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Perfect Diet For Losing Weight Whilst Maintaining Muscle

Updated on November 27, 2019
BodystrongBen profile image

I have a masters degree in sports science and around 10 years experience in personal training and sports research.

Is it Possible to Lose Weight But Not Muscle?

For years I have trained and for years I bulked up for 7/8 months, then cut weight for 4/5 months. This always seemed like the most reasonable way to do things to me and I think most people still follow this regime. Although, it does work very well, it used to frustrate me how when i bulked I would lose my abs. On the flip side, when I cut up I would lose my muscle.

I wanted to find a lose fat not muscle diet but then I thought, can you lose fat without losing muscle? People say it’s a myth that you don’t lose muscle but due to losing so much fat and water weight, you look like you’ve lost muscle. I’m not convinced though, I think the losing muscle while cutting myth is real. Luckily after many tweaks and tries I have my diet that I now use, which allows me to cut down and keep size. Now it’s not a diet for gaining muscle, it’s a diet for maintaining muscle, whilst losing fat and trimming up. Here I have split it into the 7 meals I would have throughout the day 6 days a week, with Sunday as my cheat day.

Meal 1: Breakfast - 6:30am

50g of oats with water, 4 eggs scrambled (2 without yolks).

This is a brilliant way to start your day, it has a sufficient amount of complex carbs to slowly burn though the day. It also has a nice amount of proteins to feed your muscles after you have been you have been fasting in your sleep. It’s also low on sugar and saturated fats, which is ideal when you are trying to lose fat. I would even throw in a half or quarter scoop of chocolate whey protein just to give the oats some flavour.

Calories: 324

Protein: 24.4g

Carbohydrates: 31g

Saturated fat: 3.5g

Sugar: <1g

Source

Meal 2: Light Meal - 10:00am

1/2 cup of brown rice with a tin of tuna (in spring water), full orange for dessert.

Once again this meal complains complex carbs which is what you need when cutting up. Ideally they say to eat every 3 hours however due to clients in the morning 10:00am was my best time to eat again. No sauce unfortunately, which may not sound the nicest but it’s super healthy.

Calories: 311

Protein: 32.5g

Carbohydrates: 22.4g

Saturated fats: <1g

Sugars: 14g

Meal 3: Lunch - 1:00pm

130g of sweet potatoes, 1 medium sized chicken breast, 1 cup of broccoli and 1 cup of carrots.

To start, the 1 cup sized of vegetables are simply 1 portion each. No need to weigh the veg out, just give yourself what you think a portion of each should be. Once again sweet potato is a complex carb and the chicken is high in protein. Your vegetables are there for essential vitamins as well as added proteins. This meal again is high in protein and complex carbs but low in sugar and saturates. Unfortunately no sauce on this meal either.

Calories: 363

Protein: 37g

Carbohydrates: 46g

Saturated fat: 1g

Sugar: 13g

Meal 4 - Protein Snack - 4:00pm

Whey protein shake/ protein bar/ tin of fish/ chicken breast.

For your snack I like to give clients a choice because a snack should be something that you relatively enjoy. It has to be a high protein, no/low carbohydrate snack however. For me I would always have a whey protein shake with water, it’s easy, quick and full of protein. If proteins shakes/bars aren’t for you, then feel free to have a tin of mackerel/sardines/pilchards or a chicken/turkey breast. Note that if you have a tin of fish it should be in spring water or oil, not in tomato sauce or anything like that.

Protein shake nutrients

Calories: 154

Protein: 31g

Carbohydrates: 0g

Saturated fat: 2g

Sugar: 1.5g

Meal 5: Post Workout Shake - 5:30pm

Whey protein shake.

I would normally have worked out at around 4:00pm -5:30. I always preach to people to have a shake straight after the gym for quick release protein. It will provide a high amount of protein that your body can absorb quickly. After working out, the first hour or so your body can absorb a significant amount more protein than any other time of the day. As for the protein itself I use whey, however you can use alternate types or protein if you fancy.

Calories: 154

Protein: 31g

Carbohydrates: 0g

Saturated fat: 2g

Sugar: 1.5g

Meal 6: Dinner - 7:00pm

130g of sweet potato - 1 medium sized rump steak or 2 white fish fillets, 1/2 cup of broccoli, 1/2 cup of carrots.

Once again for this meal I have given a choice of steak or fish. For me I would always mix it up and 3 days a week have steak, 3 days a week have fish. The thing about red meat it has got a bit of a bad rep but it contains nutrients that other meat and fish doesn’t. It contains a decent amount of iron, zinc, vitamins B3, B12 and B6. The white fish on the other hand will be high in your healthy fats, it can also help improve brain function and is good for joints. That’s why I would suggest fish on some days and steak on the others. For the example nutritional value below I have used Basa fish fillets, as they are very common. Most white fish should have the same nutritional values though.

Steak dinner:

Calories: 710

Protein: 61g

Carbohydrate: 46g

Saturated fat: 12g

Sugar: 13g

Fish dinner:

Calories: 426

Protein: 52g

Carbohydrate: 46g

Saturated fat: 2.5g

Sugar: 13g

Source

Meal 7: Snack Before Bed - 9:30-10:00pm

100g of natural, low-fat cottage cheese.

Before bed it’s always nice to have something light to eat, to keep your body fuelled while you sleep. Cottage cheese is the best option as it’s full of casein protein. Casein protein is slow releasing protein, so it will keep your body fed while you fast in your sleep. It’s also low in saturated fats and sugar. Another option would be a low fat Greek yoghurt as it’s also full of casein protein. However, it will more than likely contain a fair amount of sugar, that’s why I see cottage cheese as the best option.

Calories: 84

Protein: 11g

Carbohydrates: 3.4g

Saturated fat: 1.7g

Sugar: 2.7g

Can You Gain Strength In A Calorific Deficit?

To lose weight, as in the diet above, you will need to be on a calorific deficit diet. Essentially your calorie intake will be less than the amount you are burning off. The issue with this, is people say that due to the lack of calories/energy, you will get weaker in the gyms. I’ve thought this for so long myself, however it doesn’t have to happen.

With this diet I have found although being in a deficit, the calories are substantial enough that I maintain or even gain strength. The main thing to remember is if you’re still working out and getting the adequate amount of protein, then your muscles will tear and repair properly. This should mean you can gain strength. However, certainly if you drop your calories too much or stop working out as much, you’ll struggle to gain strength.

I must state that still you will gain strength quicker if you aren’t training in a calorific deficit.

Final Quantities

Finally, here below I will show the nutritional values of your full intake consumed through the day.

Steak day:

Calories: 2100

Protein: 223g

Carbohydrates: 149g

Saturated fat: 22g

Sugars: 25.5g

Fish day:

Calories: 1816

Protein: 214g

Carbohydrates: 149g

Saturated fat: 12.5g

Sugars: 25.5g

As you can see both days are very similar. They’re both slightly below daily recommended amount of calories so the weight should fall. They both have low carbohydrate, saturates and sugar intakes, this should also make the weight come off. The high protein content is there to keep your muscles growing and repairing correctly.

Final disclaimer. This is a diet that has worked very well for me to burn off fat but maintain muscle. Although it’s a fantastic diet, it will work differently for everyone, as we’re all different. When starting this diet I was weighing in around 85kg, 22 years old and i’m a man, just to put into perspective if you’re similar build it should work brilliantly.

Thank you for reading.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Ben Smith

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