Can you lose fat and build muscle at the same time?

Can you lose fat and build muscle at the same time?

Can you lose fat and build muscle at the same time?

Many of us want to change our bodies - become leaner, more toned, stronger and lose some fat.  (I don’t say lose weight as the scale is not your friend, it’s better to go by inches lost than weight).

We hear people talking about recomposition (building muscles and losing fat), bulking (gaining muscle, and usually some fat too) and cutting (shedding the fat).  But what is best…..and why can it be so confusing?!

To become more toned and stronger, we need to build muscles, to be leaner we need to lose fat to be able to see those muscles!  But can we lose fat and build muscle at the same time?  

The short answer is yes (especially if you are new to weight training), the longer answer is a bit more complicated.  If you have been lifting a while or want faster results, bulking then cutting is more effective.  For those who are either just starting out, or want to be leaner and more toned, recomposition is easier and results are great.

I’ll talk about bulking and cutting in another post, this is for those who want to lose fat and build muscle at the same time.

Firstly, let’s be clear - fat cannot turn to muscle or vise versa.  Weight is irrelevant - muscle does not weigh more than fat, but it is denser, so with more muscle and less fat you can weigh the same (or even more) but be smaller, have much more definition and tone and change your body shape.

The conundrum!

To lose fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit - eating less calories than you burn.  To build muscle you need, in theory, excess calories.  So how on earth is it possible to do both?

Without getting too sciency, when in a calorie deficit, we lose weight - this is usually a combination of fat and muscle.  However, if we are in a slight deficit, but eating the right things and working our muscles hard, the loss will be fat only - the muscle will be maintained or grow.  

To maintain and build muscle requires protein - so a high protein diet is essential.  This is not the same as a low carb diet - carbs are fine and often demonised unnecessarily.  Just make sure it’s the right carbs in the right proportions!  Same with fats - fats are essential for us (especially women as they play a vital role in hormone production).

We also need to lift heavy things!  Whether that is a barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, our own body weight, a child or a rock is irrelevant.  (I’ve been known to do weighted squats with my 8 year old on my shoulders!)  When we do this repeatedly, muscles tear and breakdown, then build back up stronger than before.  Then you do this again and again and we get lovely muscles!!  And don’t worry about getting ‘too bulky’ - it is very difficult to do this and takes A LOT of hard work and dedication.  

Another advantage of having more muscle is it increases metabolism so you burn more calories, even when sleeping - what is better than that!

The three main things involved in losing fat and building muscle at the same time are:  The right diet (including lots of water), strength training and rest.  There are other smaller things, but do these three and you are most of the way there.

I will go into more detail about these three things on other posts, but to get started - eat a diet rich in protein, keep calories at about a 10% deficit (there are many calculators which can tell you what your calories should be), lift until your muscles fatigue 3-5 times a week and sleep well.

If you don’t know where to start with lifting, feel free to contact us, we are happy to advise on the best equipment, within your budget.  One of our most popular products is a 4 in 1 which converts between a pair of dumbbells, a barbell, a kettlebell and push up handles.  If you are just getting started, this is ideal, will last for years, doesn’t take much space and will get you well on the way to that body you want and feeling fabulous!

You can also do amazing workouts with dumbbells or kettlebells, which are long lasting (I've had one set of dumbbells for 20 years....showing my age now!), give a complete body workout and are relatively cheap.

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