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How to lose fat without losing muscle

Charles Remington explains how appropriate carbohydrate intake can help you lose weight whilst maintaining muscle.

The secret to losing fat without losing muscle starts with not being too aggressive or extreme with your reduction of carbohydrates. You need carbohydrate management, not carbohydrate elimination. Over the last 12 years, with more than 10,000 clients, I have found by reducing carbohydrates by 20% of daily needs and within 48 hours replenishing the glycogen in the muscle by eating 100% of daily carbohydrate requirements, allows for a fat loss, without muscle loss. You have two fat burning days, then a recovery day. By doing this, you will have the best of both worlds. You will experience a fat loss that averages between 1 to 2 pounds weekly, while muscles are being well fed. You never drastically deplete the glycogen stores in the muscle, so athletic performance is not affected like on a low carbohydrate diet.

Exercise on days where you are receiving more carbohydrates

Exercising on days where muscles are getting more carbohydrates for fuel and taking days off from exercise when you are aggressive about fat loss. One of the most challenging thoughts for exercisers to accept is that most of the results from exercise come when we are not exercising. They come after we exercise and in direct response to how the muscles receive nutrition after exercise.

Exercise 1.5 to 2 hours after eating when blood sugar levels and insulin levels are slowly declining. As insulin levels increase in response to a rise in blood sugar after a meal, the cells are in an anabolic state (receiving nutrients). Insulin is the hormone that feeds our cells.

As blood sugar levels drop, insulin levels drop, and the pancreas produces the hormone glucagon and nutrients stored in the fat cells are released to the blood and used for energy. The management of this blood sugar rise and drop is important. If blood sugar levels go too high insulin feeds the muscle cells and deposits excess into fat cells. If insulin levels go too low, the muscle cells are being underfed. A slow rise in blood sugar provides good nutrition to the muscles, and a slow drop allows glucagon to take from the fat cells. Timing your exercise to this blood sugar decline allows the muscles to receive from the fat cells more effectively. It is vital to never exercise without having at least one meal left in your day so that muscles can recuperate from exercise.

Final Thoughts

Long-term success in managing weight starts with the right approach. If you are overweight, the real problem is that you have too much body fat for how much muscle you possess. A body composition solution is needed, not just a weight loss diet. Your goal should be to lose fat without losing muscle or sacrificing your health in the process. To maintain your results, your eating habits must develop lifelong character. Low carbohydrate diets provide initial weight loss, but at the high cost of losing muscle and reducing metabolism. They are inadequate sources of fuel to support exercise activity, which is vital in maintaining good health. The risks to your health long term make low carbohydrate diet's poor solutions for lifelong weight management.

Article Reference

This article first appeared in:

  • REMINGTON, C. (2005) How to lose fat without losing muscle. Brian Mackenzie's Successful Coaching, (ISSN 1745-7513/ 22 / May), p. 5-6

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • REMINGTON, C. (2005) How to lose fat without losing muscle [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Charles Remington is a Nutritionist from Connecticut, U.S.A. and in 1992 discovered a way to influence hormonal change so our bodies would lose fat without losing muscle or reducing metabolism.