I'm on a diet for more than two months. It is variant of ketogenic, but high in protein instead of fat. I cut off the carbs but use a reasonable amount of healthy fats, and the rest is mostly protein (mostly egg and chicken breast) and vegetables (cucumber, lettuce, etc.). I also walk around 15,000 steps daily. I measure my weight and muscle and fat mass daily with a Xiaomi Body Composition 2 scale. I lost 10 kg in weight and that was 3.5 kg of muscle and 6.5 kg of fat.

From some days ago, I started taking L-arginine and creatine supplements and do push-ups (more than 80 daily), but I still lose muscle. What should I do to gain muscle or at least not lose muscle while I lose fat?

  • Is that 80 pushups in a single go? If so you should load up your pushups with a backpack or weight vest or something. Or change the leverage of your pushups to increase the load (one arm outstretched on a stool so it is more similar to a one-arm pushup for the other arm). If that's 80 pushups spread out over multiple sets, then that is not very many unless it's a case where you're struggling to do just 10 per set. You should performing the set until you can't perform another pushup.
    – DKNguyen
    Apr 15, 2022 at 16:26
  • I do 7 or 8 sets of 10. Apr 15, 2022 at 17:54
  • Oh, okay. Nevermind what I said then since it already sounds like you're pushing yourself as long as by the end of a set of 10 you can't do another pushup.
    – DKNguyen
    Apr 15, 2022 at 19:35

4 Answers 4


Resistance training is the primary preserver of muscle mass while in a caloric deficit. Eating protein alone isn't enough, you need resistance training plus protein. The pushups will be effective at preserving chest muscle, but you're still going to lose muscle from every other part of your body. If you want to preserve muscle mass as much as possible, you need to be training all of your muscles.

Also, you should not trust a Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis body fat measurement such as that provided by your scale. They are notoriously inaccurate, and their reading will change on the basis of a huge number of factors, including how hydrated you are, and how much salt you're eaten recently.


If you're losing weight too fast, more than a couple lb's (1 KG) a week, you'll definitely burn more muscle. Having macros cutting out a lot of carbs will also reduce muscle, because low carb is ok for losing weight, it still causes muscle loss; but, the more you reduce your carbs the more muscle loss may occur. Both protein and carb help to maintain muscle, so for a 200lb if you're lowering your carbs to 100, your protein should be 200-300, and healthy fats should be relatively high to fill in the gap until you get to your daily calorie value.

Strength training or using low reps in weight training has been shown to maintain muscle better than endurance exercises as well such as your 80 push ups. Weight training is essential to maintaining muscle mass as well, especially with lower reps in 6-8 range, because if you aren't using your muscle, your body is going to cut that before fat, because its more calorie expensive (Our bodies are meant for survival, not to look aesthetically pleasing). It's also nearly impossible to not lose any muscle during a cut, the goal being to hold onto as much as possible. Even Schwarzeneggar lost muscle during a cut.

When measuring fat and muscle be sure to use body fat calipers, unless you have resources for a DEXA scan. Try the 7 point test - Click Here, and use a scale to get your weight. The test will show you what bodyfat percentage you are and how much of your weight is fat vs muscle. Track every week at the same time, preferably morning, and measure again. This will show you a much more accurate picture of muscle loss vs fat loss. The scales that show you that can be inaccurate because it may mistake water and bone density or other factors for muscle. Don't be concerned if your numbers arent 100% accurate, as if you measure at night or in the middle of the week it might be off. the important thing is that over time, you show progress over a month or two and can see where you land.

I also personally don't think you need creatine for a cut, as it will make you retain body water and its purpose for energy and muscle gain aren't really being used, but some people online have experimented with it with success so that's up to you. L-arginine and CLA have mixed research or don't show significant enough results where you'll take these. These are more if you're competing and just throwing everything at the wall.


Your scales cannot accurately measure muscles mass. It might be getting an estimate of lean mass, but you can expect lean mass to decrease on a diet. Its not a loss of muscles fibres but rather a loss of muscle volume due reduction in for example glycogen, water retention etc, things that are a consequence of being on a diet.


Exercise does not build muscle. At all.

At most, exercise can create the conditions to build muscle. But exercise, itself, is catabolic: it only breaks down muscle. Building muscle requires anabolic processes: proper sleep, nutrition, and efficient posture and movement–things that help the body to recover and rebuild. So everyone loses muscle from exercise–that is what exercise does. But if someone is not sustaining their weight, or losing weight: this means that their body is not building back enough from the breakdown by exercise.

Here are three key points to consider:

  1. If poor posture and movement add excessive stress to the body: that can prevent muscle from building back.

  2. If someone does not sleep well or eat well: that can prevent muscle from building back.

  3. Low-carb diet works well for some people and not for others. Specifically, low-carb diets are notorious for reducing some people's muscle mass.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.