But, is it possible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time or do you need to start with one then move to the other?
To answer this question it is important to understand how the body loses fat and gains muscle.
How the Body Loses Fat
There are actually 3 main types of fat; these are brown, white and visceral. In general, the amount of brown fat you have is very low. This is actually a good fat as it helps you to deal with the cold.
Visceral fat is the type that surrounds your organs. This is not good as it places additional strain on them and your heart. Interestingly you can have a high visceral fat level and still be skinny.
White fat is the one that makes you look larger. It collects on all parts of your body although most people see it on their stomachs and buttocks first. This type of fat is how your body stores the excess calories you have been consuming. It stores energy as large droplets of fat. The purpose is to ensure you have reserves of energy should you ever need them.
You want to get rid of the white fat and the visceral fat; this is the first step to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time:
Fat is energy in reserve. The best way to reduce body fat is to reduce your calorific intake. If your body does not have enough calories coming in to cover your daily needs then it will start to use fat tissue into energy. This is a natural process and will slowly eliminate your excess fat.
You can find out your maintenance calorie level here and then focus on eating fewer calories than you need. A good target is 500 below the maintenance level.
If you’re not great at calorie counting then you can try intermittent fasting.
Exercise as well as changing the types of food you eat and help you to lose this fat. The more calories your body burns the quicker the fat will disappear.
The Process Of Gaining Muscle
Now that you have the fat burning you need to see if you can lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously.
Muscle is gained by completing strength training and resistance exercises. This means you are placing your muscles under load.
Ideally, you should use compound exercise to achieve this. They will work multiple muscles at the same time while building your core strength.
It is best to choose a weight that is near the top of your lifting limit. Then complete 3 sets of 8 reps with just a minute break between sets. You should be struggling to lift the last one.
It’s that simple, the more effort you put in the more muscle you can build. Although there is a limit to how much muscle you can build in a week.
However, there is an issue with the idea of how to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. Muscle building generally means adding weight to your body.
Of course, adding weight is not the same as adding fat.
How to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle Simultaneously
The issue regarding how to lose fat and gain muscle at the same tie really revolves around a misconception.
You need to consume fewer calories to lose weight; this is true.
But most people assume you need to eat more calories to gain muscle.
The fact is that you need enough energy to complete your workouts and build the muscle; this doesn’t have to come from food when you have surplus energy in your body.
The trick is in modifying your diet. Our free 1-day meal plan can help you do this.
Protein needs to become a major player in the food you eat. It is essential for creating hormones as well as repairing and building muscle.
You should aim to eat 1g of protein for every pound of your bodyweight. Ideally, this should be spread out across the day.
You can also reduce your calorie intake. But, you should aim for no lower than 10% beneath your maintenance amount. This will prevent your body from entering Adaptive Thermogenesis.
Alongside this it is worth doing the following to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time:
- Cut out unprocessed foods. Take a look at our 1-day meal plan for inspiration.
- Eat lots of fresh vegetables.
- Stay away from simple carbs and sugar.
- Complete a resistance workout every day but focus on different muscle groups. Your body needs 48 hours to rest and repair muscles.
- Add some cardio into your routine; approximately 30 minutes per day will keep you burning fat.
Prioritize One: Lose Fat or Gain Muscle
Everyone’s situation is different. Some people have only a small amount of fat to lose, but they may want to gain as much muscle as possible. If this is you, the focus should be on muscle gain.
But if your body fat is in excess of 19%, it’s probably best to focus on fat loss. A healthy range is considered to be between 12% and 18%; if you have more fat than this it may be worth trying to lose some of the fat first.
Focusing on fat loss will help you build lasting habits. Losing the additional fat will also improve your mobility and help you prevent injury when you do start lifting weights.
The Bottom Line
Yes, it is possible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. All you need to do is be dedicated to achieving your goal and stick to the criteria indicated above.
Gaining muscle may be a slow process but losing fat can happen much quicker than you may think.
With our support, you can lose fat and gain muscle at the same time!
Head Training Staff, The Fit Father Project
Brotherhood Nickname: “The Fit Brit”
Bragging Rights: 16 Years in the fitness industry, Author of ‘The Easy Fitness Guide’, Father of 4 boys and Husband to a Venezuelan beauty.