What Does It Take To Preserve Lean Muscle
Losing muscle mass is a massive waste of your time and can be severely de-motivating to your fitness journey. But unfortunately a lot of people still make this mistake. It is fact that you will indefinitely lose at least a small amount of muscle mass when you do diet down, but we can control this amount and utilise the right techniques to minimise it.
EAT HIGH PROTEIN
When you set your macros for a cut, you should be setting you protein intake to at least 1g of protein per lbs of bodyweight, if not more. There are two main reasons for increasing protein intake, with the first being that protein simply has a higher thermic effect of food meaning that your body burns more calories metabolising it. This is also why it is generally more satiating to eat protein as opposed to carbs. The second reason is that your body needs extra protein when in a caloric deficit to help refuel and recover your muscular tissue breakdown.
HIGH VOLUME AND HIGH FREQUENCY TRAINING
There has been plenty of research done to suggest that high volume training in natural athletes is necessary to preserve as well as build lean muscle mass. It's quite simple. The more you work the more you get. Most people often over-estimate whether they are “over training”, and are usually not working as hard as they think they are. Training in “high frequency” means hitting your various muscle groups more often throughout the week. So instead of doing a big chest day on Monday, it may be more beneficial to train chest with shoulders and triceps, but with slightly less volume each time and more often throughout the week. They key is that you’re now able to stimulate your chest muscles more often throughout the week leading to better gains.
Let's get things clear first. The MOST important factor in preserving lean muscle mass will be how hard you choose to cut. If you want to play it safe and try to preserve as much muscle as possible, then a slow and gradual cut is the way to go. This is the macro view. If we delve into the micro view (much less important) then we stumble onto the topic of nutrient timing. Although it is not detrimental if you don’t have a protein shake in within that 60m golden hour, as you get leaner and leaner your body will become more sensitive to these minutia details. Because of this, it may be beneficial for you to eat a quick source of carbs at least 30-60m pre-workout (for energy), and a lean protein serving at least 1-2 hours post workout (for recovery).
This one is obvious. Just like your Mom said. Your body needs rest to recover and grow. Simple as that.
This is the least important factor in preserving muscle, but it is an advantage that you should take if you really care about your muscle gains. Branch Chain Amino Acids are just a powdered supplement that you mix Inyo your water that may aid in muscular preservation and recovery. Now don’t get it twisted, they are by no means a magic pill and you will still lose muscle if you don’t take care of the other factors listed above, but BCAAs are cheap and won’t hurt you!
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