How to retain muscle while losing weight
Being able to hang on to valuable muscle tissue while losing fat is a tricky balance to master. Getting the balance between fat loss and muscle retention is an ongoing battle.
Diving into a plan without tracking the right metrics can be devastating for your goals. Burn too many calories and you can eat into precious muscle. Too few and fat loss can stall.
The good news is, we’ve found a way to identify muscle and fat changes in minutes. These can be measures weekly ensuring fat loss occurs whilst keeping valuable muscle.
In fact, ultrasound scanning is vital for farmers and animal breeders as a way to track quality. They do this by measuring muscle and fat levels in the live animals.
The benefit of this is it’s quick and not reliant on things like hydration levels that can skew the data for fat levels.
We recently wanted to prove our muscle retention tracking technology. We headed to Sheffield to track the muscle and fat levels of some pro boxers. One athlete in particular was boxing against pro, Ross Burkinshaw.
After visiting the gym, we came to realise there aren’t too many sports as tough as boxing. The commitment these athletes have is astonishing with hard and intense training and often restrictive dieting pre-fight.
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it…
But even with absolute laser-like dedication and commitment, some things can be overseen. After all, if it’s not been part of the process that’s seen previous champions rise to success then why do it now? We’re talking about tiny changes.
But in pro sports, it’s the small changes that are the difference between winning and losing.
For pro boxers, keeping muscle could increase power. While low body fat levels could impact hormones.
Over in Sheffield we met Ross Burkinshaw, a WBO Commonwealth and European belt holder. A gentleman and true athlete in every sense, he is committed and a true champion.
Ross and I were talking for some time about his training when he told me he had never tracked his body composition. I was a little surprised, he said he did track his weight. Ross was in great shape and had very little body fat.
This insight is remarkable for trainers and anyone working in health and fitness. Seeing a client’s fat loss stall combined with muscle loss is a sign something needs to change. Most won’t see this because they don’t have the technology to do so.
Calipers only show the fat loss, not muscle loss. Plus bio-impedance devices may offer a good guide to body fat but can’t show muscle, only fat free mass.
This isn’t muscle alone but organs, bones and everything else apart from fat. Tracking changes to fat and muscle can take minutes and give you the data you need to get the best results.
Getting more insight…
We wanted to give Ross important performance enhancing data many athletes rarely see. So here’s what we did.
We took muscle and fat thickness measurements in nine different parts of his body. These sites included:
- Lower Back
It was a real in-depth analysis. The measurements show in millimetres so we can see even the smallest change in muscle gain and fat loss. These measurements are not reliant on factors such as hydration, the time of day or training.
At the time Ross was eight weeks out from his next bout, it was a big one for him – a world title fight.
Tracking muscle and fat in the build up to a fight means tweaks and changes can happen based on real athlete data.
Changes on the fly
If Ross lost muscle on his next measurement session, the team could review his diet and training. Too much fat gain (unlikely) then the same team can make changes.
At the highest level of any sport it is all about margins, small margins so everything counts.
Dave Brailsford, British Cycling Performance Director said at such a high level it’s all about the “aggregation of marginal gains”.
By tracking small changes, Ross can ensure he is powerful, lean and in optimal shape for his upcoming bout.