How to Lose Muscle While Dieting
Found a great article that is providing me some comfort with figuring out what the hell I’m doing right and/or wrong! Take a look!
How To Lose Muscle While Dieting
I remember the first time I decided to diet down. It was during my freshman year in college; about 15 of us guys put our money in a pot and agreed that the winner, second and third place would walk away with some money. We agreed on selecting random judges to determine our “best body contest” winner. I still laugh at what we all went through but I learned a lot about altering one’s body composition as a result. Oh, and I screwed up a ton.
So What Did I Do?
I dieted for about 16 weeks and got the leanest I have ever been in my life. I made some major mistakes though. I did too much cardio, trained too frequently and with too much volume, didn’t eat enough protein. Did I mention I ran too much?
I did just about everything the wrong way.
Before Class: 45 minutes to an hour of fasted cardio on the treadmill/elliptical
Breakfast: Lots of egg whites and oatmeal
More Cardio: Lots of walking between classes and the cafeteria (I was eating 5-6x per day)
After Class: Hit the gym and do a high rep bro split
Dinner: no carbs after 7 pm, because that makes you fat and stuff
Bed Time: never at a decent hour(then wake up and do it all over again)
How Did I Fail?
I failed in almost every way possible. I was doing way too much volume to be in a kcal deficit. Heck, I was doing too much volume, period. My workouts were long and the cardio was severely cutting into my recovery. Every workout I got weaker. My CNS was taxed and I needed some serious rest but in my mind I would only get fat if I took a few days off. Boy did I have a lot to learn.
So, after I dropped a good 30lbs of fat and muscle, I was weaker, thinner and leaner. However, I was actually in the best shape of my life. I was sub 10% body fat and could run 5 miles without ceasing. This was the first time I had ever seen a full row of abs (on my own body) in my entire life. As a result, I ended up half naked in a room with 15 other guys, flexing and posing in front of some dudes I have never met. I got second place, won 300 dollars and got to eat some real food that night. We went to Denny’s and proceeded to eat everything on the menu (I might add this is typical post-contest behavior of the neurotic bodybuilding population).
Needless to say the attention I got for my accomplishment was quite flattering but this was the beginning of an unhealthy obsession with my body composition and a nasty relationship with food.
The Downward Spiral
I swear, dieting down for the first time was both a curse and a blessing. The blessing was that I learned a ton about how not to do all of this body recomposition stuff. I learned that too much volume will eventually run you into the ground. Too much cardio is a good way to burn out really quickly and skimping on the protein is a surefire way to lose muscle mass.
The rest of the spring semester I over exercised and spun my wheels. I continued doing a ton of cardio for fear of getting fat again. I was obsessed with being able to take my shirt off to reveal the washboard stomach I was sporting. My training suffered though. This continued all the way through the summer.
I eventually pulled my head out of my ass and found a mentor. I handed over my training to him and began making progress again. Later, after my training was back on par, I developed some issues with food and social eating. I cover a lot of what I went through in my meal frequency article.
So What Could I Have Done Differently?
I should have trained no more than 2-3x per week. My workouts should have been brief and intense whilst working in the 5-6 rep ranges. It would have been smart to focus on maintaining the weight on the bar as opposed to doing a lot of high rep pump work all the while getting weaker. Cardio could have been kept to a maximum of 2x per week as I was walking everywhere; I walked to class, the store, the bar etc.
Since I wasn’t counting calories at all, I should have focused on more lean protein and fruits/veggies as opposed to all the pasta and bread I was eating. I am not saying those foods are bad or anything but I definitely could’ve used more protein considering my training. I probably wasn’t even getting 1g/lb of protein during this disaster of a diet. No wonder I lost strength and mass.
So now that I have told you exactly how to lose a lot of muscle mass while dieting, in the next installment I will explain exactly how not to lose of your muscle mass while dropping body fat. Stay tuned.