Nutrition to Keep Muscle While Dropping Weight?

I’ve lifted for years and chunked up during the birth of my second kid. Since May, I’ve lost 17 pounds (was at 220) and am trying to climb down to 195. I may try for 185. I’ve male, 5’9, age 35. Per my stats attached to this post, I’m at 17% body fat and ~160 pounds of muscle mass

I’ve been tracking my nutrition via MyFitnessPal, using my fitbit, and logging all my workouts. I’ve been using Chad Waterbury total body workout approach (Total Body Training | T NATION). I primarily lift and do some cardio by playing with the kid at the playground. No jogging atm.

Supplement-wise, I’ve been using Orgain Superfoods. I use to love whey, but multiple whey protein supplements gave me horrible heartburn.I do not use any pre workout. I try and hit 125-180 grams of protein each day.

Finally, my question. As I climb down in weight, my goal is too keep a solid amount of lean muscle. Is there anything I should incorporate diet or supplement wise? Should I take a shake at bedtime? Pre workout? Any additional exercises I should incorporate?


Congrats on the fat loss, I’ve been there myself and know how hard it is to keep plugging away when you have young kids.

I try and hit 125-180 grams of protein each day.

Keep this closer to the 180 grams, some people recommend 1 gram of protein per lb of bodyweight. My personal experience is that I’m fine on a little bit under that. This should be a fairly easy amount to attain to, personally I only use 1-2 bars or shakes per day and the rest comes from meat, fish and eggs/liquid egg whites.

In terms of supplements, you can’t go wrong with Creatine, a fish oil supplement and multivitamin. There are certainly other supplements that may offer benefits but it’s a case of cost vs benefit, advertising will tell you that you need to take a certain supplement and cite shady research to tell you how it will help you lose fat and build muscle i.e BCAA’s, CLA, green tea capsules

Pre workout - again supplement companies spike a lot of them with stimulants to make you feel certain ways and will market their effectiveness. If you don’t train too close to bedtime then a nice strong coffee or low sugar energy drink such as Reign or Monster etc will give you the same result, it’s horses for courses really.

Diet - as long as you have got a moderate deficit you’re golden, I’m currently on a 700 kcal daily deficit with one refeed day and losing 1lb per week. It’s sustainable and not affecting my training with low energy and excessive hunger. Slow and steady wins the race. If your schedule allows it an excellent way to help restrict calories is the 16:8 fasting method, where you fast for 16 days and eat within an 8 hour window. Also if your fat loss stalls for a couple of weeks consider a week long diet break, it will bring your metabolism back up and help you refresh mentally.

Exercises - contrary to what some people will tell you, you don’t need to incorporate 1000’s of burpees per day. Base your training off main compound exercises which if you’re following Total Body Training you will be doing anyway and focus on consistently trying to hit more weight for more reps on those exercises. If you have time and recover sufficiently you could train for 4 days on an upper/lower split or push/pull split, it really depends on what is sustainable and achievable for you. You could always incorporate 1-2 HIIT sessions per week as you’ve not mentioned cardio. Daily walks are also an excellent way to burn calories and aid recovery.

Hope this helps

Wow, you’ve got a lot of similar stats to me and using the same workout, etc. I hope more folks chime in on your post here.

Thank you for this thoughtful reply! I forgot to mention, I am also on a vitamin regimen - Mutlivitamin, Vitamin C, TheraTears (Omega 3s), Vitamin D, Glucosamine Chondroitin, and CoQ10.

Pre-workout - Good to know. I’m usually at the gym by 5:30AM and eat a piece of fruit prior to starting.

Diet - I’ve heard good things about fasting, may try that. I’m coming up on a vacation, so I may take a slight break then diet-wise to restart.

Exercises - I like this, I may try to throw in an extra day of cardio/HIIT/etc.

Nice, I’m a big fan of this workout.

Like aholding pointed out, your protein intake is the first flaring issue. Definitely get it closer to total bodyweight and be more consistent with it. Protein is obviously the number one thing that supports muscle preservation when dieting, so crank it up as high as you can manage. Shave calories from fats or carbs if you need to keep total daily calories in check.

A decent serving of protein before bed can absolutely help. This article explains some reasons why.

A stimulant-based “preworkout” definitely isn’t necessary. Workout nutrition immediately before/during training is, so you have fast-acting protein and carbs to train harder and recover faster. Plazma is the best choice on that front, light years better than just a piece of fruit.

Nope. Follow Waterbury’s plan to the letter. It’s a solid program.

Personally, I’ve never been able to get sub 10% bodyfat without protein making up at least 40% of my total caloric intake. My last cut it was even up to 60% by the very tail end, but I hit about 6%. Idk how lean you’re trying to get. I’ve never had any issues maintaining muscle with this approach.

Also, I’m not saying you can’t keep cutting training 3x/week, but it will be a challenge. I’d recommend hitting the gym 5-6x a week.

I made this post awhile back. Worth a look for some more in depth ideas: When Your Cut Stalls

How much time should elapse between meals? I try to hit up to 40 grams of protein per meal. Advice online regarding how long one should wait between meals to allow time for protein to process vary.

What’ve you been doing so far?

Generally, as long as it’s two hours or so between “feedings”, you’re good. This talks about why/how that affects protein synthesis, but it’s pretty much detail stuff not worth stressing over. Hit breakfast-lunch-dinner with one or two snacks/shakes inbetween and you’ll be fine.

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