Many people wonder whether it’s possible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. The simple answer to this is yes even though it’s not as simple as it sounds.
Burning fat entails reducing calories while gaining muscle involves increasing calorie intake. So this seems like a paradox in itself. However, this post will show you how likely it is to lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously. From following a reliable workout routine to having the right meals on your diet, losing weight while building your muscles can be done.
One thing you must note, nonetheless, is that there are a wide range of opinions on this topic. Some feel that achieving both body goals is strongly dependent on steroids of specific food patterns. Others believe that this isn’t a bodybuilding goal that everyone can attain.
Steps to Help You Lose Fat and Gain Muscle
Losing fat is one of the best ways to reduce your body size and achieve your desired body shape. It also increases your strength and endurance when you engage in training exercises or go about your daily activities. More importantly, when you lose weight, you gain your confidence back and find it easy to wear any outfit that suits you.
So how do you lose fat knowing full well that you don’t want to lose your gains?
- Cut down on Calories
Reducing your calorie intake is a huge way to lose fat without losing your super muscles. First, going on a calorie deficit requires that you eliminate junk food from your diet and focus on foods which provide more energy. Meals high in fat for one are perfect examples of food that should be removed from your diet.
In essence, cutting down on calories means that you give your body less fuel than it needs. Usually, the body depends on calories for pumping blood and carrying out other major bodily functions.
But when your calorie supply is less than the body’s demand, your body will have less fat to store up.
- Increase Your Protein Intake
Eating more protein has been proven to be a trusted way to gain muscle without adding more weight. This study discovered this while studying the impact of a higher protein intake and exercise on the preservation of lean body mass. While all the young men involved in the study lost fat (as a result of eating less than their normal monthly meal consumption), those who ate protein-rich diets gained additional muscle mass.
One recommendation is that you consume protein according to your bodyweight. So if you weigh 120 pounds, your daily protein intake should be about 120 grams. The purpose of this is to ensure that your body receives the ample amount of energy to boost muscle gain.
A perfect way to have your necessary protein consumption is to include protein in all your meals. If you have three to four meals per day, consider adding 30-40 grams of protein to each meal.
- Perform Strength Training
High-intensity cardiovascular exercises are great for burning fat and calories that’ll hinder your fat loss goals. But you shouldn’t do cardio exercises at the expense of strength training.
Basically, the greatest perk of strength training is that you get to grow your muscle size and retain other muscles. Whether you’re walking, squatting, jumping rope or working out your glutes and hamstrings, your focus should be on minimizing stress while growing muscles.
If you do need to include cardio in your workout, try HIIT. High-intensity interval training (on the elliptical or treadmill) is perfect for utilizing fat as fuel and retaining muscle mass unlike high-intensity long-hour cardio that burns muscle tissue overtime.
Add about three to four days of strength training to your workout. Studies show that this will help you lose weight and gain muscle gradually without overtraining with cardio.
- Start Weightlifting
Before you can decide to lift weight as a beginner, you must already be overweight. For one, it has been found that trainers who had more body fat lost a reasonable amount of fat while weightlifting. But it didn’t stop here. They equally gained muscle during their training period.
In this study which observed overweight beginners over a training period of 14 weeks, the outcome was a significant drop in fat and a muscle gain increase of nearly 10 pounds.
The researchers found that not only did the beginners lose over a pound a week, but they also grew their muscle sizes. And this was largely due to their energy reserve which supplied their body with the energy required for muscle building.
What this implies, in essence, is that overweight individuals who are new to weightlifting are more likely to lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously. The fact that your body already knows what a weight feels like slightly reduces your chances of keeping your muscles while training.
However, for newbie weightlifters who carry excess fat around, burning fat while retaining muscles is generally attainable.
- Eat Your Carbs at the Right Time
What you eat matters when you’re trying to lose weight and gain muscle. But more than that, when you eat matters a great deal. Timing your nutrition, especially carbohydrates, has a huge impact on your workout.
It’s true that some fitness experts recommend cutting down on carbs. Yet, the goal should be to eat your carbs within one to two hours before and after your training. Another important point is that the amount of carbs you eat is closely connected to the amount of exercise you engage in.
Try this: combine a mix of complex carbs with some protein before training. Otherwise, you could have simple carbs and protein which break down and fuel your body in little time. Whatever you choose, the aim is to fill your pre-workout diet with sufficient carbs to help you maintain and gain muscles.
If you want to train at your peak, you might need to consider eating your carbs as your body demands them. Also, pay attention to the exact time your body needs them for proper functioning. Many health experts suggest consuming 1 – 1.5 grams of carbs per bodyweight daily.
On days when you aren’t training, reduce your carbs intake since you won’t be burning them as expected. Remember that you can also benefit from high-fiber vegetables and fruits including bananas and apple to keep hunger far away.
- Get Sufficient & Quality Sleep
Despite how insignificant this may sound, getting good sleep is important for losing weight and gaining muscles. It has been found that the absence of quality sleep increases cortisol levels, resulting in a higher level of stress.
Apart from this, getting little rest increases hunger, leads to a loss of muscle tissue, and prevents weight loss. Hence, it’s essential that you get between 7 and 9 hours of rest daily as this allows your body to reinvigorate.
- Keep the Compound Movements
When trying to lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously, try to maintain muscle-building exercises such as presses, rows, and squats. Since these movements helped you gain the muscles in the first place, you’ll still require them for maintaining and growing more muscles even as you try to lose fat.
Again, ensure that you perform them in large volumes while still getting enough rest to allow your body to recover.
- Allow Your Muscles to Rest
Now you’re ready to increase your reps and the time you spend in the gym. You’re probably also willing to work your muscle groups hard until you see results. But that’s not really how it works. Your muscles need a break as this study emphasized.
Every muscle group has the tendency of being overstretched and this could hurt your muscle tissues. So make it a habit to take a few days off to rest each muscle group. If you focus on your abs today, switch to your lats tomorrow, and return to your abs the day after.
Besides this, make sure you have 2-3 days of full rest from any exercises. This will give your body the needed rest before you are ready to continue. And if you’re one who pays attention to the mind-muscle connection, you’ll know when your muscles need to go slow.
- Progress with Patience
When you decide to lose fat and gain muscle, you may be all interested in seeing instant results within a few weeks or so. Here’s the deal: monitor your progress every two weeks but don’t expect big changes too quickly.
The better you get at growing muscles, the slower the muscle gain will be. Likewise, the less fat your body has to burn, the slower your fat burning process will be. Thus, the bulking phase is designed to go from “big results” to “slow changes”.
When the changes you observe in your fat loss and muscle gain plan change, stay motivated. That’s just how your body is designed. And it implies that you’re closer to your goal than ever.
There you have it. To lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously, you need to track your carbs intake, increase your daily protein intake, maintain a calorie deficit plan, get sufficient sleep, and trust the process.
These tricks, of course, do not replace your need for effective strength training, weight lifting, and compound movements. With the perfect blend of nutrition, training, and body awareness, you can (and will) attain your goal to lose fat and gain muscle.