Lose Fats and Achieve Muscle (On the Similar Time)


Is Vader on the right track to lose fat and gain muscle? Let's find out!

There’s an argument within the health world which you can both select to lose fats OR acquire muscle.

They simply can’t be carried out concurrently.

To this, I say, “Hogwash!”

We’ve tons of success tales from our online coaching clients who’ve been capable of do each concurrently:

And that’s what we’ll cowl in at this time’s information!

We’ll accomplish that by discussing:

Plus, I’ve tons of candy LEGO photographs and foolish gifs on their approach, which is all the time a superb time.

What’s Physique Recomposition?

As Coach Matt mentions within the video above, gaining muscle and shedding fats concurrently is named “physique recomposition.”

So sure, the method is certainly potential, so long as you observe the correct plan.

…however you don’t must take my phrase for it.

Simply ask our buddy Aksel right here (who achieved a formidable physique recomp with the help of a NF Coach):

A side-by-side of Aksel's before and after

Read more about his incredible story!

Nonetheless, as I discussed within the intro, you’ll usually hear that shedding fats whereas gaining muscle is inconceivable. The argument goes that you need to simply concentrate on one or the opposite, as a result of doing each directly is destined to fail.

Let’s discover this declare.

Dropping Fats and Gaining Muscle on the Similar Time (The Controversy)

This picture shows two LEGO miners, who don't have much to do with fast weight loss, but look cool.

To grasp why shedding fats whereas gaining muscle might be problematic, we have to discover each processes.

Let’s contemplate the next factors:

  • To lose fats, your physique needs to be in a caloric deficit. This deficit forces your physique to make use of pre-existing fats shops for gas.

  • To achieve muscle, your physique must be in a caloric surplus. This surplus offers the power your physique requires to restore and construct larger muscle tissue.

Given this, shedding fats (caloric deficit) on the identical time one is gaining muscle (caloric surplus) appears inconceivable.

Nonetheless, if we go a couple of steps deeper into the science, it IS potential!

A foe from the Prince Bride not believing you can lose fat while gaining muscle.

To understand the nuance right here, let’s get into some specifics on shedding fats and gaining muscle individually, after which we’ll mix them.


a picture of Homer Simpson with Donut

There’s a easy reply and a barely much less easy reply on the subject of shedding physique fats.

The straightforward reply: “eat fewer energy than you expend or burn.”[1]

Eight phrases, and one or two of these might in all probability be thrown out.

When your physique wants extra energy than the quantity you might be consuming, you might be in a “caloric deficit.” Your physique doesn’t have the energy it wants as gas, so it’ll begin breaking down components of itself for its power necessities.

(When you’re curious, you may calculate your daily caloric needs here).

The hope is that your physique will largely pull from fats shops, although relying on how you might be coaching it is going to additionally break down muscle too.[2]

Mentioned once more: when you find yourself consuming a caloric deficit, your physique will pull from each its fats shops AND present muscle for power.

Yes, if you're not careful you can lose fat AND muscle while losing weight.

Troubling certainly.

From a physique and well being standpoint, clearly we’d favor that your physique doesn’t break down muscle when in a caloric deficit, and as an alternative actually focuses on utilizing fats shops as an alternative.[3]

I make this level for a cause: your objective in health shouldn’t solely be “weight reduction,” regardless of the widespread vernacular used.

Who cares what the size says, proper?

A scale can be misleading when you're trying to lose fat and gain muscle.

The objective as an alternative is to cut back physique fats whereas additionally maintaining the muscle you’ve gotten (and even constructing extra muscle).

That results in a greater physique and a more healthy physique.

For this reason there’s a huge marketplace for units that supposedly assess your body fat percentage.

By lowering the full fats in your physique, OR growing muscle mass, you’ll find yourself with a decrease physique fats proportion (it’s only a easy ratio of fats to every thing else).

And decrease physique fats percentages are the place “toned arms” and “6-pack abs” hang around.

Arnold lost body fat and gained muscle to achieve his physique. And maybe some super glue.

We’ll talk about tips about maintaining and rising your muscle whereas in a calorie deficit later on this information. For now, keep in mind you want fewer energy “in” in comparison with energy “out” for weight reduction to happen, from both fats shops or muscle.

You could be asking, “Steve, what’s simpler to do? Burn extra energy or eat much less?”

Good query.

Numbers will assist inform the story: although this can be a gross oversimplification – let’s use the ‘broadly accepted’ start line of “3,500 energy equals roughly one pound of fats.”[4]

If you wish to lose one pound – or half a kilogram – of physique fats in per week (a worthy, sustainable goal for some), it’s essential to create a caloric deficit of 500 energy per day.

Your choices to create this caloric deficit embrace:

  • Consuming 500 fewer energy
  • Burning 500 extra energy
  • A mixture of the 2

Which is less complicated?

Listed here are each halves of that equation. 500 energy equals:

  • The variety of energy present in a Huge Gulp of Mountain Dew.
  • An estimate of the energy required to run five miles.

Yes, you will have to run for a long time to burn 500 calories.


In relation to sustaining a caloric deficit, it actually comes all the way down to food regimen.

It’s considerably more practical and time-efficient to eat 500 fewer energy than it’s to burn 500 further energy.

As Time journal controversially identified – with tons of cited research – “exercise alone won’t make you thin.” It’s too straightforward so as to add extra energy in, and requires an excessive amount of work to successfully affect “energy out.”

We dig into this in our guide to The CICO Diet.

This brings us to our barely much less easy reply on getting in form:

To lose physique fats, it’s essential to watch what you eat, and accomplish that in a sustainable approach.

Right here at Nerd Health, we’re agency believers that 80-90% of the fat-loss equation comes all the way down to food regimen (check out Rule # 4).

Right here’s one other concept we concentrate on: EAT MOSTLY UNPROCESSED FOOD.[5]

These image shows some real food, critical if you're trying to lose body fat.

Meat, fish, eggs, greens, fruits, nuts are all nice examples.

These meals are very nutrient-dense and infrequently low in energy in comparison with their processed counterparts. Which implies you get crammed up with out overeating.


Have you ever ever seen the distinction between 200 energy of broccoli and 200 energy of a bagel? WiseGEEK does an excellent job of displaying this, so we’ll borrow a few their photographs.

200 energy of broccoli:

A pic of 200 calories of broccoli

200 energy of a bagel:

This picture shows you 200 calories worth of a bagel, which is about 2/3 of one.

That’s why REAL meals is the reply to making a sustainable caloric deficit.

Most individuals can eat a complete bagel, no downside. Plates of broccoli, with all the fiber, are a lot harder to overeat.

We lay all of it out in our Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Eating. It’ll present tips about methods to step by step create habits that get you to a “REAL meals” approach of consuming, together with correct portion sizes, tips about batch cooking, and a cameo from Winnie the Pooh.

Pooh knows that to lose fat and gain muscle, he really needs to cool it with all the honey.

With all of this, we advise you to take it sluggish, so new habits of wholesome consuming change into everlasting.

One thing you are able to do for the remainder of your life.

It’s a method we work carefully with our coaching clients on: small dietary changes they really feel comfy making. It’s how a few of them have been capable of lose 50-100 pounds!

Let me clarify once more: what you eat can be 80%-90% of the equation for shedding physique fats.

The opposite 10-20%? Train.

In fact it’s train.

That’s a fairly good segue into…


Toy Hulk and the wilds trunks of huge plants

If you wish to construct muscle, you’ll must raise heavy issues and be sure that your physique has sufficient energy and protein to adapt by constructing extra muscle.

In our Beginner’s Guide to Building Muscle and Strength, I summarize it as follows:

  • Carry heavy issues
  • Eat a food regimen primarily based in your objectives
  • Relaxation so your physique can recuperate

Let’s chat about each shortly.

#1) Carry heavy issues

I’ll all the time be on Team Strength Training. When you’re seeking to construct muscle, you’re gonna have to raise heavy issues.

This Muppet knows strength training will help him gain muscle and lose fat.

Whenever you raise an object (or your own bodyweight) sufficient occasions, your muscle tissue attain the purpose of failure. This causes your muscle tissue to tear and breakdown.

When your muscle rebuilds itself following the exercise, it’ll be larger and stronger than earlier than. You then do it once more.

And once more.

And once more.

So long as you might be consuming sufficient to rebuild your muscle, you’ll get stronger!

Undecided the place to start out on a Power Coaching observe? No downside! You’ll be able to obtain our free information Power Coaching 101: All the pieces You Have to Know while you be part of the Rebel (our free group) beneath:

#2) Eat a diet based on your goals

As a result of your muscle must be rebuilt after train, the energy are gonna want to return from someplace. I’ll discuss so much about correct food regimen within the subsequent part (with a Harry Potter analogy), so I received’t spend an excessive amount of time on it right here.

Simply know that consuming the correct amount of meals can be an enormous a part of gaining muscle.

#3) Relaxation

Your physique rebuilds itself whilst you sleep, so ensure you get plenty of rest each night. I’m speaking 7-8+ hours. It will assist guarantee your physique has the time it must develop stronger.

When you’re energy coaching and solely getting 6 hours of sleep an evening or much less, you’re actually doing your self a disservice. Go to mattress!

Donald knows he has to get plenty of rest to grow muscle. If only that sink would stop dripping.

That’s the brief gist of methods to construct energy: problem your muscle tissue, eat nicely, and get some relaxation.

Let’s slim in on our second level, “Eat a food regimen primarily based in your objectives.” It’ll change into essential when balancing each shedding physique fats and gaining muscle.

To do this correctly, seize your owl, and let’s chat about Hogwarts.

How you can Lose Fats WHILE Gaining Muscle (The Science)

Close-up shot of microscope with metal lens at laboratory.

To reply the query of shedding physique fats and gaining muscle on the identical time, I’d wish to introduce an analogy from the world of Harry Potter.

Recall the “Sorting Hat:” The Sorting Hat’s job was to find out which of the 4 homes youngsters will name their house.

The sorting hat will help us tell the story on calories and losing fat.

It’s nearly like a site visitors director: “Harry, you’ll go to Gryffindor! Draco, you’ll go to Slytherin!”

Your physique operates on a VERY comparable operation: on daily basis it receives new energy (while you eat), and it must resolve what to do with them!

For instance:

You eat a rooster parm sub with fries and a 20-ounce soda. Your physique then has to know the place to route all these energy.

To maintain issues easy, it has three selections. It’ll kind these energy into one in every of three homes:[6]

A. Burn for Gasoline

B. Rebuild Muscle

C. Retailer as Fats

Proper now, while you eat meals, your physique kinds most of these energy into “Burn for Gasoline.”

There’s a lot of energy your physique wants every day simply present: to maintain your liver functioning, your coronary heart pumping, your mind working, to control your physique temperature, and so forth – it burns a superb chunk of energy simply maintaining the lights on.

A beating heart requires calories, which factors into your calorie needs.

That is your “Basal Metabolic Charge” which you’ll calculate for your self in our TDEE calculator.

There’s additionally “B. Rebuild as Muscle” and “C. Retailer as Fats,” which I devoted total sections to above.

That is the place the issues come up: Whenever you overeat energy and your physique doesn’t want anymore to gas itself, it takes these further energy and shops them as fats.

Nonetheless, our objective is the OPPOSITE of this.

We wish to preserve the muscle we’ve (or develop it) whereas eliminating the fats!

So let’s think about a state of affairs the place we pull all this collectively by energy coaching heavy AND lowering our caloric consumption:

  1. You energy prepare frequently, and your muscle tissue break down and have to be rebuilt.
  2. You don’t eat sufficient energy to each rebuild muscle and gas itself. There’s not sufficient to enter the “Burn for Gasoline” and “Rebuild Muscle” homes.

Does your physique simply shut down?


Yep, if you have fat on you your body will pull from it to take care of its needs.
Your physique has been making ready for this, by storing any extra energy over time within the “Retailer as Fats” home.

This implies your physique can pull from “Retailer as Fats” to verify all of the work nonetheless will get carried out, together with your day by day features as a human and rebuilding the muscle you tore aside.

Mentioned one other approach:

You probably have fats shops (and all of us do), you don’t want to be in a “caloric surplus” to rebuild muscle. The energy saved in your fats cells act as this required power.

There may be additionally proof that muscle may even be grown whereas in a caloric deficit.[7]

Which means larger muscle tissue with a decrease belt dimension.[8]

This dog just found out it's possible to both lose fat AND gain muscle.

Nonetheless, if you wish to skip all of the experimentation and trial and error, you may have a Nerd Health Coach do all of the heavy lifting for you (not likely, you’ll nonetheless have to work out).


Superhero Couple. Male and female superheroes. Cloudy sky.

Let’s convey this all collectively and create some actionable steps to shedding physique fats and constructing muscle on the identical time.

#1) Maintain a caloric deficit whereas consuming sufficient protein

You want your physique to burn extra energy than you eat, and in addition present your physique with enough protein to rebuild its muscle.

You’ll be able to solely lose fats if you happen to’re in a calorie deficit.

You need to reduce your calories and be in a deficit if your goal is to lose fat.

Keep in mind the Sorting Hat analogy:

When you’re consuming an excessive amount of, your extra energy are being despatched to the “Retailer as Fats” home.

We wish to pull from this home as an alternative. So eat lower than you burn constantly.

To assist right here, I’ve 3 assets for you:

  1. Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Eating. In order for you ideas and methods to create habits primarily based on REAL meals, that information will assist get you there.
  2. Determining the Perfect Diet for You.” I speak about the advantages of making a Psychological Mannequin on vitamin like Intermittent Fasting, Paleo or Keto (or Paleolithic Ketogenic) to assist navigate all of the meals selections it’s essential to make.
  3. Count calories: This implies studying your total daily energy expenditure, and monitoring your different energy via an app (and/or weighing your meals).

You don’t must observe some predetermined blueprint like “low-carb.” You’ll be able to create your individual food regimen (which is what I do). Be taught all about it right here.

#2) Power prepare

When you might promote a capsule that might be prescribed to each single individual on Earth to make them more healthy, it will look one thing like a strength training routine in a bottle.

A one arm push-up can help you lose fat and build muscle, but maybe start with regular push-ups first.

It is without doubt one of the greatest issues you are able to do to your physique.[9]

And actually, if you happen to want to build muscle, you’re gonna have to raise one thing! Both weights or your individual body weight.

You should problem your muscle tissue to ensure that them to get stronger. Now, as we talk about in our article on the correct number of reps and sets, there are a number of methods to take action.

To construct muscle:

Carry lighter weights for plenty of reps.

Carry actually heavy with fewer reps.

The necessary factor: choose a method and get began.

Vada is ready to strength train! And torment her Dad's GF.

Listed here are 3 paths ahead:

  1. Begin with a beginner bodyweight workout.
  2. Comply with one in every of our 5 Beginner Strength Training Routines.
  3. Undergo our 6 Level Gym Workouts.

To recap: if you happen to prepare heavy and eat a caloric deficit, your physique will pull from its fats shops to each gas itself and probably additionally construct muscle. It is a double whammy of AWESOME.

#3) Prioritize protein

Outdoors of being in a caloric deficit and lifting weights (or your self), eating enough protein is without doubt one of the key parts of each shedding physique fats and constructing muscle.

Protein is the primary nutrient for creating new tissue.[10]

Sponge Bob knows how to build muscle and strength.

So while you minimize out energy to create a caloric deficit, don’t minimize them from protein sources.

Research have proven that contributors can acquire muscle, even whereas in a caloric deficit, so long as they eat sufficient protein.[11]

It’s necessary sufficient that I’ll say it once more:

When you don’t need your physique cannibalizing its muscle tissue while you’re in a caloric deficit, it’s essential to eat loads of protein.[12]

How a lot protein?

As we level out in our Guide to Protein, roughly 1 gram for each pound of your weight, with an higher restrict of 250 grams.[13] Or two grams for each kilogram in case you are on the metric system. This implies:

  • When you weigh 300 kilos (136 kg), eat 250g of protein.
  • When you weigh 250 kilos (113 kg), eat 250g of protein.
  • When you weigh 200 kilos (91 kg), eat 200g of protein.
  • When you weigh 180 kilos (82 kg), eat 180g of protein.

The gist: don’t skip out on protein. It ought to be in your plate for each meal (we’ll present you precisely how a lot within the subsequent part).

If these generalized suggestions stress you out, and also you wish to know precisely what to do, we can assist!

I’ll remind you of Nerd Fitness Coaching, the place we assist purchasers lose physique fats, acquire muscle, and stage up their lives. We offer tailor-made and particular suggestions primarily based in your physique and life-style, plus accountability and mindset adjustments to assist guarantee your new habits stick.

Nerd Fitness Coaching Banner


Toy Dinosaur holding a fork next to a slice of birthday cake on a blue background.

Keep in mind, your consuming technique wants to incorporate two factors to lose fats whereas gaining muscle:

  1. Maintain a caloric deficit.
  2. Prioritize protein so you may construct muscle even whereas in a deficit.

You could be pondering, “That’s all nicely and good Steve, however what’s that truly appear like?

It seems like this!

A plate that that contains a portion of protein, healthy carb, veggies/fruit, and unsweetened drink.

Taken from The Nerd’s Guide to Healthy Eating, which I really need you to learn.

The plate consists of the next:

  • 1-2 servings of protein (¼ of plate)
  • 2 servings of greens (½ of plate)
  • 1 serving potatoes, rice, or pasta. (1/4th of plate)
  • 1 serving of fats (dimension of your thumb)
  • 1 zero-calorie or low-calorie beverage (water, food regimen soda, tea)

By sticking to our Wholesome Plate technique above, you’ll concentrate on “REAL meals,” which can provide help to keep a caloric deficit over time.

Let’s hone in on protein for a second, as a result of it’s the essential piece for “constructing muscle.”

Protein can come from any variety of sources, together with:

  • Meat (steak, bison, pork).
  • Poultry (rooster, turkey, duck).
  • Eggs![14]
  • Fish and shellfish (salmon, tuna, shrimp).
  • Legumes (black beans, chickpeas).

Not a meat-eater? Learn our massive plant-based guide!

A serving of protein is concerning the dimension and thickness of your palm.

A serving of protein should be about the size of your palm, like so.

*The 4 ouncesserving is for an raw piece of meat. Cooking reduces about 25% of the load, bringing it all the way down to about 3 oz.

When you’re curious, right here’s how a lot protein is in a serving of meals:

  • 4 oz (113 g) serving of rooster has round 30 g of protein.
  • 4 oz (113 g) serving of salmon has 23 g of protein
  • 4 oz (113 g) of steak has 28 g of protein.

Whereas all the Wholesome Plate above is necessary, I would like you to pay further consideration to your protein consumption since we try to construct muscle.

When you’re having hassle making your protein consumption objectives, try our Guide on Protein Supplements for some ideas and methods to up your consumption, together with some superior smoothie recipes.

That is the precise technique I adopted to lose 22 pounds and get to single-digit body fat percentages WHILE constructing muscle:

  • Carry tremendous heavy.
  • Eat LOTS of protein.
  • Cut back carb and fats consumption.

In case you are NOT shedding weight, it means you might be nonetheless consuming too many energy. Hold your protein consumption excessive, and cut back your fats and carbohydrate consumption.

I cowl this in higher element in our “Why Can’t I Lose Weight?” guide.

Ultimately, you’ll attain a standing the place there simply isn’t sufficient fats on you to assist with “Rebuild Muscle.” At this stage, you may not stick with a caloric deficit. You’ll have to flip to a slight “caloric surplus” to build more muscle.

Which implies you’ll must eat extra.

Like this turtle, you may reach a point where you have to eat more to gain muscle.

It’s debatable when this may really happen, and we’re all completely different. Reaching 8% physique fats for males and 16% physique fats for girls is an effective place to start out.

I speak about this extensively in our information “How to Build Muscle.”

It covers methods to extend your energy for muscle acquire, from consuming plentiful quantities of Paleo foods to consuming sufficient milk to make Santa Claus jealous.

Santa is drinking milk to put on some muscle. The cookies are just because he likes them.

Go test it out if you happen to’ve been having hassle placing on muscle.

I wish to stress that in case you are lifting heavy, and never gaining muscle, food regimen is probably going the wrongdoer.

It was my downside for years, and I’ve seen it amongst numerous readers of Nerd Health who’ve hassle gaining muscle.

In order for you an knowledgeable who will inform you precisely when to eat kind of, try our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program.

HOW TO TELL IF IT’S ALL WORKING (Persevering with to Lose Fats Whereas Gaining Muscle)

Now you're ready to start losing fat and gaining muscle!

When you’re attempting to enhance one thing, it’s necessary to trace it. This additionally holds true of physique composition.

Most individuals do that by leaping on the size. This may be “okay,” however it’s solely going to inform a part of the story.

When you’re constructing muscle whereas shedding fats, the size may not go down. [15]

Regardless of weighing the identical, you may probably have an improved physique.

Don't just look at the scale. You might have lost bodyfat and gained muscle, but the scale won't show it!

That’s why along with leaping on the size, I might additionally encourage you to take progress photographs.

Take entrance and aspect photographs in your mirror, sporting underwear or a showering swimsuit. Every week, take new photographs, and file the quantity on the size underneath the identical state of affairs. Two types of monitoring right here permit us to get the total image.

The size generally lies!

When you eat for a caloric deficit, energy prepare, and prioritize protein, see what occurs.

You could end up shedding some fats and gaining muscle.

If not, monitor every class:

Information can assist inform the story.

Data and numbers will help you know if you're losing fat and gaining muscle. Numbers, not the robot.

…I used to be pondering of detailed notes.

However an android can be useful too.

Oftentimes if you happen to’re not seeing desired outcomes, notes and record-keeping can assist level us within the route to make changes.

Check your assumptions if issues don’t look like on monitor. Right here’s our Guide on Tracking Fitness Progress so that you can be taught extra.

The ideas outlined above will get you began shedding fats whereas constructing muscle, however if you happen to’re seeking to go a bit additional…

#1) In order for you step-by-step steerage on methods to shed pounds, eat higher, and get stronger, try our killer 1-on-1 coaching program:

#2) In order for you a precise blueprint for getting in form, try NF Journey. Our enjoyable habit-building app helps you train extra ceaselessly, eat more healthy, and stage up your life (actually).

Attempt your free trial proper right here:

#3) Enlist within the Rebel! We’ve a free e mail publication that we ship out twice per week, filled with ideas and methods that can assist you get wholesome, get sturdy, and have enjoyable doing so.

I’ll additionally ship you tons of free guides that you should use to start out leveling up your life too:

Alright, I believe that about does it for this information.

Did I miss something? Do you’ve gotten any ideas and methods on the subject of shedding physique fats and constructing muscle?

Share it with us!


PS: Be sure you learn the remainder of the articles in our “How you can Lose Weight 101” Sequence!

PPS: You could be asking…

Can I Physique Recomp ceaselessly?

No, you can’t lose physique fats whereas gaining muscle ceaselessly.

Whenever you’re first beginning off, specializing in physique composition is a superb technique and may give you a variety of progress.

However with constant exercise and vitamin habits over many months and years, you might discover that your adjustments and progress slowing down or plateauing.

At this level for a lot of, going right into a more distinct muscle/weight gain phase for a number of weeks, adopted by a fat/weight loss phase for a number of weeks will produce outcomes sooner than doing each on the identical time.

Does that imply it’s the perfect plan of action for everybody?

Not essentially!

  • For some, they benefit from the relative simplicity of physique recomposition ways and it’s much less to mentally take into consideration. They nonetheless really feel nice, look a lot completely different than after they began, and are fully content material with how every thing goes.
  • For others, switching from weight acquire/weight reduction phases may be worrying and triggering, particularly if they’ve a checkered historical past with their vitamin. So whereas distinct phases of positive factors and losses may match greatest in idea, they won’t be very best for everybody.

Select what’s greatest for you!

And if you happen to’re searching for a professional that can assist you navigate via all these questions and conditions, try Nerd Fitness Online Coaching! The group spends all day speaking about these kinds of issues. That and Tremendous Smash Bros.


All photograph sources are proper right here: Venting Off, Ekaterina Minaeva © 123RF.com, czgur © 123RF.com, morethanl8ve © 123RF.com, Константин Колосов © 123RF.com, Maxim Maksutov © 123RF.com, Julianna Funk © 123RF.com, jump

About Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *