Here are a few things to consider when weight loss is your primary goal while retaining muscle.
Do not consume carbs when you don’t need them, meaning that if you’re not about to work out or you just got done working out, don’t eat carbs! No more than 25 grams in a meal if you must have some. Give yourself the proper carbohydrate fuel to get through a workout and the carbs to recover, that’s it! Any other carbs taken in should be “run-off” or carbs from veggies, cottage cheese, nuts, natural peanut butter or sources that are not true carb sources like starches and sugars.
Fasted state is your cardio friend
Fasted cardio in the morning is ideal best because insulin levels are lowest, hormone-sensitive lipase is fully active, the fat cell releasing enzyme while lipoprotein lipase is dormant, the storage enzyme for fat cells. GH is still coming off its overnight high, a major fat-burning hormone, less blood glucose is in your bloodstream to be burned, leaving fats as the go-to substrate. Keep the session under 60 minutes long.
... but you shouldn't stay with it for too long!
Do not get hungry! Letting yourself get hungry causes loops to enter the diet, you get impatient and look for anything to eat. It’s human nature when you feel starved. Even if it’s the right thing to eat, you end up eating way too much of it. Eat often enough to stay full even if it's lots of veggies and water.
No fats and carbs together!
Do not consume large amounts of fat and carbs together. This is a controversy in many fitness circles right now but it is my belief based on human metabolism and peoples over-reliance on carbs. Carbs of any kind will release insulin (high glycemic more so) which acts to store anything in your bloodstream. Fats normally get booted to storage since they don’t need chemical processing or active transport to become body fat. Plus the body prefers to use carbs (glucose) as energy. So my message is don’t eat them together in huge amounts. A few grams of healthy fat with complex carbs are ok (15g fat for every 50 grams carbs eaten at a sitting.) Assuming you always eat a protein at every meal as well of course!
Casein for the hunger
Fight hunger cravings by eating cottage cheese 60 to 30 minutes before bed and give your body some slow-digesting casein protein to breakdown and use during the night, its void of sugar, low carb (lactose) and high protein, plus it’s got calcium which can help you sleep. No, it won’t get stored as fat! Your body does not just turn off your digestive system at night people! If calories are controlled during the day and exercise is intense enough, you will process and use foods like this even at night.
Don't overdo with diet!
Lastly, when you really feel like you’re hungry as hell all the time and weight loss is not keeping “REFEEDS” is far more effective then cheat meals or cheat days at kick-starting your metabolism. Refeed’s are just 1 single very high carb of slow and medium digesting carbs. Eaten before bed (yes 1-2 hours before bed!) tricks your body into sucking up all these carbs all night long causing it to blunt any hint of starvation or metabolic slowdown. T3, leptin, and a couple of other hormones related to hunger and metabolic rate to go through the roof because of the overnight presence of insulin (you won’t store much if your diet has been spot on over the week). This does have a limit however. The amount and type of carbs need to be titrated to your bodyweight.
These rules only work when adhered to in the strictest sense. If you give the rules 100% compliance you will get 100% of the effect. If you give a half-assed effort then you get half-assed results. I don’t mean to be blunt but I do mean to be honest and straight forward. Results only come to those who do what it takes to get them, not to those who look for short cuts.