Yes, You Can Build Muscle and Lose Fat at the Same Time

I, like so many different personal trainers, hear purchasers say that “getting toned” is their principal health purpose. Whether they notice it or not, these persons are referring to physique recomposition, the act of altering your physique by burning fat and gaining muscle at the similar time. These individuals know what they need — much less fats and extra muscle — however they typically do not know what it takes to get there or if it is doable at all.

Body recomposition requires a special method to well being and health than the typical weight-loss mindset.

Many individuals assume that true physique recomposition is not possible due to this conundrum: To cut back your physique fats, it’s important to eat fewer calories than you burn. But to build muscle, it’s important to eat extra energy than you burn. However, your physique is smarter than it’s possible you’ll give it credit score for, and by holding an in depth eye in your food plan (particularly whenever you eat what) and your coaching, you possibly can completely lose fats and achieve muscle at the similar time.

Read additionally: The Ultimate Guide to Counting and Tracking Macronutrients

What is physique composition?

Woman boxing with a heavy bag

Body composition refers to your physique fats proportion and lean mass proportion.


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Your physique composition is the ratio of fats mass to lean mass in your physique. Sometimes, physique composition is used interchangeably with physique fats proportion, however physique fats proportion is only one a part of your total physique composition.

Lean mass contains muscle, bones, ligaments, tendons, organs, different tissues and water — in different phrases, all the things that is not physique fats. Depending on what technique you employ to measure your physique composition, you might even see water as its personal proportion.

What about physique recomposition?

Body recomposition refers to the course of of fixing your ratio of fats mass to lean mass — that’s, shedding physique fats and gaining muscle mass. The purpose of physique recomposition is to lose fats and gain muscle concurrently, not like the conventional method of “bulking and slicing” by which you deliberately placed on lots of weight first (muscle and fats) and then undergo an intense calorie deficit to lose the fats and reveal the muscle beneath. 

Forget about weight reduction

Hands holding a measuring tape

When your purpose is physique recomposition, ditch the scale and use a tape measure for a greater concept of your progress.


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Body recomposition is not about weight reduction; it is about fats loss. On a physique recomposition plan, it’s possible you’ll keep your present weight and even achieve weight — keep in mind listening to “muscle weighs greater than fats”? This is semi-true. Muscle is denser than fat

During physique recomposition, what modifications, as a substitute of weight, is your physique. As you progress by means of physique recomposition, it’s possible you’ll discover modifications in your physique, comparable to an total firmer look or that your garments match otherwise. You might even achieve weight, however have a smaller physique, at the finish of your physique recomposition program.

For instance, I weigh precisely the similar now as I did earlier than I began exercising and maintaining a healthy diet. I put on smaller garments, nevertheless, and my physique has extra muscle tone than it did earlier than. I additionally really feel a lot stronger than earlier than I started a power coaching program (a nonaesthetic profit to physique recomposition). So you possibly can ditch the scale, as a result of it does not differentiate between fats loss and muscle loss, and weight reduction is not the main purpose with physique recomposition.

There’s one caveat to think about, although: If you need to lose a considerable amount of physique fats and do not intend to placed on a lot muscle mass, it’s possible you’ll drop extra pounds in the long term.

Body recomposition is an extended sport

Because you are attempting to do two issues at as soon as — lose fats and achieve muscle — you possibly can’t deal with a physique recomposition plan like a fad diet. Healthy weight reduction and wholesome muscle achieve each take a very long time on their very own: Put them collectively and you are in it for the lengthy haul. The sluggish, regular strategy of physique recomposition provides sustainable outcomes, although, so you may take pleasure in your new physique for so long as you keep these habits.

How does physique recomposition work?

Collage of workout equipment and healthy foods

Body recomposition is a nice steadiness between constructing muscle and shedding fats.


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Body recomposition really comes all the way down to your particular well being and health targets. Unlike conventional strategies of weight reduction — comparable to very low-calorie diets or intervals of actually intense cardio train — there is not any actual protocol for physique recomposition.

There are primary tips to observe. To efficiently change your physique composition, you want:

How to lose fats

Fat loss in the end comes all the way down to your calorie upkeep. To lose fats, it’s essential to eat fewer energy than you burn. Cardiovascular train, or mixed cardio and resistance train, alongside a nutritious diet nonetheless stands as the finest approach for fats loss — there’s simply no means round the science. Losing fats in a secure, sustainable means additionally means having real looking targets and not depriving your physique of the vitamins it wants — disordered eating habits are by no means price the danger.

How to construct muscle

Picture of a weight rack in a gym

Building muscle requires resistance coaching. 


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To construct muscle, deal with two principal components: weight coaching and protein consumption. Strength coaching is important to altering your physique composition — your muscle mass will not develop if you happen to do not problem them.

Additionally, you possibly can’t construct muscle with out being in a caloric surplus, so it’s essential to eat extra energy than you burn to advertise muscle progress. While all macronutrients are vital, protein is particularly vital for constructing muscle. Without sufficient protein, your physique will battle to restore the muscle tissues that get damaged down throughout weight coaching. 

Plus, research present {that a} high-protein diet can help with losing fat and gaining muscle at the similar time. Research shows that, whereas in a calorie deficit, consuming extra protein than you usually would possibly will help protect your lean physique mass (a.ok.a. muscle mass) than being in a calorie deficit with out altering your protein consumption.

In individuals who have already been following a power coaching program, growing protein consumption and following a heavy weightlifting routine leads to improvements in body composition.

Put all of it collectively: Calorie biking

Man doing a shoulder press

Body builders are recognized for his or her skill to attain insanely lean and muscular physiques. This clearly is not everybody’s purpose, however it’s an excellent instance of what is doable with physique recomposition.


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It sounds complicated that it’s important to eat fewer energy than you burn to lose fats, however it’s important to eat extra energy than you burn to construct muscle. It’s really fairly easy whenever you study the idea of calorie biking: modifying your calorie and macronutrient consumption to match your purpose for the day.

The very first thing it’s good to do is determine your upkeep energy, or what number of energy you burn on a day you do not train. You can see an authorized private coach, dietitian or different well being skilled to search out this quantity, or you should utilize an internet calorie calculator. This one from Mayo Clinic makes use of the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation, which execs contemplate the gold commonplace.

On days that you just do cardio train, it is best to devour sufficient energy to fulfill your upkeep quantity. Consuming upkeep energy on a cardio day ensures that you just’re in a slight deficit to advertise fats loss, however not in a deficit so giant that your physique begins utilizing muscle tissue as gas. We need the muscle!

Read extra: Cardio Before or After Weight Lifting: Which One Is Better for Weight Loss?

On days that you just do a power coaching exercise for half-hour or extra, eat extra energy than your upkeep quantity with a deal with protein. Depending on how a lot muscle you need to placed on and how shortly you need to achieve it, add 5% to fifteen% to your upkeep energy.

On days that you do not work out at all, eat barely lower than your upkeep energy — lower that quantity by 5% to 10%. This quantity is named your “relaxation day energy.”

Graphic breaking down weekly activity and nutrition

A weekly plan to hit your physique recomposition targets. 


Graphic by Amanda Capritto/CNET

Think of it this manner: Every day, you devour new energy and your physique should resolve what to do with these energy. Your physique basically has three primary selections: instantly burn the energy for gas, use them to restore and construct muscle tissue or retailer them as fats. 

If you are searching for a physique transformation, you do not need to retailer energy as fats. But you do need your physique to make use of new energy to restore the muscle mass you broke down throughout weightlifting exercises.

So, you may eat extra energy (and protein) on weight-training days so your physique makes use of these energy and vitamins to gas muscle restore, and thus muscle progress. And you may eat fewer energy on cardio days and days that you do not work out since you need your physique to make use of the fats it already has as gas — to not use new energy as gas.

By combining these two ways, you possibly can efficiently obtain physique recomposition.  

Ready to hit the health club? Make positive you get the best pair of shoes, best leggings and best headphones in your exercise.

More in your health

The data contained on this article is for instructional and informational functions solely and just isn’t meant as well being or medical recommendation. Always seek the advice of a doctor or different certified well being supplier concerning any questions you could have a couple of medical situation or well being targets.

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