Struggling to Build Muscle & Lose Weight? Here's Why...
Over the years I’ve struggled to gain muscle during my bulking phases and shred unwanted fat during my cutting phases. Why? Because I bought into the hype pushed by supplement companies, mainstream media and a handful of ‘bestselling’ books.
Experience trumps empty words on a page written by someone who has probably never dieted or trained correctly before, so allow me to share with you what I have found to be the 5 biggest reasons why you’re struggling to build that body of your dreams,
Focusing On Eating Clean
The clean eating myth is still predominant, you can eat as much ‘clean’ food as you like and still be either skinny or overweight, yes your body will thank you for the nutritious vitamins and minerals you are providing it through this clean food however when it comes down to the nitty gritty of building muscle and shredding fat it’s a science. Calories in vs. calories out… regardless of what source they came from (you’ll lose weight by consuming fewer carbs from chocolate than you would by eating a larger amount of carbs in the form of brown rice or sweet potato).
Understand macronutrients and disregard the hype of ‘clean eating’
Eating Too Much
If you’re struggling to lose weight and you are not calculating your calories it’s nearly impossible to eat the correct amount for your goals, eating on instinct or attempting to judge the number of calories or macronutrients in certain foods just by looking at them is a recipe for disaster (excuse the pun!).
The human body doesn’t like change, it wants to stay the same and retain its current size, shape and conditioning. If you continue to eat too much you’ll either:
- Not lose weight at the rate you desire (or not lose weight at all depending on how much you’re over eating)
- Put on excessive amounts of fats and minimal amounts of lean muscle when in a bulking phase
Understand and track macronutrients
Eating Too Little (Starving Yourself)
Starvation diets are very popular, by starving yourself (eating 30 – 50% less than your body requires to maintain its current conditioning) you’ll drop a heap of weight initially, yes.
That’s right – we’re talking about weight, not fat. The initial monumental drop in calories (specifically carbs) being consumed will be water weight… when someone claims they lost 6 or more pounds in a week I can guarantee you between 50 - 80% of that ‘weight’ lost is simply water (water binds to carbs).
If muscle preservation let alone building muscle is important to you then you’ll want to avoid starvation diets at all costs as the less you eat the quicker you’ll begin to lose the muscle you’ve built, not to mention the progressively worse run down feeling that overtakes your body, it’s not fun.
Calculate your calories correctly and put yourself in a calorie deficit of no greater than 20% less than your TDEE.
Dropping Carbs Too Low
Low carbohydrate diets are counterproductive and do not work as the mainstream media has led you to believe…
Muscle growth is minimized as the number of carbs you’re consuming plummets – this is due to less glycogen being stored in your muscle bellies, which in turn reduce both your muscular endurance and strength inside the gym. A drop in strength and endurance means you’ll have to slow the rate at which you overload your muscles (through a decrease in additional reps and additional weight). A decrease in your rate of progressive overload immediately passes over to an increase in the rate of muscle growth.
Focus on achieving a calorie deficit, don’t just eliminate all carbs in a last ditch attempt to lose fat.
Cheating Too Often
Now, when it comes to cheat meals remember, there’s no such thing as ‘clean eating’ anymore. By ‘cheating’ or cheat meals I’m referring to the number of calories (and the breakdown of protein, carbohydrates and fats) being consumed.
Remember, it’s not WHAT you eat its HOW MUCH you eat.
For both mass gain and fat loss I recommend 1 solid cheat meal per week, at which time you don’t need to worry about your calories or macronutrients… just have a break and enjoy yourself, this will give you a psychological boost and if you’re dieting down into the single digit body fat percentage it will assist with replenishing your muscle glycogen stores (known as a re-feed).
Schedule in 1 solid cheat meal per week, if you do plan to have more I suggest eliminating carbs and fats throughout the day so you don’t blow out the number of calories being consumed too drastically (I quite often use this method of ‘saving up’ my carbs and fats).
You don’t need to be a perfectionist to get the results you desire, you simply need to be smart about what you’re doing and remain consistent with this plan.
A 20% calorie deficit that doesn’t eliminate all carbs while still allowing yourself to have a cheat meal once per week or more if you save up your protein and carbohydrate based calories for the day will net you amazing results.