When someone wants to lose fat, they immediately assume that they have to do a ton of cardio and starve. However, if you want to preserve as much muscle as possible and lose fat in a sustainable way, that shouldn't be your approach. Below are 5 keys to lose fat while preserving muscle.
1️ - Calorie deficit: this is mandatory and it means consuming less calories than you spend. Our bodies need energy to function, and they can get it externally, from food, or internally, by breaking down their own tissue (fat and muscle). They also have this annoying habit of storing every calorie they get from food. But we want them to go to our fat storages, "burn" the fat into energy and use it so that we can be leaner. The only way to make our bodies look inside for energy is by being in a calorie deficit. Once you're in an energy deficit, your body has no choice but to start breaking down it's own tissue to make up for that shortage of energy. Example: if today you spent 2000 kcal, but only consumed 1800, you were in a 200-calorie deficit. This means that your body had to break down its own tissue to make up for that shortage of energy.
2️ - Weight training: this is the stimulus that will allow you to preserve as much muscle as possible. By training with weights your body will "think": "These muscles are constantly being challenged, so I should keep them big and strong!" If you train with weights, the probability of your body burning more fat instead of muscle goes up considerably.
3️ - Consuming enough protein and trying to evenly spread it throughout the day to support muscle protein synthesis. At the very least, you should eat 1,6 g/kg (or 0,73 g/lb.) of body weight, but something closer to the range of 2,2 - 2,6 g/kg (1 - 1,2 g/lb.) of body weight is advisable. Then, try to spread it out evenly throughout how many meals you have. Example: If you consume 160 g of protein per day and have four meals, try to consume ~40 g of protein in each one.
4️ - Proper sleep (both quality and quantity). When you're in a calorie deficit, you don't have an abundance of resources to recover from the training and overall stresses of live. If, on top of that, you don't take care of your sleep, your recovery abilities will take a huge hit and you might start losing more muscle than fat. That's why taking care of your sleep is paramount.
5️ - Consistency & time - nothing is achieved without consistency and that also holds true for fat loss. Fat loss doesn't happen overnight. There are no shortcuts or magic pills. It takes several months and, the more fat you have, the longer it will take. Acknowledge that, plan ahead and put in the work!