When it comes to fitness goals, most of us want to build muscle lose fat and look great.
It’s a common theory that you can’t build muscle while burning fat, or that you cannot do both optimally at the same time. Really this depends on the person, how you train and how you eat. Today, we’ll look adjusting your workouts and eating for your specific goals and key in on how to lose fat and gain muscle.
The Challenge: Burn Fat Gain Muscle
One term that you’ll want to know is ‘body composition.’ This is really a much better measure of where you are at in terms of fitness. Losing weight is just a number, when you’re gaining muscle, you might actually gain weight as you burn fat. This is called ‘body recomposition.’
What this means is that when you want to burn fat and build muscle together, you should first have a good way of understanding that your progress is not just measured on the scale. You can burn fat and build muscle, remember this!
When you want to build your muscles while losing fat simultaneously, another key term is protein synthesis. Have you heard of it?
Every day, the muscle cells in our body go through a natural process. In this process, the degraded cells which no longer function must be removed and in their place, new cells are created in our body. This process of removal of old cells and generation of new cells is termed as protein synthesis.
When your metabolic rate and muscle activity are normal, this synthesis cycle remains balanced and the muscular tissue is stable in nature. This is the reason you do not find people losing or gaining muscle for no reason as this ratio tends to remain static.
However, the moment you start to train rigorously, you are damaging muscle cells and promoting growth. Owing to this increased rate, the protein synthesis rate is going to be enhanced as well. Hence, muscle growth is only going to occur if the rate of protein synthesis is more than the rate at which protein is breaking down in your body.
When your goal is to get rid of the extra fat, it boils down to calorie deficit. It doesn’t get any simpler than this. Unless you create a calorie deficit, you are not going to lose fat. There is absolutely no alternative to this. However, when you go through calorie deficit, there are other physiological changes that may also occur.
The two potential downsides to calorie deficit are reduction in the levels of anabolic hormone and impairment of protein synthesis. When you are working hard to create a calorie deficit, the ability of your body to repair the damaged muscle cells might be impacted adversely. Does this mean that there is no way to get out of this? Absolutely not! I am here to guide you through all of the key steps and I will show you how exactly you can gain muscle lose fat together.
Make a Meal Plan
If you want to build muscle and burn fat at the same time, a balanced diet is key. This means that your calorie intake needs to be enough to support protein synthesis, but not create a surplus of calories that will work against your fat burning goals.
A larger calorie deficit is going to inhibit protein synthesis and put a cap on muscle growth. This is why crash dieting is out. Ideally, you want a diet that creates less than 20 percent calorie deficit. Check out the following example of what your meal plan could look like.
- 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight, daily.
- 1 gram carbohydrates per pound of body weight, daily.
- .3-.4 g fats per pound of body weight, daily (stick to natural fats like nuts and avocados).
Now this isn’t a rigid formula and you should always adjust for what works for your body. However, this is what worked for me and I am optimistic it can help you too. If you have read reports on how eating carbs prevent you from losing weight, let me bust another myth for you!
One of the most effective techniques for burn fat build muscle goals is to incorporate carbs in your diet—the right ones. You need energy to perform intense exercises and carbohydrates also prevent breakdown of protein as well. The real enemy to fighting fat is starch. If your goal is to lose fat, you should restrict starch to ONLY right after your workout. At that time, fast digesting carbohydrates like rice and sweet potatoes replenish glycogen stores and aid in protein synthesis.
When you are dieting properly and training hard, you can lose up to 1 to 2 lbs of fat every week.
Time for Weightlifting
When your focus is body recomposition, compound movements and core work are your new best friends. There is nothing more effective than weight lifting for changing your body. Always keep your body guessing and try new workouts but always remember the pillars of a strong body like squats, deadlift, clean and press and pushups. Squats alone work 85% of your body’s muscles and are known to increase anabolism throughout the body.
HIIT vs. Cardio for Muscle Building and Fat Burn
HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training and in order to maximize muscle growth while losing fat, this is my number one recommendation.
HIIT is known to burn more fat per minute than steady state cardio, but more importantly, creates a state of afterburn which means your body continues to burn fat hours after your workout. Studies continue to emerge supporting HIIT and it has quickly become a favorite in the fitness world. It is even believed that HIIT helps in production of growth hormones..
If you think about it, balance is the key. Providing your body enough calories for protein synthesis, but not excess to where you are gaining fat will create a state of optimal body recomposition. This means you can in fact build muscle and burn fat at the same time at a steady rate, but if you are looking to do much more of one or the other, you’ll need to eat and train specifically for that. Never underestimate how important a nutrient sleep is when you’re trying to manage fat and build muscle. Lastly, remember, don’t just rely on a scale to tell you about your progress.
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