How To Lose Fat Not Muscle – 3 Essential Rules

By | February 8, 2015

How To Lose Fat Not Muscle – 3 Essential Rules

So you’re just finished your bulking phase and you’ve gained some belly. That’s totally fine and normal but now you have to know how to lose fat not muscle because nobody of us wants to lose those hard earned gains.

Building muscle is way more time consuming and difficult than burning fat. To gain muscle one has to work hard and consistent over the course of months and years. Burning fat can be done relatively quick but there is couple important points to consider.

The #1 mistake what people do when they want to shed excess fat is that they try to lose it too fast. When you want to preserve the muscle you’ve been working on for long time you want to cut fat at a gradual phase. If you try to burn the fat off too fast you will end up losing your muscle in the process.

So here are the 3 most important points to lose fat not muscle while cutting:

#1 Calorie Deficitsteak

Burning fat requires you to be in a calorie deficit. This basically means consuming less calories than you spend. Like mentioned above it’s not a good idea to restrict your caloric intake too much. A good idea is to drop down your caloric maintenance level by 15-20% to ensure efficient fat burning while preserving muscle. To figure out your caloric maintenance level use the Harris-Benedict Formula found HERE! By restricting your calories by 15-20% you’ll end up losing fat about 1-2 pounds per week.

#2 Weight Training Routinebench

One crucial mistake people make when they go into a fat burning phase after building is that they’ll change up their workout routine to light weights and higher reps. This is completely counterproductive since you have to try and keep your strength levels up so you’ll give your body a signal that the muscle needs to be kept. Just keep training with the same workout routine you’ve been doing and stick to low to moderate repetitions and heavy workloads. The truth is that some of your lifts will suffer a little bit in strength but this is normal and nothing to worry about. This changing to light weights and higher repetitions probably comes from the spot reduction myth that if you do very specific exercises to the places where you have the most fat you’ll target the muscle and it burns the fat around it faster. This simply isn’t true as fat loss is occuring all over your body and your genetics will determine which parts will lose the fat first and last as your body fat percent reduces.

#3 Cardiocardio

The third important point is to not go overboard with cardio. Cardio is very effective fat burning tool to implement but you should not do it more than 2-4 times a week. Stick with High Intensity Interval Training to get the best fat burning and muscle preserving effects. HIIT is great because studies have shown that it burns fat a long time even after you’ve finished your exercises and it’s shown to preserve lean muscle mass and HIIT workouts take a lot less time to get the fat burning effects compared to steady state cardio. One real life example of this is to compare sprinters to long distance runners. There is quite a difference in the physique of those two and sprinters spend all of their time doing High Intensity Interval Training working their explosiveness on the track by sprinting and strength in the form of heavy ass lifting in the gym.


All in all burning fat and preserving your muscle is not that complex. You’ll just have to resist the urge to cut too fast. Start with the 15-20% calorie deficit and keep working out just as you were before. Do this as long as you keep dropping that weight. You might to get your goal fat percentage by just doing this. If you want to get even leaner, then when the fat loss stalls you can start implementing High Intensity Interval Cardio couple times a week and continue it as long as you reach your ideal body fat percentage.

Try these three principles out and I’ll guarantee you’ll experience an effective fat loss phase.

Let’s recap the important points once more:

  • Don’t try to cut too fast
  • Calorie deficit of 15-20% is enough
  • Don’t change your weight training routine
  • Don’t go overboard with cardio

Did you find this article helpful? I’d love to hear your suggestions or opinions! Leave a comment down below and let me know what you think.

Remember to train hard and train SMART!

14 thoughts on “How To Lose Fat Not Muscle – 3 Essential Rules

  1. Ed

    Hi Jesse,

    First off great article. I’ve been trying to loose this spare tire around my waist for some time now. It’s not like a truck tire, more like a bicycle tire. I’ve tried every thing. Now I’ve cut all my sugars and even most of my carbs, but still not much luck. I don’t have a great six pack but I don’t want to lose what I have. So how do I lose Fat Not Muscle around my waist? Cheers

    1. Jesse Post author

      Do not cut all of your carbs out at once, this will mess up with your metabolism and hinder your bodys ability to shed fat. The success to efficient fat loss is to do it gradually. Like mentioned in the post figure out your Maintenance Calories (#1 part of the post) then reduce them 15-20% and to your macros keep your protein as it is and reduce the 15-20% from fat and carbohydrates.

  2. Robert Buchanan

    Great article. A person does still have to still have to keep up on there workout routine.

  3. Steve

    Thanks for this. Has made a lot of things clear now as to why I was working out but just actually not building anything ( I’m naturally slim and am trying to build muscle mass). Awesome! You’ve pointed me in the right direction 😉

  4. Ty Jord

    Great article and easy to follow, I’ve got a few friends that could find use for the info you’ve posted, will point them your way. Thanks for sharing.


    1. Jesse Post author

      Thanks a lot Jord! I hope they’ll find the information here helpful 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.