But all youa€™ve found are a bunch of articles saying that ita€™s a€?impossiblea€? to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. With very few exceptions, you wona€™t build muscle at anything like the same speed at which you lose fat.
Fat loss, on the other hand, requires a calorie deficit, which means consuming less energy than your body needs to maintain its weight. What usually happens is that people set their calories too high to allow for a decent rate of fat loss, but too low to support muscle growth.
It would be nice if the energy your body needs to build new muscle tissue came from stored fat. There are numerous calorie cycling methods that claim to be able to get around this problem, but even then youa€™re not going to replace every pound of fat lost with one pound of muscle. In fact, researchers from the United States Sports Academy found that a group of overweight beginners lost over 16 pounds of fat and gained almost 10 pounds of muscle during a 14-week training program [2]. In other words, they gained a decent amount of muscle while also losing slightly more than one pound of fat per week.
Even in beginners who are not extremely overweight, ita€™s still possible to drop fat while gaining muscle.
A good example comes from a study carried in the Journal of Applied Physiology, which tracked changes in body composition in group of 30 men who were new to lifting weights [4]. The resistance-training program involved a combination of free weights and fixed resistance machines, and was divided into upper-body exercises (performed on Monday), lower-body exercises (performed on Wednesday), and both upper- and lower-body exercises (performed on Friday). During the first two weeks of the program, subjects performed 10-15 repetitions per set, with three sets per exercise.
The runners lost a little over 4 pounds of fat, but they also lost a small amount of muscle.
Despite the fact that they started out with an average body fat of just 12%, the men gained 7 pounds of muscle while losing almost 6 pounds of fat. However, even though these individuals werena€™t overweight, they were beginners in terms of strength training. A natural bodybuilder, for example, with five years of training under his belt will do very well just to hold on to the muscle he currently has when moving from 10% to 5% body fat in preparation for a contest. For anyone in this type of condition, the main benefit of strength training during fat loss is to maintain rather than gain muscle mass. Anyone whoa€™s been in shape before will find it easier to build muscle and lose fat simultaneously when returning after a layoff.
When a muscle is trained, detrained and retrained, there is a faster change in muscle size during retraining compared to the initial training period from an untrained state [3]. Take a look at the cover of most fitness magazines and youa€™d be forgiven for thinking that building muscle while simultaneously losing fat is the easiest thing in the world. Youa€™ll see headlines about how to get a summer body in 7 daysa€¦ lose fat without breaking sweata€¦ 923 ways to make your life better nowa€¦ get a 6-pack in 24 hoursa€¦ torch flab in 20 minutes. Most see the claims on magazine covers for what they are: the normal a€?pufferya€? commonly indulged in by companies trying to persuade you that their product is a€?the keya€? to solving all your problems. But a lot of people do get confused when they see claims about how much muscle ita€™s possible to gain and how much fat ita€™s possible to lose over a 3-4 month period. Recently, I received an e-mail from a reader who wanted my opinion on the training program of a guy who appeared on the cover of a popular fitness magazine. That means he lost 38 pounds of fat and gained 24 pounds of muscle in a little under four months. Drug use is a lot more common in the fitness industry than you might think, even in those who claim to be natural. In this short clip from the documentary Bigger, Stronger, Faster, top fitness model Christian Boeving (you might have seen him in some of the old MuscleTech adverts) discusses his use of anabolic steroids. Christian was later fired by MuscleTech because of a standard clause in all MuscleTech contracts that prohibits the discussion of anabolic steroids.
But I do think ita€™s important to know that there are people out there who are using drugs and then telling you theya€™re not. If you try to duplicate their results without the same level of chemical enhancement, therea€™s a good chance youa€™re going to end up frustrated at the large gap between your expectations and what you actually see in the mirror. But unless youa€™re an overweight beginner, returning to exercise after a layoff, very genetically gifted or using drugs, youa€™re not going to be able to do both at anything approaching the same rate. In other words, ita€™s far more realistic to lose 10 pounds of fat while gaining a pound or two of muscle. Body Transformation FitnessGiving you the information, motivation, and inspiration you need to get the body that you've always wanted. Body recomposition, also known as “recomping” or “recomp,” is the process of losing fat and gaining muscle simultaneously. A body recomposition diet during which you lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously is everyone’s dream. People who were previously in-shape, or extremely overweight people who are new to working out, can gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously and relatively easily: Writer and consultant Lyle McDonald writes that people who were previously fit, stopped working out consistently, and who then go back to consistent training and dieting regain the muscle they lost quickly without gaining much excess fat1.
Although building muscle without gaining fat is theoretically possible for the general population, it is impractical because it is such a slow, meticulous process: Lyle McDonald says that even though it is technically possible for already in-shape people to gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously, the process is very slow and tedious. Although body recomposition is possible and relatively easy for formerly fit or overweight, untrained people, it is impractical for the vast majority of gymgoers. Although there are various weight training routines that will help you lose fat (future article coming soon), people who already have a substantial amount of muscle mass should not decrease the stimulus on their muscles by using low weight, high reps in an effort to burn fat. As mentioned in the bulking macronutrient ratios article, only give yourself a slight surplus of calories: 10-20% over maintenance, or perhaps 200-250 calories per day over maintenance, is more than enough.
Because true body recomposition is not possible for most gymgoers, the best method to changing your physique is to decide which you want: gain muscle or lose fat.
Body Recomposition, or losing fat and gaining muscle simultaneously, is every bodybuilder’s, fitness model’s, and regular gymgoer’s dream. However, for most people, body recomposition is possible only through extremely meticulous attention to diet and training. Since trying to lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously is likely to keep you from making any real progress on either goal, it is best to pick one goal, either gaining muscle or losing fat, and concentrating on that goal.
Even though body recomposition is technically possible, attempting to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time usually leads to people spinning their wheels and getting no results. Body recomposition is the process of maintaining your actual body weight, but adjusting the composition of your body– losing fat and gaining muscle mass. When you want to maintain weight but gain muscle, it is important to know approximately how many calories you need.
You can also use a tool like the TDEE calculator (total daily energy expenditure) to get an idea of how much you should be eating.
Tools like the TDEE calculator can help you estimate how much protein you need, but again it’s very individual. To be blunt, aerobic dance classes are not going to be a successful approach to body recomposition. I'm Ericka -- New mom, runner, CrossFitter, writer, social media lover, living my life as balanced and joyfully as possible in Indianapolis, Indiana.
In December 2012, I went back to Excel, not to count calories, but to track how my calorie intake affected my weight and body fat percentage. Verifiably counting calories means careful accounting for everything you eat - measuring cups, food scales and nutrition labels. For example, a 200 calorie serving of sugary food (cookies, chips, muffins, doughnuts) takes up much less volume than a 200 calorie serving of vegetables, brown rice or whole wheat pasta.

While the body fat percentage itself might not be accurate, I was more interested in the week to week change. Lean body weight is important because it's a measure of how much you weigh without factoring in body fat. For the most part, an increase or decrease in my calorie intake led to a corresponding increase or decrease in my weight. If you increase your calorie intake by 200 per day, but counteract it with a corresponding increase in your physical activity level (burning 200 more calories per day), your weight will remain the same. The third graph compares body fat percentage (the red line corresponds with the numbers on the right) to body weight.(the blue line corresponds to the numbers on the left). While losing 8 pounds per month is an achievable goal, gaining 8 pounds of muscle per month to replace the lost weight is impossible, especially if you're in a calorie deficient state.
Gaining muscle is a different way of saying gaining weight, while burning fat is a different way of saying losing weight.
Though losing some muscle during weight loss is inevitable, you can take steps to burn through more fat and less muscle. You can partially mitigate muscle loss by creating a smaller calorie deficit; don't drastically decrease your calorie intake. Slower changes typically lead to better results (in terms of appearance and staying power) than quick, drastic changes. Hopefully you learned about the simple relationship that exists between your calorie intake, body weight, body fat percentage and lean body weight.
Beginner's ExerciseWith so many ways of exercising, you might be confused or lost when first deciding to start a routine. 12 April 2016 In 1958, a now infamous study concluded one pound of body fat was equal to 3,500 calories.
07 April 2016 Americans' intake of sugar is way too high and it has no real value in the diet. 06 April 2016 Sugar is addictive, bad for you in large quantities and makes everything it touches delicious.
30 March 2016 Everyone benefits from physical activity: young, old, fat, skinny, healthy and sick. Although there are lots of ifs, buts and maybes, it is possible to lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously. In other words, youa€™ll need a calorie surplus a€” to consume more energy than your body needs to maintain its weight. But when your body is in a predominantly catabolic state, gaining muscle is not a priority, and the synthesis of new muscle protein is substantially reduced [1]. The best you can hope for is to generate a small muscle gain while losing a much larger amount of fat. Take a group of people who have never lifted weights before and put them on a diet and training program thata€™s geared towards fat loss.
Group one spent three days a week running (25-40 minutes at 65-85% of their age-derived maximum heart rate), while a second group trained with weights. During the final eight weeks, the resistance was set so that failure to lift the weight occurred at 10-12 repetitions on the first set, 8-10 repetitions on the second set, and 4-8 repetitions on the third set. The men who lifted weights gained around 5 pounds of muscle while losing almost 2 pounds of fat. Ita€™s in the first few months of lifting weights that most people make their fastest gains, and the results arena€™t going to apply to someone whoa€™s been training properly for more than a few months.
Rather, the number of nuclei (which play a crucial role in building new muscle) in muscle cells increases when you lift weights, even before the muscle cell itself starts to grow. Instead, the extra nuclei form a type of muscle memory that allows the muscle to bounce back quickly when you start training again. Those are genuine headlines from the covers of various magazines that Ia€™ve seen in the last few days. Losing 10 pounds of fat at the same time as replacing it with 10 pounds of muscle is not an attainable goal for most people most of the time. Although bulking to gain mass and cutting to lose fat are the standard approaches that bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts take to change their physiques, most people want to do both at the same time so that they can avoid getting fat while bulking or losing mass while cutting. The other group for whom body recomposition is possible is people who are very overweight and untrained1.
He writes that the process is based on “insanely meticulous calorie and nutrient counting and timing” and only allows muscle to be built at an extremely slow rate3.
Even though it would be theoretically possible to eat just enough of a surplus to build muscle but not enough to gain fat, having such a precise diet would be extremely meticulous.
A decreased stimulus combined with calorie restriction is sure to result in muscle loss; instead, keep lifting heavy, and use calorie restriction and moderate amounts of cardio to lose fat.
By keeping your weight loss between 1-2 lbs per week, you will be able to maintain more muscle mass. Instead, it is better to choose one goal, whether it be bulking or cutting, and then focusing on it.
She lost 60lbs several years back and has not only maintained her weight loss, but has completely transformed her body in the meantime. Weight loss is great and can help you become healthier, but really what we should be striving for is to lose body fat while also gaining lean muscle mass and strength. If you are at a caloric deficit you may lose weight, and if you are at a caloric surplus you may gain weight. This assesses how much fuel you need based on age, sex, height, weight, and approximate activity level. If you do not get enough protein your body will not be able to properly recover and heal the muscles you’ve worked out so hard. Animal-derived proteins such as meat, eggs, whey, and casein are usually processed most efficiently by the body. Opinions and data fly around the internet and it’s hard to determine what’s true and what’s false.
The goal is to build muscle and strength, and lose body fat, so knowing what activities will accomplish this is vital. Plan on lifting weights 3-5 days a week for at least half an hour, and focus on multi-joint functional movements such as bench press, deadlifts, military press, and squats.
Ultimately body recomposition is the same as weight loss or intentional weight gain: the better you know your body, the more success you will have. I finally have enough data to look back on and make some conclusions which I will share with you today.
Whether you want to gain, lose or maintain weight, calorie balance is the only tool you have. The latter will do much more to keep you full for a longer period of time, and therefore decrease your daily calorie intake.
For the purposes of this project, I decided to graph my average calorie intake for the week (which MyFitnessPal calculates automatically - see picture to the right) rather than plot my daily intake levels.
At the beginning of this project, my body fat started out at ~9% and made its way down to ~6%. My spreadsheet currently contains five columns: date, weight, body fat percentage, lean body weight and average calorie intake.
Crazy crash diets that rely on very low calorie intakes and excessive amounts of exercise can lead to fast weight loss at the expensive of muscle tissue. It compares body weight (the blue line corresponds with the numbers on the right side of the graph) to calorie intake (the red line corresponds with the numbers on the left side of the graph).

The difference between how many calories you burn and eat is the ONLY thing that causes weight change.
This graph does not tell the complete calorie balance story as it leaves out physical activity.
It compares body fat percentage (the blue line corresponds with the numbers on the right) to calorie intake (the red line corresponds with the numbers on the left). All you can do is create a calorie deficit (burn more calories than you eat) which starts the fat burning process. For example, if a 200 pound person is 10% body fat (200lbs x 10% BF), that person is carrying 20 lbs of body fat.
Hand held body fat analyzers and scales that calculate body fat are relatively cheap and easy to use. There is no optimal calorie deficit allowing you to burn 100% fat and 0% muscle, but eating 500 calories less than what you burn is a good starting point.
While drastic changes result in quicker short term weight loss, the price is more muscle loss. There are plenty of diets you can try and even more foods, medicines and drinks that promise to help.
A combined group performed both routines on the same day of the week, always doing the weight training first. There are already plenty of finger-pointing, hand-wringing a€?do-goodersa€? telling you how to live your life, and I have no interest in becoming one of them. Theoretically, body recomposition would be the best way to transform your physique, but reality makes losing fat and gaining muscle simultaneously much easier said than done. In fact, studies have shown that even if overweight, untrained eat a calorie deficit, they can lose fat and gain muscle at the same time2. This approach may be good for fitness models who need to be photo shoot-ready at all times, but it is not practical for someone who wants to make significant changes to his or her physique because trying to stay lean “isn’t consistent with the goal of trying to get stronger and more muscular for the most part”3. However, if you want to build muscle, that does not mean that you can eat everything in sight; likewise, if you want to lose fat, you should not immediately go to 1,000 calories and 5 hours of cardio per day. The point with recomposition is to maintain actual body weight, but change what the weight is composed of.
Again, it’s not exact because we all do different types of activities and our bodies all react differently. If you are vegetarian or vegan, there are plenty of great protein powder options like soy, pea, and rice, or you can try to add more whole food proteins like dry or fresh peas, nuts, and soy products like tofu and tempeh.
Exercises like push ups, pull ups, planks, and other bodyweight exercises are also great and should be used as accessory to your main movements. The relationship between how many calories you eat and burn is the ONLY thing capable of affecting weight and body fat percentage. Though it might not be the most accurate measure of body fat, it is extremely easy to use, quick and inexpensive. While I'm not 100% sure that my body fat was actually ~6%, I was fairly certain that it went down (from 9% to 6%). Keep your calorie restriction and physical activity at moderate levels to preserve muscle mass during weight loss. That can be one of the reasons why during the later stages of this graph, my calorie intake increased without a increase in weight. This graph illustrates the truth about burning fat: decreasing your calorie intake leads to a decrease in body fat. Just like my body weight, my body fat percentage closely mirrored any increase or decrease in calorie intake. Ideally, you want your lean body weight to decrease less (in terms of percentage) than your total body weight. When you burn more than you eat you create an energy shortfall forcing your body to look to non-food energy sources, typically body fat and muscle. Through trial and error (tracking your weight, body fat percentage and calorie intake), you will eventually start to figure out when you are burning more fat than muscle. Those short term results are also unlikely to stick with you for a long period of time because drastic changes are too hard to get used to. This guide will help you sort through all the information and help you start your own diet. Although a body recomposition plan during which you lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously is theoretically possible, for most people it would be so meticulous and so slow that it would be impractical and only lead to frustration. Because of the high attention to detail and the slow rate of progress, people who are attempting a body recomposition plan will only  “spin their wheels” and make little progress on either goal.
Since minimizing fat gain while bulking and muscle loss while cutting is the best way to approach a body transformation, it is crucial that you have a well-structured diet and exercise plan. Because muscle is so dense, one pound of it takes up a whole lot less space than one pound of fat.
You can aim for a certain calorie amount for a week, take a look at your weight and assess how you feel, and adjust it until you find the perfect number.
You can use your TDEE as a starting point, and work up or down from there based on your results. Some people will do just fine eating a diet full of carbohydrates and lower in fats, while others will easily trim down with very little grains and high amounts of saturated fats. What’s important is that you are not going moderate and then in your intensity periods goin harder, but that you are going moderate and in your intensity periods you are going as hard as you possibly can until failure.
MyFitnessPal allowed me to count calories more precisely, taking my diet to the next level. It is very hard to fail at weight balance (gaining, losing or maintaining) when you know how many calories you burn and exactly how many calories you eat each day.
The exact body fat percentage isn't as important to me as the direction of the change (down). The larger your calorie deficit, the more your body must rely on those non-food energy sources. You can use my template to create your own graphs and figure out how your body reacts to changes in calorie levels. Instead, a better approach is to decide whether you want to bulk (gain muscle) or cut (lose fat), and then structure your diet and training so that you minimize your “losses” to the other aspect of your physique.
If you are unable to accurately track your progress, it would be extremely difficult to adjust your diet and training as needed to continue progressing.
Considering this, experts agree that body recomposition plans are impractical for most people. For consistency, I did this every Sunday morning at the same time (after the bathroom, before breakfast). There is no way around this simple weight balance equation; any plan that doesn't incorporate elements of this will fail.
The reason you lose weight when losing fat is because it's almost impossible to replace the weight you lose with enough muscle to counteract all the weight loss. Considering the meticulousness of very lean bulks and their extremely slow rate of muscle building, attempting to gain muscle without fat is very impractical and will lead to people spinning their wheels and accomplishing nothing.

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