Help! I Went From Fat to Flat!

How to Avoid Looking Flat When Dieting

How do you avoid looking small and flat when you’re in a fat-loss phase? Here are the simple strategies for muscle fullness.

How do you avoid looking flat and small when losing body fat? Try these tricks and tips:

The Bullet Points

  • If you’re a natural lifter, you probably can’t avoid it, but you can mitigate it.
  • Muscles get “flat” when dieting because you have decreased intramuscular glycogen and water, especially with lower-carb diets.
  • There are some tricks to help you maintain fullness, muscle tension, and muscular pressure.
  • Creatine can help.
  • Increasing electrolyte levels also helps: sodium, potassium, and magnesium. One sign of being low on electrolytes is brain fog and headaches. (“Keto flu” is actually a sign of low electrolytes.)
  • When you cut out crap food, you’re also cutting out a lot of sodium, so less water is held within the tissues. That’s why a bodybuilder who looks flat backstage before a show will eat salty chips. The sodium increase fullness and vascularity. A cheat meal can do the same.
  • When dieting, you’re probably increasing cardio and, therefore, sweating more. Again, you’re sweating out sodium. Dieters should maintain sodium intake and maybe even increase it.
  • Another strategy is to have higher carb days during the week. With carb cycling, you go low carb for a few days, and when you’re muscle glycogen stores start to deplete, you have a higher carb day (not a full cheat day).
  • Can doing explosive exercises help? Yes and no. Anything that increases neurological activation increases muscle tone. “Tone” is just a partial state of muscle activation, but it’s not fullness. The muscle may, however, feel harder. Explosive work can transiently increase muscle tone for a few hours after training, but so can strength work.

Note: For daily videos like this and more Q&A with Coach Thibaudeau, join him in his exclusive T Nation Plus forum.

Stay pumped.



During my current cut I’ve been grinding up ~2g of salt into a glass of skimmed milk an hour or so before the gym, especially on upper days as I feel it contributes to my strength more. Pair that with the ~200cals of carbs I have at the same time and I genuinely feel a world of difference to my fullness. Even if I don’t straight away, a set or two in I don’t feel flat in the slightest.

It sounds like it’s too small or simple to make a difference, but I can attest to it working.

1 Like