SQUAD Programming is now LIVE - Start Your FREE 7 Day Trial Today


Evidence-based articles & blogs to help with making training more effective, nutrition more flexible & life more enjoyable.


Avoid Losing Muscle When Dieting

You don’t need to sign up to a spin class or spend hours on the treadmill. In fact, there is almost zero correlation between how much you sweat and how much weight you lose. Because losing weight mostly comes down to your diet. But…

This might sound crazy, but here goes:

To lose weight, you don’t need to exercise at all.

You don’t need to do:

HIIT; or

LISS; or

Powerlifting; or


You don’t need to sign up to a spin class or spend hours on the treadmill.

In fact, there is almost zero correlation between how much you sweat and how much weight you lose.

Because losing weight mostly comes down to your diet.


Do you want to lose weight or fat?

If you’re not dieting and training the right way, a chunk of your weight loss will be muscle, instead of fat.

You might think “that’s okay, I don’t care about muscle”...

Trust me, you do.

The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism is, the easier it is for you to keep losing fat.

In fact, the more muscle you have, the longer you live.

Crazy, right?

Muscle is like oxygen - it’s pretty important.

So how do you make sure you keep your muscle, even during a fat loss phase?

Number One: Stop doing cardio.

Cardio kills your gains.

I’m joking - you can do cardio if you like it. You weirdo. 

#1: Lift Weights

In this study the participants were split into two groups.

One group did cardio.

The other lifted weights.

Everyone ate 800 calories per day - that’s awful, I know.

Everyone lost weight (of course they did, 800 calories per day is madness).


The group that did cardio lost 8 lbs of lean mass, on average.

The group that lifted weights gained 2 lbs of lean mass.

They made gains eating 800 calories per day, just from lifting weights!

But what if you don’t want to get too “bulky”?

What if you just want that “toned” look?

As someone who has spent almost two decades trying to get “too bulky”…

Take it from me. It won’t happen by accident.

Not lifting weights because you’re scared of getting ‘too bulky’ is kind of like never getting your driver's licence, just in case you accidentally become a Formula 1 Driver. 

It won’t happen by accident.

That “toned” look you want?

That’s achieved from having a decent level of muscle, and low body fat. Not Zumba, or pilates.

You NEED to be lifting weights - especially when trying to lose fat.

#2: Stop Crash Dieting.

I know it’s so tempting when you figure out the ONLY thing that matters for weight loss is calories.

Not carbs or HIIT or LISS or “being in the fat burning zone” or fasting or getting into ketosis or any of that other bullsh*t.

It’s just calories.

But if a calorie calculator tells you you’ll lose weight on 2000 calories, and you try it for a week and it’s working…

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking “you know what, if I’m losing this much weight on 2000 calories, imagine what would happen if I went to 1000!”

That’s a recipe for feeling awful, suppressing your metabolism, having no energy to train, losing muscle and therefore making your diet harder down the line.

The goal of dieting isn’t to eat as little food as possible. 

The goal is dieting to eat as MUCH food as possible whilst still losing weight at an appropriate rate.

So what’s an appropriate rate of loss?

0.5-1% of your bodyweight per week.

For most people that will translate to a 300-700 daily calorie deficit, below their maintenance.

#3: Eat Enough Protein

You know how fat loss is just calories in vs. calories out?

Muscle is kind of the same:

Muscle protein synthesis vs. muscle protein breakdown.

We can increase muscle protein synthesis by - you guessed it - lifting weights.

And also by eating enough protein.

You could do an entire PhD and still not have a conclusive number as to how much protein you should eat each day.

Keep it simple - go with 1g per lb or 2g per kilo of bodyweight.

If you’ve got a lot of weight to lose, use 1g per lb of goal bodyweight or 1g per cm in height.

You’ll notice they roughly work out about the same.

So now you know how important strength training is…

You’re going to need a programme.

There’s thousands (maybe millions?) of programmes on the internet.

Chances are, if you’ve read this far, you trust us to provide you with the best fitness information on the internet.

If you want access to our most successful strength training programmes for building strength and gaining muscle in the areas you *actually* want to

You’ll find them within our private community: Fat Loss Hacks For Frustrated Dieters.

Before you ask, yes it’s completely free.

We’ll see you in there!