Scared of losing muscle if I diet

Context: I have severe ME. I am very limited in what I can do physically.

I am also overweight, this stems from having been overeating in recent months.

I want to lose weight, but I am worried because I have read that when you eat less, your body burns muscle before it burns fat.

I cannot afford to lose any muscle tissue as I am already so limited in what I can do. It would be extremely difficult for me to gain back any lost muscle mass, due to the severity of my ME.

So I am worried about this but I am also not sure whether I understood the issue correctly.

Would my daily living activities keep my muscles conditioned (as much as they need to be for my daily living activities) so that I wouldn't lose muscle whilst eating less?


Senior Member
I wasn't aware that loosing muscle tissue was an issue with losing weight. My guess is that as long as you exercise enough (not sure how that is determined), you should retain or even gain muscle mass while reducing fatty tissues. Tricky if using your muscles triggers significant PEM.

I started gaining weight just before my ME started. What I found important for losing weight was to keep eating the same number of meals, but reducing the amount in each meal. Infrequent meals would be more likely to trigger 'famine mode', which would reduce fat metabolism. Also, avoiding fat in the diet seems to trigger the same problem, so keep a moderate amount of fats in your diet.


Senior Member
The RDA for protein for females is 46 gms. daily., but most recommendations are higher. Protein foods are very satiating too. It's an individual thing. (I'm getting about 60 gms. daily.)

The RDA for choline for females is 425 mg. Some recommendations are much higher for treating fatty liver and other conditions. ( I'm getting about 425 mg or a little more. That's all I can tolerate even though I have a fatty liver probably from deficiency. )

If you can eat eggs, they're nutrient dense and very high in choline. One egg provides ~ 125 mg. choline


Senior Member
A rough estimate on the impact on weight is 80-90% food and drinks intake and 10-20% exercise (are you able to do short walks?) related.

Extreme diets hardly ever work and can cause other health issues, not to mention they are not sustainable.

A great wealth of info on food lifestyle is Primal Blueprint (book, website, podcasts) by Mark Sisson.

Important is to stop insulting the body through e.g. processed food, preservatives, chemicals, industrialized oils, excess sugar (often hidden in packaged food, wheat products stripped of nutrients, drinks, protein/health/nut bars, juices, cereals, etc.) and slowly ease into the changes.

Muscle loss can happen through lack of use and if the body is using it as fuel to get necessary amino acids, if it is not getting enough through absorbed food. But, as Crux mentioned getting enough protein and choline will help. You can get amino acid supplements which are easier to absorb (do not require pancreatic enzymes), or a vegan organic protein powder to get a little extra boost of amino acids.

It also might help to check your microbiome health if not already done.

The WHO mentions 0.83 grams of protein per day for each kilogram of body weight to keep the lights on, assuming a perfect amino acid balance. One gram per kilogram of body weight is what I roughly use as a guideline per day.