How To Lose Fat Not Muscle

by Caleb Lee on December 1, 2008

Read This Quick Article To See How To Lose Fat And Not Muscle

If you’re wondering how to lose fat not muscle, then you’ll want to read this article because I’ll share with you three tips to make sure you’re burning the maximum amount of fat possible… without… sacrificing your hard earned muscle!

First you’ll want to tell your body to “keep the muscle I have!” (maybe even give it the signal to build more), next you’ll do a “special” form of cardio to burn more fat than regular cardio… and finally I’ll give you some dietary guidelines to help you hang onto lean muscle while shedding the fat.

1. Strength Train To Save Your Muscle (and Build Some).

When you start to attempt to lose fat by way of dieting and increasing your activity levels, your body will want to drop some weight… what it drops (muscle or fat) depends on what types of stress you put on it.

Here’s the deal: if you do strength training your body will get the hint that it needs to keep your muscle mass in order to adapt to the demands you put on it through strength training… and burn your fat instead.

This study proves it: Effects of Resistance vs. Aerobic Training Combined With an 800 Calorie Liquid Diet on Lean Body Mass and Resting Metabolic Rate. It followed a group of men and women on a 800 calorie diet and only 80 grams of protein per day for 12 weeks. The group that did some form of strength training 3 times per week, did not lose any lean muscle mass.

So if you want to preserve the maximum amount of muscle mass while trying to lose fat, don’t forget to keep up with your strength training.

2. Do Interval Training NOT “regular” Cardio

A lot of people think of spending 45 minutes to an hour, or two, cycling, running on a treadmill, or some other such exercise when they think of “cardio”. STOP IT!

You don’t need to do that type of aerobic training to lose fat, because often you’ll be telling your body to burn your muscle mass for fuel too. Just look at a marathon runner… and compare their physique to an olympic sprinter… which would you rather look like?

Do interval training to lose fat instead, and you’ll also preserve that hard-earned muscle.

3. Eat Less…

Of course, you’ll need to eat less total calories all day in order to lose fat. But here’s the thing: if you’re eating clean like I recommend you can actually feel like you’re stuffing yourself and still be eating “low calorie”.

Why? Because most clean food is not very calorie dense. You’d have to eat your weight in salads for example in order to gain fat. You’d have to eat a whole chicken almost to get too many protein calories.

If you eat the way I recommend, you’ll be focusing on clean, organic foods which don’t promote a high insulin response (low GI index)… high in protein (with a corresponding high Thermic effect meaning your body will use more calories to digest them)… and finally, if you take up intermittent fasting — you can eat almost all you want in one sitting and still lose weight (because you’re only eating for a few hours out of the day).

Cut out sodas, don’t drink anything but water, coffee or tea and you’ll effortlessly cut calories from your diet and start losing fat.

And if you follow the other two tips in this article it will be easy for you to lose fat not muscle.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Mateo Campos March 26, 2009 at 3:48 pm

I just started training some months ago and I really like working out.
My goal is to get a big body maybe not so ripped but BIG.
I work out Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I run like half an hour: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
My rest day is Sunday.
When I go to the gym, I work out all of the muscles and when I run, I do some sprints but generally I do long runs.

I eat like a horse (obviously I follow a healthy diet), I eat 5 or 6 days a day.
I quited drinking sodas, and alcohol. I don’t smoke and I try to go to bed early.

Some advice?


Caleb Lee March 26, 2009 at 11:01 pm

@ Mateo: you actually sound like you’re doing a good job. Keep it up, and keep eating if you want to get big :)


shoot 3s write beats fts May 17, 2009 at 8:12 am

-stick to low glycemic carbs

and/or monitor how much sugar is in ur blood. for instance, eating a slice of cake will spike ur sugar levels above how many calories ur body will burn in the digestion period which will convert the sugar to body fat.

-eat ur proteins

load up on 50 to 100 percent of ur body weight in proteins to maintain and build muscle. if u don’t get ur proteins for the day ur body will consume its own muscle tissue to get proteins. its not going to get proteins from belly fat.

-get ur cardio

cardio increases ur metabolism throughout the day and therefore if u consume less calories than u burn its gonna come from fat or proteins.


Teenage Dream February 13, 2011 at 2:48 pm

make that 100% to 150%. you dont absorb every grab you digest. if you eat a ball of 200 grams of protein you will probably only digest 30-40 grams of it.


Mark January 29, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Mateo, You did not say how old you are….how old are you? Also so remember muscle helps burns fat. So lift hard…..Also how long have you been lifting? It sounds like you are a hard gainer all these things play a part. Big mistake is over training you need to let you body recover to GROW.


Caleb_Lee February 1, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Good point Mark! Gotta eat and rest to grow :)


ali June 29, 2010 at 1:46 am

I've had posterior tibials tendonities for the past two months.. i've gained 20lbs but i watch what I eat (basically protein and fruit/veggies and protein shakes), and strength train everyday. I was doing the elliptical and biking before that got taken away from me.. how can i lose this stubborn belly fat w/o the cardio?. What is a good food plan?.. Prior to injury, I would do interval training 3-4x a week, and total body stretngth train 3x a week, as well as have college soccer practice.


Caleb_Lee July 7, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Eat less. That's gonna do the best for you to be honest.


Serhat December 7, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Hey Caleb,
Why do you prefer strength training over hypertrophy training to preserve muscle mass?


Caleb_Lee December 9, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Either one is fine, but if you're in a calorie defiict because of your diet, then the least amount of workout for the most results is what you want to do. High tension, low reps, low-medium volume is plenty for preserving muscle … rather than doing lots of volume, mid-high reps, longer hypertrophy training style workouts. Make sense?


Helen December 17, 2010 at 3:57 am

I am weight training and doing interval training on a stationery bike. My body is definitely firming up, but I am not losing fat or inches, in fact have gained on the hips and thights I am a 49 year old female. What am I doing wrong?


Caleb_Lee December 18, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Most likely diet, without knowing more, Helen — keep it up!


Rose February 8, 2011 at 8:15 am

ok – I'm a 60 year old female who has read so many things on the net about training and eating correctly from so many people with different views! It's confusing!
Here's my thing, I'm 5ft 10 in and weigh 91.4kg. I was 93.5kg about 2 months ago when I went to a naturopath to give me to some guidance. I've been walking to and from work 2 days per week (5kilometers) and going to the gym periodically and doing a 20min bike interval training (as per Dr Sears method) and doing 30 leg presses of say 170kg and some upper body work.
I went to the naturopath today and she does some sort of a body scan that shows fat, muscle and water content (among other things). What it showed that 95% of the weight I lost was muscle. and my fat content as actually gone up a little. I don't think that is good.
I'm a clean eater but don't eat lots (I had a stomach banding operation 20 odd years ago and just have never regained an appetite).
What can anyone reading this suggest.


Caleb_Lee February 11, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Hi Rose,

What type of device did she use to measure your body composition?

Did you hold it in your hands, outstretched from you? If so, those are VERY unreliable.

The only reliable methods out there are 1.) underwater weighing and 2.) Bod Pod testing.

I'm going to do a post about this soon,



Nancy February 21, 2011 at 1:55 am

I'm 48, female, torn up knee. I recently discovered hypothyroidism started on cytomel losing weight well now. But more lean than fat. I eat mostly protein diet with some veges, fruit and dairy. I usually skip dinner to save calories. I do no exercise now but can do anything but knee involvement. I've lost 23.5 pounds but my body fat only went from 33.2 to 32.6 because of the lean loss. I'm only 5'3" but always have had a heavy lean mass, large boned. Right now 103lbs lean 50 lbs fat. What do you suggest?
Thanks Nancy


Caleb_Lee March 6, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Skip breakfast and lunch instead, eating a bigger dinner, lemme know how that goes,


Anthony May 17, 2011 at 6:59 am

Hey Caleb

Thank you so much for this article, really made me think. But i have a question.

You said that when you do interval training to burn the fat you should also continue doing weight lifting as well so you won't lose muscle. so the question is, do i do both interval training and weight lifting on the same day and also straight after my interval training? Won't the interval training tire me out so much that i can't even do weights?

and also, do i lift the same amount of weight as before, when i didn't do interval training? or should i cut down to some lighter weights?

Thank you so much for your time and i hope that this wasn't too much of a hassle to answer :)

-Hope to get ripped soon :)


Caleb_Lee July 9, 2011 at 3:54 pm

intervals on different day or AFTER weights. Weight training always goes first.


shayla September 16, 2011 at 7:45 am

im 5'3 female thats 152 pounds.My stomach is where my fat love to go.It dont look right on my shape.Im trying to body train for bigger glutes but I dont I dont know how to lose my stomach without messing up my glute building routine.


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