muscle if any at all. Especially if you’re a beginner, in which case you might actually be able to re-comp to gain some muscle while you’re losing fat. So basically you have the training side and you have a nutrition side.
Training and Workouts to lose belly fat without losing weight:
So let’s start off with the training side and the main thing here to keep in mind, if you want to burn fat and maintain muscle,is just to make sure that your basic weight training approach remains the same as it was when you were trying to gain muscle. You can reduce the overall volumes slightly but what you don’t want to do is make the very common mistake of switching to a lighter weight-higher rep program.
A lot of people do this thing thinking that it somehow improves fat loss or that it brings out more definition in their muscles, but this is, of course, completely false. You can’t spot-reduce fat loss from specific areas of your body and go with light weight-high rep sets, it isn’t doing anything other than weakening the overall stimulus of your training.
Train as Hard as you Can
If you really want to lose fat and maintain muscle then you need to continue training hard, training heavy and striving for progressive overload to make sure your body is receiving a strong enough stimulus to hold on to its existing muscle while being in a deficit, and on top of that don’t start reducing your rest time in-between sets as a way to try and burn more calories. Your diet and your cardio is going to take care of the calorie burning aspect and you’re the only goal in the weight room should be to provide your body with the most powerful stimulus that you can, so that it has the proper incentive to hold on to its muscle and you do that by training with the same basic principles that you were using when you were trying to gain muscle. So that’s mean training within the area or two of failure on your sets and staying within that basic hypertrophy rep range of about five to twelve reps per set. The other thing to keep in mind on the training side is to not go overboard on cardio.
Doing Cardio and HIIT
I always recommend performing some cardio whether your bulking or cutting, because it does have a variety of physical and mental benefits outside of just burning calories, but you definitely don’t need to be performing marathon cardio sessions, you don’t need to be doing cardio every day, just start off with a moderate amount. Two to three sessions per week in combination with weight training is a good starting point and ideally tried to space it away from your weight training workouts if you can. So either cardio on the morning and weight training at nights, weight training in the morning and cardio at night or just flip them on separate days altogether, and if you really want to combine them because you have a very busy schedule or you just want to be as time efficient as possible then always do it post workout, don’t do cardio before your weight training workouts.
Weight training should always take precedence over cardio if you’re trying to maximize muscle retention and you don’t want to pre-fatigue yourself prior to weight training as a result of doing cardio. One final point here is that the amount of cardio that you do also depend on what your lifestyle is like outside of the gym. If you work a physically active job or you have other physically demanding hobbies that you do then you may need a very little additional cardio if any at all. So that the training side, and then after that, we have the nutritional side.
The Diet to lose belly fat without losing weight:
The first thing here is to stick with a moderate calories surplus and to focus on losing fat at a gradual pace, and usually, that one to two pounds per week guideline is a good overall rate for most people unless you’re significantly overweight, in which case you can go a bit faster than that. Larger more aggressive calorie deficits are okay in the short term but most people won’t be able to stick to them for very long, their training performance will start to suffer, mood and energy levels will go down and your chance of losing muscle will increase as a result.
So in most cases I’d say just go with a standard 500 calories below maintenance deficit to start off with and take things at the more gradual pace because that way you will feel better, you’ll get better workouts, your chance of sticking to your fat loss guide will hugely increase and of course you will be more likely to retain the majority of your muscle. Aside from basic calorie intake, you want to make sure that you’re getting a sufficient amount of daily protein and fat.
That’s usually pretty easy to do with some proper planning. So anywhere from 0.8 to 1.0 gram of protein per pound of body weight daily that’s likely going to be enough to lose fat while maintaining muscle, and if you just want to be fully on the safe side then just go with 1.0 gram per pound of body weight because it’s not going to harm you and it basically guarantees that you’re getting enough protein. When it comes to fat you want to make sure that you’re getting enough of that so that your testosterone levels and your mood remain elevated and a good figure for that is to get around 25% of your total daily calories from fat. I would say that 20% is the minimum, I wouldn’t recommend going below 20% for an extended period of time.