How to lose fat and gain muscle
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a bodybuilder getting ready to compete or an average person getting shredded for a holiday, the fundamentals of fat loss and muscle gain are the same.
Body recomposition is the journey of fat loss and muscle gain, but it isn’t an easy one. It requires a lot of hard work and dedication. The only way to get results you want is by being consistent. This is an in-depth guide on how to burn fat without losing strength.
Training to build muscle
When it comes to building muscle, the only way to do so is through training, and in particular resistance training. There are various methods and popular workouts that are known in the fitness industry when it comes to building muscle, but first you need to get the fundamentals right.
This is an extremely important term when it comes to building muscle/ improving performance, without progressive overload you will not get the results you want. Progressive overload is the ability to gradually increase stress placed on the musculoskeletal system. This means continuously making the exercise more difficult through small increments.
This can be done in various different ways. One of the best ways to overload and build muscle is by increasing the weight. The more weight you lift, the more tension is placed on the muscle and the bigger and stronger they get. However, it isn’t always possible to increase the weight. For starters, our bodies will only be able to push to a certain point, or you may not have access to heavier weights. If so, you can still progressively overload by increasing the sets, reps, reducing the tempo or even reducing rest time in-between sets.
Another important factor for building muscle is to include a large amount of compound lifts in your weight training sessions. Compound exercises include large muscle groups as opposed to accessory exercises that feature smaller muscle groups.
The benefit of including compound lifts in your workout is that the more muscle you’re using, the more muscle you’ll build, it’s as simple as that. For example, when you perform a barbell bent over row, you are using various muscles in the back, along with the biceps and the core muscles. In opposition, when you do a bicep curl, you are primarily only using your biceps.
On top of this, when you are weight training your heart rate increases and your metabolic rate also increases, this means you burn your calories quicker. When you’re doing big compound lifts this will increase your metabolism and aid fat loss.
Exercise to lose fat
When it comes to exercise for fat loss, in-order to push for a calorie deficit, you need to ensure that you are active enough for the amount of calories you are consuming. This means that although strength training sessions are important, your everyday movement will be the most important for fat loss.
NEAT is non exercise activity thermogenesis, which is all of the activity you do that doesn’t include your workouts. This can be doing your daily steps, gardening or carrying the food shopping, anything that is included in your everyday activity.
It is especially important to get your NEAT up during a fat loss phase because it is a time when you need to be in a calorie deficit and therefore, the more calorie you can burn from everyday activities the better.
When you’re trying to lose fat and build muscle at the same time, cardio is a great way to improve your cardiovascular health and also increase the energy expended. That being said, intense bouts of cardio may have a detrimental effect on your strength training if you do too much. This is because the main focus should be on strength, therefore tiring the body with intense cardio may leave the muscles too fatigued for gym sessions.
This is why LISS is a great alternative. Low Intensity Steady State cardio is usually performed for 45-60 minutes and will increase your calorie expenditure without having an adverse effect on your strength training.
Nutrition for fat loss & muscle gain
The main thing to consider in terms of nutrition and fat loss is being in a calorie deficit. This means consuming less calories than you expend. During body recomposition, you will be required to reduce your calorie intake for the best fat loss results.
As well as strength training, you also need to be fuelling your body with adequate calories and the right ones. This means getting enough protein. Protein is one of three macronutrients the body needs to function and survive, it is used to repair and build muscle, grow hair and nails and regulate hormones in the body, so it’s pretty important.
Protein is made up of amino acids which are the building blocks of our body. Without a sufficient amount of protein, not only does our body not function as well, but your muscles will not be able to repair at a rate necessary when you’re strength training. This results in not achieving the muscle mass you desire for body recomposition.
When you train the muscles, micro tears are created, and it is once these are repaired that the muscle will grow. In-order to repair you need enough sleep, rest and protein. Therefore without enough of each of these things, your muscles will not grow and it may also result in injury.
Another important factor in nutrition for muscle gain is to eat enough calories so that you are not starving the muscles and cannot incur muscle growth.
Although to lose fat you need to be in a calorie deficit, if you are in too much of a deficit this can have a negative effect. Your body uses carbohydrates and fats as energy sources. When we exercise, we are burning calories from these two macronutrients. If you are not consuming enough of either of these, or you are doing a considerable amount more exercise than the calories you consume, then your body will start to use protein as a source of fuel.
This isn’t good. If your body is using protein for energy then that protein cannot be used for muscle growth.
Supplements for body recomposition
Once you’ve got your nutrition and exercise down to a T, then it might be time to consider supplementation for the final push of your body recomposition. It is important to note that you will get the best results from supplements once you have the foundations set. Supplements are there as a final push to get you to where you want to be. Here are some key supplements to consider when you want to lose fat and gain muscle:
Protein powder is an essential if you need to increase your protein in-take and struggle to get it from natural food sources. Whey protein in-particular is the most popular form of protein and comes from a by-product of milk and cheese. It is often sold in a powder form, comes in several flavors and can be mixed with water or milk/milk alternatives. Protein powder often has around 30g of protein per scoop and can be a great low calorie way to increase your daily protein intake.
Fat burners are often the icing on the cake when it comes to fat loss. You must execute your nutrition and training before moving to the final stages with a fat burner.
Ingredients often found in fat burners are there to increase your metabolism, use stored fat as energy and improve your energy levels so that you can train harder. To find a good fat burner, you should look for the following ingredients:
- Green tea extract
- Coleus extract
View our top rated lose fat and gain muscle supplement.
If you’re losing fat then you should be in a calorie deficit. Although this is essential, it might leave you feeling deflated and fatigued when it comes to training. To give your body a push you can opt to take pre-workout supplements. They usually come in a powder, capsule or as a snack bar and should be consumed before training.
Pre-workout supplements often have similar ingredients no matter what the brand, important ingredients to look out for include:
- Green tea extract
- Branched-chain amino acids
You can also check out our review guide for the best pre-workout supplements on the market right here.
Now are you ready to cut fat and keep muscle? Remember to make strength training the most important part of your workout routines to maintain strength and incorporate steady state cardio and NEAT to boost the amount of calories you expend.
Along with this, a controlled calorie deficit is vital if you want to lose fat, however keeping large amounts of protein in your diet to hold onto that all important muscle mass.