There’s been a long-standing debate on whether simultaneously losing fat and gaining muscle is possible. The discussions mainly revolve around the fact that there are very different methods to achieve both goals. To lose fat, you need to follow one set of rules, but to gain muscle, you’ll need to follow another.
You may ask, can you lose fat and gain muscle at the same time?
In this article, we’ll talk about how to lose fat, gain muscle, and find the balance to achieve both. It can be a tightrope walk, but we’ll give you some suggestions about how to accomplish your goal. However, before we get to what to do, let’s first look at why this can be a challenge and a contradiction.
The Fat Burning Process
When most people are exercising to lose weight, the weight they want to lose is fat. Generally, we pack on extra weight as fat cells when we take in more calories than we burn. These calories are unused energy stored as adipose tissue around your body. So if you’re taking in more energy (calories) than you are using, your body will keep it for later use in the form of fat.
To burn the fat in your body, you’ll need to use more energy than you are taking in. Engaging in vigorous aerobic activity is an easy way to use more energy quickly. Depending on your fitness level, you can expend energy by walking, jogging, biking, or using a treadmill or a stationary bike. Usually, if you are sweating due to increased activity, you’re burning fat.
As you exercise and your body requires more energy, it will first burn any stored glycogen. Glycogen is your body’s first resource when it needs extra power, but it’s mainly used for a quick energy boost. However, with a continued need for energy, like when jogging or during an aerobics class, your body will begin to burn fat.
Most fat-burning activities require extended aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes. You’ll also need to lower your caloric intake. This may seem challenging, but it can be accomplished with the correct balance of exercise and diet.
The Basics of Building Muscle
Building muscle usually requires regular exercise, especially some weight training regime. Working out by lifting weights or using exercise machines causes tiny tears in the microfibers that make up muscle groups. This repetition of breaking down and healing will eventually cause the muscles in the different groups to become stronger each time.
For your body to repair and rebuild these torn muscle fibers, they’ll require energy. You’ll typically have to increase your caloric intake to give your body the energy it needs to heal and strengthen damaged muscle fibers. Repeating the training over time will build muscle mass.
Generally, weightlifting or following a resistance training program works best to build muscle mass. However, you’ll also need to ensure that you’re consuming more calories than you’re burning.
The Contradictions of Losing Fat While Gaining Muscle
By examining the two models, one for losing fat and one for gaining muscle, you’ll see a significant contradiction between them. You’ll need to exercise and lower your caloric intake to lose fat. However, you’ll need to exercise and increase your caloric intake to gain muscle.
So, is it possible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time? The answer is yes.
How to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle
It’s much easier and more common for people to focus on either losing fat or gaining muscle. Doing both at the same time tends to be tricky. It can, however, be accomplished. You’ll have to walk a fine line between monitoring what you eat and what type of physical exercise you do.
There are several ways to achieve your goal of losing fat and gaining muscle simultaneously. By following the suggestions below, you’ll have a better understanding of what will help and the things you should avoid.
Vary Your Workout Schedule
Typically, losing fat and gaining muscle require two different types of exercise.
To lose fat, you’ll want to do vigorous aerobic activities. Walking, jogging, and spin classes are all excellent examples of how to get your heart rate up and force your body to dip into its fat reserves for needed energy. Burning those reserves will reduce the fat your body has been storing.
To gain muscle, you need to do resistance training. Lifting weights or using exercise equipment are the most common muscle-building methods. The key to assisting your body also to burn weight while working on muscle gain is to keep the intensity of your workout high.
Other than the usual resting period between reps, try to keep moving. Don’t take long breaks between exercises to check your phone or talk with others at the gym.
You can vary your workout schedule by focusing on aerobic activities for fat burning one day and concentrating on weight training on other days. Remember that your body will require adequate rest to have the energy to burn fat and build muscle. Exercising every day of the week won’t produce results. Slow and steady wins the race.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
To lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, you’ll need to monitor your diet closely. It can be a challenge to dial in precisely what your body needs. You’ll need to take in enough calories to give your body the fuel to rebuild muscle while limiting its ability to store it as fat.
You might think you need to increase your caloric intake daily to help your body rebuild muscle. This is, in part, true. But you must think about the concept differently if you want to lose fat and gain muscle. There’s a difference between losing weight and losing fat. With the proper approach, you can lose that unwanted fat and replace it with a lean body.
For starters, make sure that you are eating enough proteins every day. With sufficient amino acids in your body, it won’t break down muscle to use for fuel. And you’ll need the protein to assist your body in rebuilding muscle.
Eliminating carbohydrates isn’t going to help you achieve your goals. Consuming carbs at the right time is very important. Consuming carbohydrates two hours before your workout and again shortly after that is recommended.
You don’t need to eliminate fats from your diet, but you must ensure you eat healthily. Trans fats, commonly found in such delectables as cakes and cookies, should be avoided. This type of fat will provide no benefit to your workout and could potentially work against you by increasing your bad cholesterol.
A better choice would be to eat food that contains healthier fats. Good examples are avocados, eggs, and fatty fish such as salmon, cod, and anchovies.
Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial and a good source of efficient energy for your workouts without adding fat to your core. You can increase your omega-3s by eating good-quality cold fish. Salmon, tuna, and mackerel are good sources, as are chia seeds and walnuts.
Hit the Water
Water-related activities are a great way to work on both gaining muscle and losing fat. Swimming, surfing, and even paddleboarding are great for muscle gain and fat loss. Consider adding a vigorous swimming or water-related sport to your training routine.
And speaking of water, it’s essential to drink plenty of it. With any exercise, you’re going to sweat. It’s crucial to replace the water in your body that you’ll lose during a vigorous workout. Proper hydration is necessary to keep your body strong enough to rebuild.
You may think that a glass of wine with dinner or a beer while watching the game has no real effect on losing fat or building muscle. On the contrary, alcohol can inhibit both.
Alcohol can negatively affect deep sleep, something you’ll need to maintain a healthy body and build muscle. It also can decrease protein synthesis, a much-required process for muscle repair. Alcohol adds empty calories and can slow down losing fat and gaining muscle. A short break from any alcohol intake could help you reach your goal quicker.
Consult a Professional Trainer
If you’ve been struggling to reach your goals, there’s no harm in asking for help. Consulting a fitness expert can eliminate the guesswork of finding the correct balance between proper nutrition and your exercise routine. A professional can also evaluate your current fitness goals and help you to see if they are realistic.
If your goals are unrealistic, they can help you to refine them to something more achievable.
You Can Lose Fat and Gain Muscle
A few changes to your diet while alternating between strength training and cardio workouts can help you to lose fat while gaining muscle. Intense workouts of both types will shed unwanted fat while building muscle. A healthy diet and regular exercise are critical if your ultimate goal is to look and feel better and burn calories more efficiently.