How To Prevent Muscle Wastage: Get The Right Weight Loss

muscular man in gym doing pullups
Simon Long

Simon Long

Simon is a highly experienced personal trainer and behavioural psychology expert
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In one of my other articles this week I spoke about keeping muscle whilst losing fat [link]. I wanted to expand on this point in this article as it is so essential to you and your weight loss goal. I’m going to breakdown the cause, problem and solution to muscle wasting below. Let’s begin!

What Causes A Reaction In Muscle?

There are several things that can result in you having a reduction in muscle. If the problem is caused by chronic illness, then it is called cachexia. It’s also quite common for individuals to lose muscle as they get older, which we call sarcopenia. For anybody on a weight loss goal though the problem is usually down to energy balance.

Simply put, if your trying to lose weight (your on my site sooo…..probable) then you have to be eating less calories then you burn each day. Your body has to cover this difference. So it breaks down your fat stores for the extra energy requirement. So far so good!

But the problem is your fat stores are not the only source of energy you have. They also don’t contain any protein (which your intake may be low in if you’re restricting foods). But your muscles do!! So your body breaks them down too.

Another issue is that your muscles take energy to maintain. So your body figures it might as well get rid of some. As you don’t have enough energy to go around. And it really wants to prioritise keeping your heart beating and your brain working (It’s weird like that).

Now you may well be thinking ‘So what? I want to lose weight. Weight loss is weight loss’. Well….

The Problem With Muscle Wastage

What you aren’t considering is how losing a lot of muscle will make you look. Most people would like to have a toned and defined look. But if you are wasting muscle you will be stuck with a skinny and ‘soft’ look.

You will also have less muscular strength, meaning that you will find yourself less capable and fatiguing faster. Your chance of developing osteoporosis is also increased due to the reduced pull of the tendons on your bones. As this pull makes them denser. Problems such as bad backs can also appear or become more apparent as your postural muscles are less capable of holding you up efficiently.

The big issue, looking at it from a purely weight loss angle, is that your muscles need calories to maintain themselves. Less muscle means less calorie requirement. So to keep your calorie deficit you will have to reduce your intake even more (even less fooood!!). This reduction then causes more muscle wastage. And down and down the spiral goes.

So What’s The Solution For Muscle Wastage?

The good news is you can defiantly stop muscle wastage (as long as you aren’t taking your calories under 1,200 per day). All you need to do is find some kind of exercise that you are happy to do at a moderate to high intensity.

This does not mean long slow cardio sessions (Get off the exercise bike!). These type of sessions don’t challenge your muscles enough for your body to think ‘hmm. Ok. Maybe they’re worth holding on to’. To switch this to ‘There is no possible way we can afford to lose any of this muscle’ you need to challenge them a bit.

The good news is that you aren’t limited in the type of training that you use (Ok. Get back on the exercise bike). The only thing you have to be aware of is ‘how’ you train. More challenging exercise takes your ability closer to its peak. It sounds like too much effort. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact it allows a reduction in workout length. Use high intensity interval training. You can see my break down of using it below:

In addition to the exercise you need to watch two factors of your diet. Number 1 is your total calorie intake. If you drop it below 1200 then you will still find muscle atrophy occurs. Number 2 is your protein intake. If it falls below 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, then you’re going to have a protein deficit. Your body will cover this by breaking down your biggest protein store. Which is your muscles.

You can work out your protein requirements easily by doing:

Your weight in KGs x 0.8 = The grams of protein you need per day.

If you only know your weight in pounds, then divide it by 2.2 to get your weight in kilos. If you only know your weight in stone, then use this convertor.

By focusing on these 3 points you will lose more fat, look more toned and stop the risk of any of the associated health issues from losing weight. If this article has raised any questions, then just give me a shout. For more top tips such as these, follow me on my Youtube channel. I upload videos every single day. You can find more articles on my Facebook page.

So. I hope that’s helped you become more knowledgeable in how to reach your goal.

I’ll see you soon. But in the meantime look after yourself and have a great day!

All the best,