How to Prevent Muscle Loss When Losing Weight

By , SparkPeople Blogger
When starting a weight-loss plan, most of us hope to lose body fat, specifically—not muscle mass. But when we lose weight, a large percentage of the total weight lost can be muscle. Is there any way to reduce that muscle loss?
How to Lose Weight (Body Fat)
To lose weight you need to create a caloric deficit by consuming fewer calories than you are burn each day. This is usually accomplished by: 1) eating less food (fewer calories), 2) burning more calories by exercising more, or 3) a combination of both.  In an ideal world, all of the weight we lose would be body fat, but in truth, losing weight means losing fat—and some muscle, fluids, etc.
How to Maintain Muscle Mass
Your muscles actually help hold some of your body fat in place. Therefore it is natural that you will lose some muscle when you lose body fat because that muscle tissue is longer needed. But you don’t want to lose large amounts of muscle, especially from your large muscle groups. To prevent the loss of muscle mass while on a weight-loss plan:
  • Do not cut calories drastically. Drastic and sudden drops in caloric intake will result in a higher percentage of muscle loss. (See notes for a general progression below.)
  • Eat to meet your protein needs. You don't need to go above and beyond (it won't provide additional benefit). 
  • Perform muscle-building strength training exercises at least two times weekly. If you're not lifting weights, up to 30 percent of the weight you lose could be muscle tissue.
Best Practices for Maintaining Muscle during Weight Loss
Everyone begins a weight-loss plan with different eating habits, disease conditions, physical abilities, and needs. These factors will affect how quickly and easily you lose weight. The guidelines that follow are general suggestions. You may be able to progress faster, or you may have to go somewhat slower. Work with your health care provider and assess your needs as you chart the course for your specific, individualized weight-loss plan to lose body fat and build muscle.
  • Weeks 1-2: By the end of week 2 you should be eating within your new reduced calorie range most days of the week. Don't worry yet if all the other numbers (protein, etc.) aren't quite on target.
  • Week 3: Tweak your diet to meet your recommended protein, fat and carbohydrate ranges most days of the week while staying within your calorie range.
  • Weeks 4-8: By the end of week 8, you should be burning at least 2,000 calories each week through planned exercise.
  • By week 12: You should be incorporating at least 2 sessions of strength training each week for all of your major muscle groups. To maintain muscle mass, exercises should work your muscles to fatigue by the end of each set.
A combination of dietary changes, aerobic exercise and strength training—not just one or two of the three—is the most effective plan to follow to lose body fat, while preserving lean muscle tissue.

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


CECELW 9/2/2020
I do circuit training once or twice a week Report
LIS193 8/6/2020
Thanks Report
RO2BENT 7/26/2020
Strength training is also important Report
Wow! Supposed to be doing at least 2000 calories a week of exercise & I'm not nearly close to that & hv been here many months past 8 weeks. I may need to shake things up sooner rather than later. Began Qi Gong this week & need to add some weight training at home. It fell apart when I completed my last PT round, just been doing the basics. Progress not perfection these days. Report
GREAT!! Report
thank you Report
Thanks for sharing Report
Thanks for the information. Report
Gotta do the hard work Report
Thank You for a great article. Report
Science!!! Report
Great information. Report
Great article! Report
Great advice. Report
Let’s do it. Report
Always worry that I'm losing muscle. I do lots of walking but ST I don't really care for. Report
Thanks. Report
I will put this need-to-now information into exercise routine. Report
Great information. Thanks. Report
Good article, great discussion! Report
Good information and an item we need to pay attention to. Report
Good information. Report
Thanks great! Report
Great article. After reading it, I learned a lot about how to prevent muscle fat. Report
Thanks! for sharing Report
Good advice Report
great article Report
Great information! Thank you! Report
Thanks for this. Report
thank you for this helpful article Report
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
- Mohandas Gandhi Report
Thanks! Report
Great article Report
good points Report
- calories in..+ calories out.. Report
Thanks for the helpful information! :) Report
Every true love song, by its very nature, is a duet.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie Report
very useful Report
such important information. Our muscles are the furnace for our bodies, burning those calories! The more muscle, the better we burn our fuel. Report
Good to know! Report
Thank you. Report
Burning 2,000 calories from planned exercise seems a lot to me. I'm a pretty small build and, not vastly overweight. Taking into account my current physical abilities, I'd have to be exercising for about 8 to 10 hours per week to burn 2,000 calories. Report
Exercise is mostly so you lose fat instead of muscle, which happens if you just focus on calories. I like the general guidelines. Details are always individual. Report
Love this article! Report
2000 calories a week for me is 3 days of my weight lifting program and 7 days of walking only 2 miles a day. Totally doable. Report
These are great moves-- Report
Interesting. Wish I'd read this at the beginning, although it turns out that I followed a lot of this advice except the strength work. Report
Whoa, super leery of the one size fits none, everyone should burn 2,000 calories, each week working out philosophy! Holy that is a ton of calories! I wear a Charge HR, so I get a total calories burned based on my heart rate at the end of each workout. Heart pumping in the peak/cardio range can mean 400 calories for 50 minutes of work. That intensity, five days a week?! Not likely. I know that I burn waaaaay fewer calories than most thanks to my PCOS. However, the assumption that everyone needs to burn the same number is ridiculous. We don't eat the same number, so burning/expending the same is neither plausible or feasible. Otherwise, the suggestions given to maintain muscle mass are appreciated! ;) Report