In order to drop in weight, you have to be in a calorie deficit of 100-500 of your total calorie maintenance. Although it may seem simple enough, the biggest problem most people face is lowering their calorie intake too much resulting in a huge amount of calorie deficit, burning too much muscle mass and losing strength / intensity at the gym.
To prevent this, high amount of protein is consumed to not only speed up recovery but to protect muscles and enhance overall health as well during a calorie deficit.
A diet that meets your daily macro needs and a consistent workout routine that will help you maintain as much strength as possible will maximize your chances of keeping lean body mass and shred away body-fat.
Why is Protein important during a cutting diet?
Protein protects your muscle mass. When you consume calories lower than your maintenance calorie, your body turns to other alternative sources of energy and you run into the risk of burning your muscles. This is how the body works, so in order to prevent muscle loss during a cut, you need to eat enough protein to protect your muscles from being burned as fuel. Protein is muscle sparing and prevents a decline in your metabolism.
An ideal intake of protein would be 1G per body-weight, if you weigh 170 pounds, you should be consuming 170 grams of protein. Consuming adequate amount of Carbohydrate is also important as Carbs are Anti-Catabolic ( Preserve Muscles ) and should never be left out of your diet. Carbohydrates are your main sources of energy, it will keep your muscles full and provide your body with the fuel it needs.
During a calorie Deficit, the body breaks down fats in adipose tissue and proteins in muscle tissue to turn them into synthesizing glucose which is used for energy. ( This is called Gluconeogenesis)
So, making sure that the body has proteins constantly in the blood stream will make the body less likely to go to muscle tissue for those proteins. You should therefore frequently provide your body with sufficient protein sources through your diet and lift heavy to keep as much strength as possible.
Why should you continue lifting heavy?
Keeping intensity high at the gym along with a heavy lifting routine will definitely aid in optimizing fat loss and prevent muscle wastage. The theory behind this is simple, in a calorie deficit state, your body is fighting to maintain as body mass as possible, by lifting heavy, you’re simply telling your body to maintain as much muscle mass as it can in order to get through the brutal work load you put your body through.
A high protein diet and a high intensity workout will prevent as much muscle / strength loss as possible. This does not mean that you can neglect other important macros such as Carbohydrates and Fats, the key to preserving muscles is a balanced diet and a good workout routine.
Should I perform my workout exercises with high reps or low reps?
Low reps. Keeping your rep range low will ensure that you’re working your muscles enough to keep them, a rep range of 6-12 is recommended.
Can I get bigger on a cutting diet?
Unfortunately, No. You can however, get stronger on a cutting diet. The key here is to lift heavy and constantly strive to increase your max repetition / weight load every week. This means if you did 40 kilos ( 88 lb ) barbell curl for 8 repetitions last week, you should aim for 9 reps or 42 kilos ( 89 lb ) this week. Constantly overload your muscles progressively.