I picked this topic because a lot of my friends and clients are currently on cutting diets trying to get ready for this summer. Some of them managed to build up decent muscle mass during the Clean bulking phase and now their biggest concern when it comes to dieting is to lose as much fat at possible while sparing the hard earned muscle mass. To be honest with you I’ve done some diets with pretty bad results but after each diet I was a lot smarter and also I got to know my body which is the most important factor in all this.
Biggest mistakes that lead to muscle loss when dieting
Here’s a list of some common mistakes that are a result of missing the right information. I’ve done most of them and I hope you’ll learn from my experience.
- Low carbohydrate diets – I’m not a big fan of low carb diets even before I tried them, it just seemed wrong in the first place. I’ve tried this approach 2 times and both times I’ve lost a lot of muscle trying to get to 6% body fat.
- Not counting calories – Knowing your daily calorie intake and output is crucial if you want to lose fat and keep your muscles. My first diet was without count calories and after a month I’ve hit a fat loss plateau: Testosterone levels were decreased, lost strength, fat level wasn’t dropping and the worst I was getting smaller every week :(. Those were tough times, it’s not easy to look all your gains go away but lucky for others they can learn from my experience.
- Not eating enough protein – There’s a lot of different recommendations on daily protein intake all over the web. I won’t try to prove any of them wrong but I can tell what worked for me. High protein intake is crucial for keeping your muscle, there is no way to avoid this. You can argue with me all day but I know and tried it on myself, if you don’t eat enough protein you’ll lose muscle.
- LI Cardio on empty stomach – This will eat your muscle up like nothing else. Too much of any kind of cardio is bad for muscles. Again I’m not a scientist or a chemist but I’ve tried this myself and the results were pretty bad. When facing calorie deficit your body will try to get energy from thing it doesn’t use, like your muscles when doing low intensity workout.
- Weird high rep light weight lifting – I don’t know where this myth was created but most of my clients used to think that to bulk you must lift heavy and to cut you need to do some crazy high rep workout that burns more fat. This couldn’t be more wrong, it’s the same problem as with low intensity cardio. Basically if you don’t utilize your muscles to maximum potential (you lift only light weight) your body will start to break it down.
- Trying to get fast results – Losing 1 kg of fat per week might seem tempting at first but trust me the slower you lose fat the more muscle you will keep. Be smart and don’t do some Crash diet from magazines which claims to burn 1kg of fat per week.
If your goal doesn’t excite you and scare you at the same time, your goal is too small!
Aim for huge goals but also be happy with little achievements. Pick a date, imagine it’s a competition and do 12 weeks of preparation (dieting) to look the best you can on that date. This works even better if you do with some friends! Setting goals like this will keep you focused and help you get to know your body through the process, having some sort of deadline also forces you to break through the comfort zone and take action every day.
Please share your diet experience with us in the comments section below. Also if you have any questions and need help don’t hesitate to ask. Stay awesome and good luck with your goals!