Many people do aerobics and other forms of long steady state cardio to lose fat. Although this may be effective for some, most people see a loss of both fat and muscle. Some people even starve themselves to lose fat. All of these activities and choices are catabolic in nature, so it should be no surprise that these people lose fat along with muscle.
Building muscle is hard as it is; you certainly do not want to waste them all away with the wrong kind of training and nutrition. So how exactly does a person lose fat without losing muscle? There are several factors to consider.
High Intensity Interval Training
Interval training uses anaerobic pathways and is different than long steady state cardio which uses aerobic pathways. Interval training is doing a low intensity exercise for a set period of time followed by a high intensity exercise. This is repeated for as many times a person wants. In layman terms: Go fast and then go slow.
What makes high intensity interval training so effective anyway? A study has shown that HIIT (high intensity interval training in short) has a better effect for burning fat than long steady state cardio. Whole body fat oxidation is higher when HIIT is performed instead of long-duration aerobics. HIIT also takes only 20-25 minutes to complete. This removes the fact of cortisol production and catabolism that long steady state cardio provides.
Weight training is vital to preserving muscle when losing fat. It is important to note that you cannot build significant muscle mass while trying to lose fat. It is physiologically not possible. The body needs excessive calories to gain weight and needs a deficit of calories to lose weight.
Weight training should only be used now as a means to prevent muscle loss. As such, your training should compromise of heavy weights and low volume. This will ensure that your body feels the need to retain muscle mass while you go on a calorie deficit to lose fat.
Without proper nutrition you will not be able to lose fat, regardless of training. Now, proper nutrition does not mean just eating ‘clean’ and dumping junk food. Proper nutrition means being smart and able to make good food choices.
First of all, you want your body to use fat as fuel. Cut out your carbohydrate intake by discarding starchy and processed food. This includes rice, pasta, bread, etc. Only eat vegetables and fruit as your carbohydrate sources. You see, processed food has gone through many manipulations. The outcome is food with chemicals and flavoring which is bad for your body.
The majority of your food intake should come from meat, diary, fruits and vegetables. Make sure that you eat at least 5 times a day so as to increase your metabolism throughout the day. Green tea will also help spike your metabolism. (Don’t drink them at night. The caffeine will make you stay awake.)
Your meals should be spread out by 2-3 hours and be relatively light compared to the normal 3 meals a day. One last thing to note is that you should not reduce the amount of food intake drastically. You should be relatively eating a little less but much healthier. This will ensure that your body doesn’t enter a catabolic state where it uses your muscles as fuel because of the absence of a food source for energy.
Losing fat without losing muscle is really quite simple. If you will discipline yourself to eat right, weight train and do HIIT, you will lose fat without any muscle loss.