You Can’t Gain Muscle and Lose Fat at the Same Time

Posted June 27, 2011 in Bodybuilding Myths 2 Comments »

Can Bodybuilders Build Muscle and Lose Fat at the Same Time?

Build Muscle then Lose Fat?
Build muscle then lose fat?

There are the hard-gainers, the obese slackers, the off-season bodybuilders, the weekend warriors, the overweight housewives, and a million other kinds of aspiring athletes. Everyone has a goal. Some goals are simply to lose weight, while others are mainly to build muscle, but for most people fat loss goes along with muscle gain for a variety of reasons – everything from general health, building a beach body, sports performance, competition prep, and even to combat aging.

The most popular fitness newbie belief is that you can gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. Every personal trainer in the world then tries to convince the newbie that he or she simply can’t try to accomplish both goals at the same time. Why? Because gaining muscle and losing fat seem to be mutually exclusive.

The Myth

The common theory is that you need excess calories to build muscle, while you need a calorie deficit to lose fat. Makes sense if you think about it, but is it really the truth? This theory has been the root of about 100 million ‘bulking phases’, far fewer ‘cutting phases’, and sad-to-say even fewer successful cutting phases. You are not supposed to be able to accomplish both goals at the same time, but is that the reality?

The Truth

True, it is hard to gain muscle when calories are low enough to facilitate fat loss, but let it be known – simultaneous fat loss and muscle gain is possible. To accomplish both goals at once you need to have your diet, exercise routine, lifestyle, and supplement use dialed in and perfected.

By keeping protein intake high, carbohydrates low, and targeting the consumption of both, you can keep your body in an anabolic state while also encouraging fat loss. Be sure eat high protein meals first thing in the morning, before and after a workout, and right before bed.

The Science

A recent study at the University of Connecticut put a group of men on a low-carb diet, without exercise, and reported that the men lost a significant amount of body fat while also gaining a small amount of lean muscle. Just imagine what you can accomplish with a bodybuilding-style workout routine.

The Conclusion

Obviously you will gain more muscle by focusing on gaining muscle, and you will lose more fat by focusing on losing fat. However, both goals can be accomplished to a lesser degree at the same time. This is perfect for people who hate strict dieting and choose to remain under 10% body fat year-round. You will eventually gain the 20 lbs of muscle you’re looking for, but it might take a couple years.

Be sure to use intelligent supplementation while attempting this. Creatine, BCAAs, protein powder, Nitric Oxide supplements, arginine, beta-alanine, and glutamine can all help with performance and recovery. ZMA is great for helping you get to sleep and is rumored to help increase natural testosterone.

Be sure to do your cardio workouts after weight training. Studies say this leads to a higher level of growth hormone than doing cardio before weight training. I will actually tackle that myth in my next post.

Make sure you drink your post workout shake within 20 minutes of finishing your workouts in order to stimulate protein synthesis ASAP. Also remember to sleep 7-8 hours each night and drink lots of water.

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2 Responses to “You Can’t Gain Muscle and Lose Fat at the Same Time”

  1. I have my own experience with this.. about 6 months ago I was 92kg (you know, that “it-all-starts-now”-measurement). After weighing myself two days ago, I was 83.3kg. I’ve had to buy new pants and shirts because the old ones are too big, and I now need belts for pants that usually would hold up by themselves.
    So I assume that I’ve burned a lot of fat, because the results are easily visible especially around the face and waist. But at the same time, I have also become a lot stronger (as evidenced from my progression in the workout program, added between 10-15kg from the initial weight when I first started) and my muscles (especially bicep) is more defined than they ever were. Not movie-star strutting, but I definitely see a difference.
    So I’m assuming that I’ve burned a lot of fat and I’ve built muscle… at the same time.
    I’ve used Swole’s werewolf guide to muscle building, and followed it pretty rigorously.. on my off days I’ve gone for long runs, and even a couple of half-marathons when I’ve felt extra good.
    My only supplement is protein shakes which I use after workouts and long runs.. other than that, I’ve cut out ALL soda, potato chips, chocolate, processed food (as much as possible)..

    A bit of a long post, but just wanted to get my experience out.

  2. Yeah, I don’t know why some people think that you cannot gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. The more lean mass you put on forces your body to burn fat.

    On the other hand, some hardgainers try to gain weight at all cost by just eating anything and all they do is end up increasing their body fat percentage and wonder why they lose the pounds a few weeks after.

    If you build muscle and I am talking about REAL, QUATLITY muscle it shows and it takes much longer to lose it because it takes much longer to build it in the first place, lol.

    All that is needed is patience but in this world it seems like everyone is looking for a quick fix.

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