I want to cut for a while and lower my fat percentage. As everybody I want to maximize fat loss and minimize muscle loss. Are there any warning indicators that my body is burning muscles instead of fat? What is the best way to avoid it? Should I eatless proteins than in bulking phase? Should I keep doing the same strength exercises with the same weight?
The body can use about 31.4 Cal / lb of fat / day. This key statistic tells you a lot about your maximum rate of fat loss, because fat loss only happens when the body is using calories from your fat stores. There is thus a maximum rate of fat loss, and that rate is dependent on how much fat you have.
If you have 25 lbs of fat on your body, then you can metabolize about 31.4*25 = 785 fat Calories per day.
Meanwhile, a pound of human fat tissue is estimated to store about 3500 Cal. It might be a little higher or lower, but that is the number that is frequently thrown around.
If you estimate your weekly fat calories at 785*7 = 5495 Cal/week, and divide that by 3500 Cal/lb, then you get a maximum fat loss rate of about 1.57lb/week.
To avoid muscle loss, you should never run a deficit greater than what your body can make available from fat, or else you are guaranteed to lose muscle just to stay alive. Beyond that, you should train with weights and eat a high protein diet in order to prevent catabolism - the breakdown of muscle. Small and frequent meals to keep insulin levels constant is also believed to help. Another technique which is suspected to help but hasn't been proven is increasing your free testosterone, such as with a zinc supplement, or by abstaining from masturbation.
The obvious indicator that you're losing muscle is that your muscles get smaller and weaker. I don't know of any others.
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