How are some maintaining muscle mass during dieting? As someone deeply passionate about fitness and body transformation, I’ve encountered a recurring concern among my followers and clients: the fear of losing muscle mass while shedding body fat. This is a legitimate worry, as aggressive dieting or achieving very low body fat levels can indeed lead to muscle loss.
But here’s the interesting part: there’s a significant difference between knowing about potential muscle loss and actually experiencing it. I’m here to tell you that it’s entirely possible to navigate a dieting phase without sacrificing any of your hard-earned muscle mass. For a deeper understanding, I recommend checking out “The Complete Exercise Guide to Muscle Hypertrophy,” which provides extensive insights into muscle growth and strength training. You can grab 2 free chapters HERE!
First, let’s acknowledge that measuring muscle loss is far more complex than measuring fat loss. So, how can you tell if you’re losing muscle? The answer lies in understanding the relationship between muscle growth, strength, and the types of adaptations your body undergoes.
When muscles grow, they not only increase in size (hypertrophy) but also in strength. This strength isn’t just a byproduct of muscle size; it’s a combination of physiological and neurological adaptations. The fascinating part is that the neurological aspect is influenced by your exercise routine. Consistent training contributes positively to these adaptations, boosting your strength even if your muscles aren’t getting visibly bigger.
This brings us to an essential insight: strength can be a reliable indicator of muscle mass during a dieting phase. Think of strength as an equation: Physiological Adaptations + Neurological Adaptations = Strength. You can increase your strength in several ways, either by enhancing physiological adaptations, neurological adaptations, or both. If you maintain or increase your strength while dieting, it’s a good sign you’re not losing muscle.
But what if your strength plateaus or decreases? That’s a signal you might be losing muscle, especially since you’re still contributing to neurological adaptations through training. If your physiological adaptations (i.e., muscle mass) were stable, your strength would continue to increase.
However, it’s crucial to view strength in the context of your entire training program, not just a single exercise. A plateau in one exercise doesn’t necessarily mean muscle loss if you’re making gains in other areas. Overall strength is the key metric here.
In summary, muscle mass loss during a dieting phase is not inevitable. With a sensible caloric deficit and avoidance of extreme low body fat levels, you can maintain, or even build, muscle mass. For those concerned about this, consider partnering with a coach who can provide personalized training and nutrition strategies.
At BiaBody, our team of coaches offers expert guidance tailored to your goals and lifestyle. For more information and to start your journey towards a successful body transformation, click the link in the description below.
Holly T. Baxter is an Australian Dietitian with over 13 years of experience in health and fitness. She holds a degree in Food Science and Nutrition and a Master of Dietetics from Deakin University. A former professional physique athlete, Holly has two World Championship titles. Her latest project, BiaBody, is dedicated to women’s health and fitness. As an APD Dietitian and Online Physique Coach, she focuses on evidence-based health education and empowering women through fitness.