Who doesn’t want to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, right? Is it possible? Yes it is!
To start with, ideally you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose fat and be in a calorie surplus to put on quality muscle, calories in vs calories out is true and in this series I’ve gone in dept into this concept!
There are a lot of cases where we would suggest someone to go into a process of focusing on one goal. Why? So that they achieve the results they are so eagerly looking for and it can be super motivating for you too!
But if you go into a body recomposition phase which essentially means to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, it’ll take you much longer!
This doesn’t mean that you can’t put on muscle and lose fat at the same time, it can work for a a lot of people.
Some exceptional cases where you can lose fat and gain muscle even if you are in a deficit or a surplus depending on how your body reacts to a change in lifestyle and how drastic it is:
- If you are a beginner: If you have just been exposed to the world of weight training, your body will need to adapt to the muscle stimulus you put on it. So you might be in a deficit or maintenance and still put on muscle. This is the golden period or what we call newbie gains!
- If you get back after a long break: If you have taken a long break from your routine of training and nutrition, your body can go through a recomposition phase when you get back to it – it can be a period out due to injury, the lockdown or when life gets in the way and because of the power of muscle memory, your body can go through a recon phase
- Overweight Individuals: If you are overweight, you have large reserves of stored energy that your body can tap into. Calories can be pulled from fat for muscle building.
- If your recovery is on point: You can build muscle if you are on maintenance calories or sometimes even on a slight calorie deficit. Is it the most efficient way to do it, maybe not but it is possible. How? If you are in a state of positive nitrogen balance! Some things that can negatively affect this are: overtraining, poor quality and quantity of sleep and inadequate protein intake!
What can you do to build muscle and lose fat at the same time?
- Focus on training: In order to build muscle, you need an external stimulus! For this reason, you need to focus on progressing with your workout sessions and maintain the intensity of your weight training sessions. Too many people say that nutrition is the most important factor, but without a proper stimulus, you will never be able to reach your muscle building goals either. So make sure you give enough importance to weight training and physical activity so that you force your body to adapt to the challenges ahead.
- Find your Maintenance Calories: We’ve dedicated an entire post just for this, please click here to know more. Basically, you need to know how many calories your body requires in order to maintain your weight taking into consideration – your current activity level, your fitness levels, your age, sex, gender, body fat level among other factors. Once you determine that, you can manipulate your calories around maintenance (according to your fitness goals) to achieve your goals.
- Determine your primary goal (muscle gain or fat loss): This brings us to the next point. Even if your goal is to build muscle and lose fat at the same time, you need to have a primary goal. Example, your maintenance calories are 2000kcals and your primary focus is to lose fat. You will need to take a calorie deficit of maybe 100-200kcals to start with so your target would be to hit 1800 kcals to 1900 kcals daily. Alternatively, if your goal is to build muscle, you would consume 2100-2200kcals daily.
- Macro nutrient breakdown: Knowing you calorie intake isn’t enough, you need to know where those calories are coming from in order to effectively bring a change to your body composition! To know the breakdown of your protein, carbohydrates and fats, we have explained it in a lot of detail here!
- Focus on recovery: Recovery is highly underrated and overlooked by too many people. Optimal recovery is something that can be the difference between you reaching your fitness goals! When we talk about recovery, it includes: proper sleep, proper nutrition protocols, mobility/stretching (in some cases), mental stress among other factors.
So basically, yes losing fat and gaining muscle might take some more time but it is very much possible!
That being said, if you’ve never been on a cut or a bulk before go ahead and do that. If you are starting off at a higher body fat than you’re comfortable with, go on a deficit and be in a fat loss phase, you will get motivated by the results that you see and from there. Once you get there you can put your sole focus on building strength, improve performance and see significant improvement with muscle building and then you can see if you want to go into a recomposition phase!