How to Burn Fat and Muscle at the Same Time (3 Simple Steps)
In this article, I’ll show you how to burn fat while also building muscle by following three simple steps.
More specifically, how do you lose fat while also building muscle?
There are two options available:
• Option 1: Go on a bulking phase to focus on building muscle and gaining size first. Then concentrate on losing weight to get rid of the excess fat.
• Option 2: Do the opposite. So, first and foremost, concentrate on losing weight by removing excess fat. Then, after that, concentrate on muscle building.
But what if there was a way to save time? What if we could simply build muscle and gain size while also becoming leaner?
And this is the underlying concept of body recomposition. This is where you build muscle while also losing fat. This is in stark contrast to having to choose between the two.
When it comes to body transformations, body recomp is the holy grail. This is especially important for people who have a skinny fat or a higher body fat percentage. Because you’ll be able to burn fat while building muscle (two things your body requires to look better) with just one process.
By the way, if you’re looking for a training program that will help you gain muscle and lose fat as quickly as possible, I’ve got you covered. The Unorthodox Training Membership program is designed to help you transform your body in the shortest amount of time possible. And the best part? Everything is based on science. We also have added some different fun stuff to the membership as well as tools and resources for helping to guide members on their health and fitness journey.
Body recomp is difficult, but not impossible, to achieve.
However, there is a catch to body recomposition.
Why? Because the fundamental law of thermodynamics states that we must be in a calorie deficit in order to lose weight and burn fat. The disadvantage of being in a calorie deficit is that it severely limits our ability to build muscle. That’s because our gym performance suffers as a result.
Not only that, but it goes beyond that. Multiple studies (here, here) have also shown that muscle protein synthesis decreases by about 20-30%. Because we aren’t giving our muscles enough fuel to recover and grow.
This makes it very difficult for your body to build muscle while losing fat when it is in a calorie deficit. However, this does not imply that it is impossible. Because there appears to be a loophole here. And, with the protocols I’ll go over in this article, the body has been shown to be able to metabolize and use your own body fat to now provide the necessary energy to recover and grow your muscles while being in a calorie deficit. As a result, you can build muscle while losing fat.
Certain people will find it easier to lose fat while also building muscle.
Having said that, research (here, here) indicates that certain people are more likely to experience this. As a result, I’ll benefit the most from the protocol I’ll follow.
They are as follows:
Lifters with no or little training experience.
Detrained individuals who have taken a break from the gym.
Those with a high body fat percentage, such as more than 25%.
“Slackers” who never took their training and nutrition seriously or were inconsistent with it.
Individuals who have been trained and experienced are less likely to experience body composition issues. Nonetheless, it has occurred numerous times in the research and in my personal experience. And, in my opinion, it is still very much possible. This is especially true when the protocol I’ll be sharing with you today is followed correctly.
So, with that said, if you: • Fit into one of the four previously mentioned categories OR • Just want to give this protocol a shot…then here’s what you’ll want to do.
The Body Recomp Diet is the first step.
The first thing you should do is plan your diet. Which factor will be the most important in achieving a body recomposition? Now, in order for fat loss to occur, we must be in a calorie deficit. However, studies have shown that the greater the calorie deficit, the greater the reduction in protein synthesis. As a result, the less likely it is that you will experience muscle growth as you lose fat.
As a result, you’ll want to eat at a very slight deficit of around 5% to a maximum of 20%. This equates to around 100-500 calories less than maintenance calories for most people. I’d aim for the higher end if you have a higher body fat percentage. For those with a lower body fat percentage, the opposite is true.
As a result, your body will: 1. have enough energy for optimal performance in the gym and recovery.
Won’t see nearly as drastic a drop in protein synthesis for muscle growth.
And 3. Will be properly fueled. As a result, you’ll be able to lose even more fat thanks to increased exercise expenditure, a faster metabolic rate, and higher levels of NEAT. In other words, because you’re better fueled, you’ll burn more calories per day by being more subconsciously active.
What I’d recommend is to: 1. Multiply your body weight in pounds by 14-16, depending on your body fat percentage. This gives you a rough idea of how many calories you need for maintenance.
Then multiply that number by 100-500 calories to get your recommended daily calorie intake.
How Much Protein Do You Need For Body Recomp?
Then, when it comes to macronutrients, protein is where you’ll want to focus your efforts.
Two recent protein studies (here, here) compared the effects of higher vs lower protein intake on body composition, demonstrating its significance. Both studies discovered that despite being in a significant calorie deficit, the subjects in the:
• Higher protein groups – Capable of building muscle and losing fat at the same time
• Lower protein groups – Failed to do so, resulting in muscle mass loss
As a result, I’d recommend aiming for a protein intake of about 1g/lb of bodyweight. The possibility that shooting even higher may increase the likelihood of your ability to recompense. This is especially important if you are on the leaner side.
The remainder of your calories would then be filled with carbs and fats. Personally, I would recommend a higher carbohydrate and lower-fat diet. This will better fuel your body for gym performance.
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Step two: Change Up Your Training
Then we’ll get started on your training. First and foremost, we want to ensure that we are following an optimal training plan. And, as I’ve mentioned in previous articles, you should work out each of your muscles:
• At a minimum of twice per week AND
• A sufficient volume of around 10-20 sets per muscle per week is required.
Beyond that, I’d recommend that you change up your routine. As an example:
• Implementing a new training split
• Increasing or decreasing the frequency of your muscle training, AND/OR • Changing up some of your exercises or the way you perform them
This will provide a novel stimulus to your muscles, as demonstrated by previous training frequency research. And as you continue to lose fat, you have a better chance of stimulating new muscle growth. This is especially true if you’ve been following the same routine for a while.
And if you’re stuck for ideas, check out our free resources on the Unorthodox Training Blog to see what workouts and information is interesting to you! If you need more structure and guidance then the Unorthodox Training Membership program is probably a great fit for you as information is provided in greater detail and in a format that more people understand clearly. We also have more tools, resources and fun stuff in there to help our members work towards achieving their health and fitness goals.
Use your new routine on a regular basis. And make a point of gradually getting stronger and gradually overloading it week after week. This allows you to keep stimulating your muscles and allowing them to grow.
Step 3: Improve Nutrient Timing
Following that, we must optimize our nutrient timing. Which you should ideally be doing already but should start taking more seriously if you want to increase your chances of body recomposition.
And there are two things we’d like to accomplish here.
Protein Distribution (Step 3.1)
To begin, make sure that your daily protein intake is evenly distributed across 3-5 meals throughout the day. Why? Because doing so maintains your protein synthesis levels at a high level and optimizes them throughout the day. Which of the following will help your muscles recover and grow while you are on a calorie deficit?
A 2020 paper published just last month compared the effects of: • evenly dividing one’s daily protein intake into three meals throughout the day VS
• Packing the majority of the protein into just two meals per day
Calories and total daily protein intake were both equated and controlled for in the study. What they discovered was that after 12 weeks of this, combined with regular resistance training, and despite both groups eating around maintenance calories, the evenly distributed protein group managed to achieve a body recomposition and gain a few pounds of muscle WHILE simultaneously losing half a percent of their body fat. The other group, on the other hand, gained less muscle. And they actually saw a slight increase in their body fat percentage.
Which the researchers attributed to those who evenly distributed their protein having higher levels of 24-hour muscle protein synthesis than those who did not. Despite the fact that they both consume the same amount of protein and calories by the end of the day. So, take your daily protein intake and make sure you’re distributing it as evenly as possible across at least three meals per day.
Step 3.2 = Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition
Taking this a step further, we want to optimize the meals we eat in relation to our workouts. Because when we are in a calorie deficit, we not only see a decrease in protein synthesis but also a rise in cortisol levels, especially when we exercise. This can have a negative impact on our muscle growth and recovery.
And research has shown that by consuming adequate protein around our workout, such as a post-workout shake, we can blunt the cortisol response and significantly increase protein synthesis compared to if we didn’t eat anything or just didn’t eat enough protein. As a result, we have a better chance of building muscle despite being in a deficit.
Indeed, a study of trained lifters found that those who optimized their pre- and post-workout nutrition by consuming enough carbs and protein before and after their workouts were able to significantly: • Increase their strength AND muscle gains WHILE
• Reducing their body fat percentage by 1% over a 10-week period
Subjects who had the same pre- and post-workout meals but much earlier before and much later after their workout ended up:
• Increasing strength while losing muscle mass WHILE
• Failing to lose fat…
As a result, despite holding all other variables constant, no body recomposition occurs.
That is, if you want to increase your chances of experiencing body recomposition, you should optimize your protein distribution throughout the day. More importantly, aim to optimize your meals around your workouts by eating enough carbs and protein right before and after you exercise.
How to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle at the Same Time: A Step-by-Step Plan
So, to summarize the steps, here’s what I’d recommend as an action plan:
The first step (Set Up Nutrition)
Consume calories at or slightly below maintenance levels (5-20% deficit, or 100-500 calories below maintenance). You can estimate your maintenance calories by multiplying your bodyweight in pounds by 14-16. Maintain a protein intake of 1g/lb of bodyweight. Also, if you’re relatively leaner, consider going above this (e.g. 15 percent body fat or below).
2nd Step (Switch Up Training)
Change up your workout routine (new workout split, exercises, execution, training frequency, etc). Check to see if you’re training with the appropriate muscle training frequency and weekly volume. However, change up your training to provide a fresh stimulus for growth.
Step 3 (Optimize) Divide your daily protein intake into at least three meals per day. Also, make sure you’re getting enough protein and carbs before and after your workouts.
Take measurements as you implement these steps and progress through the weeks to assess your results.
If your weight remains stable, but your waist circumference is shrinking, your muscle measurements are increasing, you’re getting stronger in the gym, and you look better, these are all signs that you’re on your way to a successful body recomposition.
Track your bodyweight, circumference measurements, progress pictures, and strength in the gym as a bonus step (Measure). To track your progress, use these variables.
So, is it possible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time? Yes. That being said, guys, a body recomposition isn’t for everyone. However, in the cases I’ve discussed and with the protocol I’ve previously outlined, it can be an effective way for you to accelerate your transformation. And make the most of your current situation.
However, in the long run, you’ll probably want to switch to a dedicated muscle-building or fat-loss phase and prioritize one or the other. And for an all-in-one, step-by-step program that not only shows you how to successfully achieve a body recomposition, but also exactly what to do afterwards so that you can continue to strip off fat and build lean muscle as efficiently as possible using science, look no further.