How To Lose Fat Without Losing Muscles

Akash Sehrawat

4 min read | Jan 28, 2016

This article’s main focus is on how you can conserve lean muscle while losing fat. If you want to know how to lose fat, read this article.


Related Article: How To Lose Fat | In Five Simple Steps


Many people focus on the weight on a scale, and if the weight is going down fast enough, they think they are doing a good job. Are you sure, though? You might just be losing water (70% of your body is water), bone mass, or organ weight!


Many weight loss programs promote restricting calories and prolonged cardio-only sessions for faster results. The result, though, is that one not only loses a lot of muscle mass but health deteriorates as well.


When engaging in any weight (fat) loss program, it is imperative to focus on reducing only the adipose tissue (fat) and nothing else.


How To Lose Fat And Preserve Muscle | Five Critical Things


1) Consume 1.4-2.0g Of Protein/Kg Of Body Weight When Trying To Lose Body Fat


To know more about how much protein one needs every day for the best results.


Related Article: How Much Protein Should I Eat Per Day?


2) Weight Training 2-3 Times Per Week


Weight training builds muscle, and building muscle burns fat at a higher rate. Muscles are catabolically more active tissues than fat, meaning they need more energy to survive. So if one gains 10 lbs of muscle, he will burn roughly 50-70 extra calories per day without moving.


Isn’t that awesome?


Besides, weight training has an EPOC (Energy post-oxygen consumption) effect and can boost your metabolism for up to 16 hours (sometimes even more, depending on the intensity of your workouts). This added advantage of elevated metabolism results in more calorie burns without doing anything! 1


3) Lose Fat Slowly


Most experts suggest that you can lose between one and two pounds of fat per week. When starting any weight loss program, losing up to 2 lbs in a week is fine, but as you progress, the body’s natural defenses kick in.


The body loves fat; that’s how we are genetically built, so eat only slightly less than your total daily energy expenditure, or TDEE (10-20% less at most).


However, there are certain individuals blessed with good genetics who can keep losing fat at a higher rate without losing muscles. So keep an eye on your muscle mass to ensure you are not losing too much.


Related Article: How To Lose Body Fat | How Much Can You Lose In A Month?


4) Forget About Long, Boring, Low-Intensity Cardio; Do HIIT Instead


Consider this: Trapp et al. conducted a study in which young women performed HIIT for 15 weeks with 3-20 minute sessions per week.


HIIT consisted of an 8-second sprint followed by 12 seconds of low-intensity cycling, repeated for 20 minutes. Another group of women carried out an aerobic cycling protocol for 40 minutes for each session. 2


Related Article: HIIT Or Steady State Cardio?


Results showed that women in the HIIT group lost 2.5 kg subcutaneous fat, whereas no change occurred with steady-state aerobic exercise. Fat loss over 15 weeks of HIIT was attained with 50% less exercise time and a similar energy expenditure to that of steady-state exercise.


5) Don’t Try To Build Muscles At The Same Time


Many experts claim that it’s possible to build muscle and lose fat at the same time. In a few cases, this might be true, especially when you are a beginner.


Related Article: Weekly Gym Workout Schedule For Beginners


Many ectomorphs fear losing fat might eat up their muscles, but it’s not the case. Fat is like cotton, and muscle is like a piece of iron. When you lose fat, you become smaller but toned. Psychologically it can play havoc on the mind of a skinny guy who doesn’t have enough muscles to show when his body fat drops below 15%.


I have suffered from this mental agony time and time again, and as a result, I started to eat more, thinking I might lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. But, in the end, eating more only hindered the process of losing fat.


So, focus on one thing at a time-either fat loss or muscle gain-and you will reach your goals faster. I always advise that before you think about gaining muscles, your body fat should be less than 15% and ideally around 12%.


Gaining muscles requires you to eat more than your TDEE, and a little bit of fat gain, in that case, is acceptable.


Related Article: Ultimate Guide On How To Gain Weight | The Right Way


How To Know If Your Weight Loss Is Fat Loss


Bio-electrical impedance is a pretty decent way to analyze your fat levels. Fat calipers can help too. However, I personally get a pretty good idea of whether I am losing fat without losing muscles by closely observing how my clothes fit.


If my shirt is not getting lost around my shoulders, I know I am not losing muscles. And if my trousers are getting loose, I am definitely losing fat.


Another indicator that you might be losing muscles is to watch your strength in the weight room closely. I work very hard to make sure my strength doesn’t decrease. Since I weight train only 2 or 3 times per week, I am quite charged up for my workouts and give 110% every time.


Related Article: 6 Awesome Benefits Of Working Out 3 Times A Week Using Fabulous Body (FBX) Workout Routines


Observing changes in the fat on my face is also another indicator. (I never said I was not vain.) Once I see my jawline getting more defined, my face starts to get more angular; I am positive I am on the right track.


I see a majority of people measuring their weight almost every other day, which I believe is futile. By weight, 70% of your body is water; water loss or gain can make a difference of a few pounds.




Don’t lose your hard-earned muscles while cutting (losing fat). Make sure to follow the five points above to the T. If you don’t measure, adjust, and improve accordingly, you may not see success.

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About Akash Sehrawat

Akash is a creator of 25+ programs and certificate courses in which more than 200,000 students have enrolled both on Udemy and Fabulous Body's native platform. Akash is also an author of three books that can be found on Amazon. His answers on Quora have gathered more than 12 million views in less than a year.


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Sunil Tripathy
Sunil Tripathy
6 years ago

I am 178 Cms. 3 years ago I was 90 Kg. (26 Kg Fat & 28 Kg Muscle) These were measured by a Bio-electrical impedance instrument (Omron HBF-375) Now I am 71 Kg. (12.5 Kg Fat & 26 Kg Muscle with the same instrument) A year ago when I become somewhat fit, started resistance training in gym. Increased dead lift from merely 40 Kg to 140 Kg, barbel squat from 20 Kg to 90 Kg. I want to say that I have definitely gained strength, but no increase in muscle. I am following you for last 6 months, I have achieved a lot (able to do a hand stand even) but don’t not look any different than a year ago. Unable to reduce the fat beyond 17%. Please help.

Akash Sehrawat
Akash Sehrawat
Reply to  Sunil Tripathy
6 years ago

Hey Sunil,
Sory for the late reply, I have just changed the where I get notifications of these emails…will be able to respond quickly now…

Your progress and transformation are commendable, congratulations! let me also point towards the fact that in the process of reducing almost 19 kg of fat (which is a lottttt…imagine 19 kg cans of ghee)…is out of your body….and there is an only marginal loss in muscle mass loss…you should be pleased with that…

Now…having said that…the bio electrical numbers are usually off: read this post for more details:
You said you have gained strength, how many reps are you doing for these lifts? Usually one should target at least 5 reps. I suggest a range of 5-7 most months of the year and a variation of 8-10 for few months. Since you have lost lot of weight your body will resist losing more. I would recommend you try and eat maintenance calories for few weeks until you have stablized your weight. After which you can start losing fat and building muscle at the same time. I also recommend to give intermittent fasting, and eating your carbs around your workouts for maximal benefits.

Sunil Tripathy
Sunil Tripathy
Reply to  Akash Sehrawat
6 years ago

I normally add weights to existing at 15 days interval. Add 4 Kgs and reduce to 6 reps and try to increase to 12 reps within that 15 days. (Is it the reason) I strictly do weights for 3 alternate days in a week. I have been maintaining a 71 to 73 Kg weight with a BMR of 1700 cal for last 1 year. I also maintain a diet of around 2000 Cal. On a rough estimate I must be spending 2500 Cal/day (45 mins weights or stretch, HIIT etc.) I followed Keto diet for 3 months but didn’t got the result. Hope this intermittent fasting may do wonders for me.

Akash Sehrawat
Akash Sehrawat
Reply to  Sunil Tripathy
6 years ago

Sunil your rep range is fine. 10 rep is I feel is good for upper body and you can go upto 12 for legs. if you are maintaining 500 deficit you should be losing 1 lb/wk. However weight loss is not linear and many time people do enter into a plateau.

Keto diet is something that is super tough to follow especially for us indians. We have carbs in literally everything! I also tried but failed. Moderate carb between 100-150 g is good enough. Try and change your HIIT’s format to sprint, mix things up with your weight training–like lower reps, workout order for muscle group and do include more walking and standing in your lifestyle…I.F. is amazing….it works so well for me and millions around the world, I hope it works for you too….

Sunil Tripathy
Sunil Tripathy
Reply to  Akash Sehrawat
6 years ago

Thanks for your advice. I am going to start IF in 18/6. I will update the progress definitely.

Akash Sehrawat
Akash Sehrawat
Reply to  Sunil Tripathy
6 years ago

Sure Sunil. Keep me updated. All the best.

Suka Deva
Suka Deva
6 years ago

Akash ji namaskar. I am from the old school base of desi style fitness. I really appreciate the way you elaborate with a blend of east and west fusion.

After 7 years of desi style fitness with tinge of west training I found not so much improvement in all front except good base foundation. Thanks for your mail.
I am a conservative desi and very concern for vegetarian food only. This ON Gold standard 100% whey protein is ok for vegetarian? Indian version with green dot but US or U.K. Version is without green dot. Doesn’t it contain egg protein? Hope you may enlighten me. Thank you.

Akash Sehrawat
Akash Sehrawat
Reply to  Suka Deva
6 years ago

Dear Suka Deva, Thank you for your comment! Whey protein is either concentrate or isolate. It wont have egg protein, unless otherwise stated. My benchmarks for whey protein are high and most companies dont stick with it. Check this out:

Let me know if you need more help. All the best:)
4 years ago

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4 years ago

I was just looking for this info for a while. After 6 hours of continuous Googleing, finally I got it in your web site. I wonder what’s the lack of Google strategy that do not rank this type of informative websites in top of the list. Generally the top web sites are full of garbage.

3 years ago

Thank you very much for the invitation :). Best wishes.
PS: How are you? I am from France 🙂