Is it possible to build muscle and lose fat at the same time? To be honest, this is quite tricky to do. If you want to gain a great amount of muscle mass, you have to consume an excess amount of calories to encourage the muscle building process.
You have to eat more proteins, which are the building blocks of the muscle tissue; in addition, you need extra calories and carbs, particularly because insulin is released as a result of consuming carbs and it’s a highly anabolic hormone, meaning it supports muscle building. Insulin achieves this by increasing the amount of amino acids that enter the muscle cell and prevents stored amino acids (stored as muscle tissue) from being broken down.
On the other hand, if you want to lose fat (and weight), you need to reduce your calorie intake and some kind of carb manipulation because insulin is also the main driver of storing fat. Basically, you have to consume less calories than you use every day, and that applies for all types of diets.
If you are ingesting fewer calories than you burn, your body won’t be inclined to add muscle tissue because muscle has high energy demands. In other words, gaining muscle mass and losing fat are somewhat opposite to each other. So achieving both goals at the same time can be difficult, but not impossible.
However, there are some exceptions:
- YOU ARE A BEGINNER: When a person first starts with weight training, the body is more responsive to the training stress and will therefore grow muscle mass more easily. Also, since it’s perceived as an emergency state by the body, even if you’re not eating a huge amount of calories, you can still build muscle. It’s quite common to see a beginner grow muscle and lose fat simultaneously. Sadly, this usually stops after the first 2-3 months of training.
- GOING FROM JUNK FOOD TO A CLEAN DIET: If a person goes from consuming most of his calories from junk food to eating quality clean food, they can lose fat while growing muscle without having to adjust their caloric intake. For instance, if you ingest 3,500 calories a day, mostly in the form of breakfast cereal, white bread, pastries, fast food and ice cream, and suddenly decide to clean up your diet and consume more oatmeal, sweet potato, brown rice, eggs, poultry, lean meat, fish and green vegetables, you’ll lose fat even if you continue to consume 3,500 calories a day. If those 3,500kcals are enough for you to grow muscle, then you will build muscle and lose fat at the same time. However, like the beginner effect mentioned previously, this effect also won’t last forever.
- USING ANABOLIC AIDS: Of course, people who choose to take steroids and other performance-improving drugs will be better able to grow more muscle and lose fat at the same time.
- YOU ARE A GENETIC WONDER: Some lucky people are ultra effective at nutrient partitioning. This basically means that their body is better at storing consumed nutrients in the muscles. These people won’t have to eat as much to provide the necessary building blocks for the muscles and consequently can build muscle while losing fat.