How Much Muscle Do You Lose When Cutting? Everything You Need To Know
If you have been lifting weights and working out for a while, you may have thought about “cutting” at some point, to lose some weight and essentially body fat.
With this in mind, you may be wondering – How much muscle do you lose when cutting?
There are a few things you must understand to cut successfully and not lose all your gains.
How much muscle do you lose when cutting?
Most people who are interested in cutting (i.e. losing fat while preserving muscle) want to know how much muscle they can expect to lose during the process. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question since there are many factors that can affect muscle loss during a cut. Some of the most important factors include diet, exercise, genetics, age, and gender. For example, someone who is on a very strict diet and does not exercise regularly is likely to lose more muscle than someone who is eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly. Additionally, older individuals tend to lose muscle more easily than younger individuals, and men typically lose less muscle than women during a cut.
Knowing some important factors when cutting can help you lose weight while preserving muscle.
It’s finding that optimum balance point for you since everyone is different, so let’s look at how much muscle you lose when cutting and how to make the most of it.
Nutrition is key
You need to eat enough protein when cutting. If you don’t, your body will start to break down muscle for energy instead of using stored body fat.
How much protein you need depends on your weight, but a good rule of thumb is to consume 0.7-1 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
So, if you weigh 175 pounds, you should be eating at least 122 grams of protein per day.
Get enough calories
In order to lose fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit, which means you’re eating fewer calories than your body needs.
However, if you create too big of a deficit, your body will start breaking down muscle for energy instead of using stored body fat.
How many calories you need depends on your weight, activity level, and goals. A good starting point is to eat 500 calories less than your maintenance level.
If you’re not sure how many calories you need, several online calculators can help you estimate your maintenance level.
While diet is the most important factor for cutting, exercise is also key. Not only will it help you burn more calories, but it will also help you maintain muscle mass.
Aim to exercise 3-5 times per week, or for the same amount of sessions you did before the cutting started, and make sure to include both cardio and strength training.
It would be advised to do more strength training than cardio since it will help you maintain muscle mass.
When you’re trying to preserve muscle, it’s important to keep lifting in the hypertrophic range.
This means lifting heavy enough that you can only do 4-10 reps per set. Any more than that and you’re likely not lifting heavy enough.
Additionally, make sure to rest for 3-5 minutes between sets so that you can fully recover.
Use progressive overload
Progressive overload is when you gradually increase the amount of weight you’re lifting over time.
This is important because it will help you maintain muscle mass while cutting. If you don’t progressively overload, your body will have no reason to hold onto muscle since it doesn’t need it for daily activities.
To progressively overload, you can either increase the weight you’re lifting, the number of reps you’re doing, or the number of sets you’re doing.
Ideally, you should be aiming to increase at least one of these variables every week or two.
Related: Is Progressive Overload Important On A Calorie Deficit? (4 Things To Achieve Maximum Overload)
Caffeine can help you lose fat by increasing your metabolism and making you feel less hungry.
Additionally, caffeine can help you workout harder and longer by delaying fatigue.
If you’re going to use caffeine, it’s best to consume it before workouts so that it doesn’t interfere with your sleep.
Green tea is a type of tea that is rich in antioxidants, which can help protect your cells from damage.
Additionally, green tea has been shown to increase fat burning and boost metabolism.
If you want to include green tea in your cut, aim to drink 3-5 cups per day. You can also take green tea supplements if you don’t like the taste of tea.
Genetics play a role
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question since there are many factors that can affect muscle loss during a cut.
Some of the most important factors include diet, exercise, genetics, age, and gender.
Someone who is on a very strict diet and does not exercise regularly is likely to lose more muscle than someone who is eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly.
Additionally, genetics play a role in how much muscle you can expect to lose during a cut.
If you have a history of muscle loss in your family, you may be more likely to experience it yourself.
Age and gender also play a role in muscle loss. As you get older, it becomes more difficult to maintain muscle mass.
And, women tend to lose less muscle than men when cutting.
This is because they have less testosterone, which is the hormone responsible for building muscle.
When you’re cutting, it’s important to pay attention to your macronutrient intake.
This is because your body needs a certain amount of each macronutrient – carbs, protein, and fat – to function properly.
If you’re not eating enough of one or more of these macronutrients, it can lead to muscle loss.
Protein is the most important macronutrient for preserving muscle mass.
When you’re cutting, aim to consume 0.8-1 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. This will help you maintain muscle while losing fat.
Additionally, make sure to eat plenty of carbs and fat.
Carbs are important for energy and fat is important for hormone production.
If you’re not eating enough of either of these macronutrients, it can lead to fatigue, which can make it more difficult to workout hard and preserve muscle mass.
How much muscle you lose when cutting also depends on your metabolism.
If you have a fast metabolism, you’re more likely to lose muscle while cutting.
This is because your body burns through calories quickly, so it has to rely on muscle for energy.
On the other hand, if you have a slow metabolism, you’re less likely to lose muscle while cutting.
This is because your body burns through calories slowly, so it doesn’t have to rely on muscle for energy as much.
There are a few things you can do to increase your metabolism, such as eating more small meals throughout the day and doing HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts.
Cutting is not easy, but it is possible to lose fat without losing muscle.
The key is to focus on the factors that you can control, such as diet, exercise, and macros.
If you do this, you’ll be well on your way to preserving muscle mass while cutting fat.
If you have a higher percentage of muscle, you’re less likely to lose it while cutting.
This is because muscle is more dense than fat, so it takes up less space in your body.
Additionally, muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so it burns more calories even at rest.
However, if you have a lower percentage of muscle, you’re more likely to lose it while cutting.
So it makes sense for you to put on some considerable mass before you make the decision to start cutting.
Cutting takes time
If you want to lose fat without losing muscle, you need to be patient. It takes time to lose weight, and you won’t see results overnight.
You also need to be consistent with your diet and exercise routine. If you’re not, you won’t see the results you want.
If you’re patient and consistent, you’ll eventually reach your goals. And, if you focus on the factors that you can control, like diet and exercise, you’ll be more likely to lose fat without losing muscle.
Most people cut for 8-12 weeks.
This is a good amount of time to lose fat without losing muscle.
If you want to cut for longer, you can, but be aware that the longer you cut, the more likely you are to lose muscle.
If you are going to cut, make sure you decide on how long you are going to cut before you start. This will help you stay on track and avoid losing muscle.
Track progress and modify diet if required
As you’re cutting, it’s important to track your progress and make sure you’re losing fat and not muscle.
The best way to do this is to use body composition measurements, such as skinfold callipers or DEXA scans.
If you see that you’re losing muscle and not fat, modify your diet and exercise routine accordingly.
What actual percentage of muscle can be lost?
The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors, as mentioned above.
However, most people can expect to lose 2-5% of their muscle mass when cutting.
This may not seem like much, but it can make a big difference in your appearance and strength.
How big should the deficit be?
The best way to lose fat without losing muscle is to create a gradual calorie deficit.
This means that you should slowly reduce your calorie intake over time.
For example, if you’re eating 2,000 calories per day, you could reduce your intake by 250 calories every week.
This would give you a deficit of 1,000 calories per week, which is a good amount for fat loss without muscle loss.
Additionally, when you create a gradual deficit, it’s easier to stick to your diet and exercise routine.
If you try to lose weight too quickly, you’re more likely to give up and regain the weight you lost.
A gradual deficit is the best way to lose fat without losing muscle.
Some say that the larger the daily calorie deficit the higher the percentage of muscle loss, but the research does not support this claim.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the effects of two different diets on body composition.
One group followed a diet with a 500 calorie deficit, while the other group followed a diet with a 1,000 calorie deficit.
Both groups lost weight, but the group with the smaller deficit lost more fat and less muscle.
This shows that a larger calorie deficit doesn’t necessarily lead to more muscle loss.
In fact, it’s possible to lose fat and preserve muscle mass even with a large calorie deficit.
Prioritise compound exercises
Compound exercises are exercises that work multiple muscle groups at the same time.
Examples of compound exercises include squats, deadlifts, and presses.
Isolation exercises are exercises that work one muscle group at a time.
Examples of isolation exercises include bicep curls and tricep extensions.
Compound exercises are more effective for cutting because they allow you to use heavier weights and burn more calories.
Isolation exercises are less effective for cutting because they don’t allow you to use as much weight and don’t burn as many calories.
When you’re cutting, you should focus on compound exercises and limit isolation exercises.
This will help you preserve muscle mass and lose fat.
When you’re cutting, you need to be careful with your training volume.
If you do too much volume, you’re at risk of overtraining and losing muscle.
Overtraining is when you train so hard that your body can’t recover and you start to lose muscle.
To avoid overtraining, make sure you’re getting enough rest and recovery.
Rest days are just as important as training days when you’re cutting.
Additionally, make sure you’re not doing too much volume per workout.
A good rule of thumb is to do no more than 4 sets per exercise.
If you’re doing more than 4 sets per exercise, you’re at risk of overtraining.
When you’re cutting, it’s important to stay hydrated.
Water helps your body function properly and can even help you lose weight.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism looked at the effects of water intake on weight loss.
The study found that people who drank more water lost more weight than those who didn’t.
Additionally, water can help you feel full and eat less.
A study published in the Journal of Obesity looked at the effects of water on hunger and food intake.
The study found that people who drank water before meals ate fewer calories and felt fuller than those who didn’t.
Water is essential for your body to function properly and can even help you lose weight.
Make sure you’re drinking enough water every day, especially when you’re cutting.
Many factors can affect muscle loss during a cut, including diet, exercise, genetics, age, and gender.
To lose fat without losing muscle, you should focus on compound exercises, limit isolation exercises, and do no more than 4 sets per exercise.
Additionally, make sure you’re getting enough rest and recovery, and drinking plenty of water.
Muscle loss occurs when you are in a calorie deficit for an extended period and your body starts to break down muscle for energy.
So, if you want to avoid losing muscle, you need to make sure you are eating enough protein and doing resistance training regularly.
Cutting is a difficult process, but it is possible to lose fat and preserve muscle mass with the right approach.
Have you tried cutting before? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.