Have you ever wondered how to gain muscle and lose fat? This is a goal otherwise known as body recomposition.
Many people claim you can’t achieve both objectives at the same time. I say you can, but there is a certain population that it makes more sense for as they are more “primed for this goal”. For other populations, it would likely be a pretty inefficient use of time.
I wrote an entire article discussing who this goal is suited for. If you’d like to check that out, you can do so by clicking here.
Within this article, I will be discussing the foundational principles involved in achieving body recomposition!
What are these foundational principles?
- Calorie Deficit
- Adequate Protein Intake
- Consistent Weight Training
Let’s discuss these aspects in more detail!
When we want to lose body fat, no matter the circumstances, there needs to be some form of a calorie deficit in place. This is because we need to give our body a reason to burn fat. When we give it less calories than it needs, it must find these calories from somewhere else. This primarily comes from our fat stores.
However, when we are looking to build muscle while losing fat, there are some special guidelines to consider for this calorie deficit. This is because gaining muscle is a calorically demanding process. If we cut our calories too much, we won’t be providing our body with the energy it needs to fuel our training and grow this muscle. Not to mention, cutting our calories by too much can lead to a loss of muscle… obviously not what we want.
With standard fat loss, around 1% of your body weight per week is a great place to start to lose fat at a solid pace, while retaining the muscle mass that you have. When it comes to body recomposition, I would argue that between 0.5% and 1% is likely a good idea.
This is because, if we are losing fat at a slower pace, it means that we can take in more calories than we would be at a faster pace. This leaves more calories on the table to fuel training and the energy-intensive process of muscle growth.
Whatever this number is for you per week, you can multiply it by 3,500 and divide that by 7 to figure out your daily calorie deficit.
The reason this works is because we are taking an amount of body fat that we want to lose per week, that we know is a good rate to preserve muscle mass at, and we are multiplying it by the amount of calories contained in one pound of body fat. This gives us the overall deficit of calories we want to be at by the end of the week. When we divide that number by 7, it gives us the target calorie deficit for each day.
If you were to divide this number by the total amount of body fat you want to lose by the end of your fat loss phase, it should fall below 31 calories per pound. This is good because below 31 calories per pound means your body is able to pull energy from fat stores while minimizing the amount of muscle lost.
I know this is a bit complicated, so if you have any questions, please do feel free to leave them in the comment section below!
Protein has a whole host of benefits when it comes to fat loss besides keeping you full and having a high thermic effect of food. With relation to body recomposition, protein is super beneficial for aiding in retaining and building lean muscle mass. This is because protein is broken down into its amino acids, which are then used for muscle protein synthesis to repair and grow muscle.
1 gram of protein per pound of body weight is a great place to start. However, since we are eating in a calorie deficit AND trying to build muscle, I would suggest increasing it to about 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight, or even a little more.
For a 165 pound individual, this would be just shy of 200 grams of protein. This amount would help keep you full, burn a fair amount of calories just to digest it, and, of course, supply your body with sufficient protein to fuel muscle growth.
When it comes to muscle growth, weight training is super, super important. The weight that we move is what causes the stimulus for muscles to grow. If we are trying to grow muscle, but have no stimulus, your body has no reason to put muscle on. This is especially true when your body is short on calories since muscle demands a fair amount of energy to be built.
However, if we provide a consistent stimulus for muscle growth through weight training that has consistent progressive overload, we provide our body with the stimulus it needs to grow muscle. Then, with the adequate protein intake we have, our body has the amino acids it needs to facilitate this muscle growth.
A lot of the time, individuals are impatient when they have a pure fat loss goal. They want quick results. Well… quick results and sustainability/long term results tend to not mix well. When we have the goal of body recomposition, fat loss progress may be even slower since we will likely be losing fat at a slower pace.
However, you need to keep in mind that, theoretically, we will be building muscle simultaneously. So that should help with the feeling of progress!
*Please keep in mind, all of this information is my overall recommendations and guidelines. I am not a doctor and do not know your circumstances. Consult with your doctor if you are unsure.*
Well folks, that’s all I’ve got for this article! Those are my primary and foundational tips for the goal of losing fat while building muscle!
Do you have any questions on this topic? Please let me know in the comments and I will be happy to respond!
Here are some other articles that may be beneficial for your knowledge!
Until Next Time,
Please refer to my liability disclaimer to ensure you know who is responsible for the use of this information after reading.