Can You Build Muscle and Lose Body Fat at the Same Time?
The question of whether it is possible for you to gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously has been debated by fitness professionals for years. My take on it is that it is a LOT easier to gain muscle while you're in a time period of caloric excess above your maintenance level.
However, that certainly doesn't mean that it's impossible to gain muscle while also simultaneously losing body fat. This is common in beginners who have never strength trained in their lives. When they start their program, they can typically gain muscle even while they are also losing body fat.
But many more experienced trainees will find it hard to do both at the same time, and prefer to separate the goals into two distinct time periods for gaining muscle or losing body fat.
My friend in the biz, Jon Benson, owner of http://www.BestFitnessOver40.com/ just sent me a great article about this topic the other day, and I wanted to share it with you, because John actually has a system he uses to lose body fat and build muscle simultaneously.
Here is Jon's article:
Is it possible to Lose Body Fat & Gain Muscle Simultaneously?
"My learned colleague."
I was in court yesterday and heard that phrase quite a bit.
Don't worry...I was just proving to the good judge that I indeed had insurance despite the fact I did not have it on me at the time Mr. Officer pulled me over.
I was going 120 in a 30. Kidding.
My registration had elapsed on one of my vehicles. I was living out-of-state for a long time and...
Do you really care?
Probably not! So, I'll get to the point...
"My learned colleague," in this case, meant,"That jerk over there who disagrees with me says..."
Let's just be honest.
Well, I'm using it literally. I have a very"learned colleague" in Tom Venuto. He's my co-author of Fit Over 40, and a heck of a bodybuilder.
He's forgotten more about fat burning than most so-called 'gurus' will ever know.
But...we disagree on this topic.
That's okay. The best of the best disagree. It's best to get every qualified opinion and then make up your mind, don't you think?
A few years ago, Tom asked me, "So, Jon...do you think you can build muscle on a hypo-caloric diet?"
"Absolutely," I said. "I do it all the time."
"But how is that possible? Explain it. I don't buy it...but I believe you. It just doesn't make biological sense!"
Let's address this question. But first, you may need to know why it's important to you to begin with.
Why Build Muscle and Burn Body fat?
I've been preaching the benefits of hard-core muscle building for years. Now, don't freak out. I'm not saying everyone should be a bodybuilder like me.
What' I'm saying is this:
If you want to gain ONE OUNCE of muscle and shed ONE OUNCE of body fat, guess what my friend?
You are a "bodybuilder". Get over it.
It's okay that you don't want to look like that 300-lb behemoth drug-freak on the mag cover.
You're still a 'bodybuilder'. Really.
Bill Phillips made a small fortune with his excellent book "Body For Life." Basically Bill took the fundamentals of bodybuilding and made it appealing to the masses.
He figured something out: everyone likes a "toned" body.
But "toning" is not possible. Sorry...it's a myth."Building" is possible. You can build, or you can lose. That's it.
Homeostasis exists in the laboratory only. In reality, you're gaining or losing.
Body fat or muscle...or both.
So, in order to get the body you want, you want to gain lean muscle. That gives you the curves you seek, plus keeps your bones nice and strong.
You 'also' want to burn off excess body fat. Otherwise you'll never see the muscle you are building.
Once you do that, you're "toned". Or, if you want to, you can keep building and get"big".
Most of you don't want that. I do.
But guess what? It's the same damn thing. Really. I swear to ya! You have to train the same to gain an ounce as you do to gain a million ounces.
Again...get over it. ; )
So, doesn't it make sense that you will want to burn body fat and gain muscle at the same time? Of course.
But can you?
After all, every "science" book out there will tell you that in order to gain muscle, you need to ingest more calories than you consume.
They could not be any more wrong.
I'll tell you why...
Anabolic Energy Pathways
The state your body is in when it is building muscle is called "anabolism." That is where the term "anabolic" comes from.
Perhaps you've heard that associated with"anabolic steroids" and think it's a negative thing.
It's not -- it's vital for your survival.
Babies are highly anabolic...and last time I checked, they are notorious for being drug-free.
Anabolism requires nitrogen. It also requires heat in the form of calories. Calories are, after all, merely a unit of heat.
You have multiple pathways in your body to access this energy. You can ingest it by eating more food, which is usually a bad idea -- or you can use the energy you already have stored on your body.
That's a really, really good idea.
I call this the "anabolic shift." It's a state where your body shifts its preference for energy from ingested energy (food) to stored energy (body fat.)
In short, you become a fat-burning machine.
That body fat has to go somewhere, folks. Assuming you have plenty to burn (most of us do), it can go into meeting the energy needs of the body. And, that includes BUILDING muscle.
I won't quote endless studies on the subject, although there are a few good ones. I'll just use common sense.
If my bodyfat was 12% at 222 pounds in January, and it is 8% at 216 pounds in March, what does this tell you?
That's right: I'm gaining muscle and burning body fat at the same time. Really.
Over three months I personally went from 198lbs of muscle (222 / 1.12) to 200lbs of muscle (216 / 1.08). That's two pounds of muscle gained and lots of body fat burned.
This is not supposed to happen...but it does. All the time.
My system of Caloric Rotation allows for this state of anabolism 'and' catabolism (the burning of body fat) to happen at the same time.
You can read more about how I do this in my book, Fit Over 40, if you don't have it already.
You can find it here --
So remember: set yourself up physically and mentally to burn body fat and USE that energy to build lean muscle at the same time.
Mentally give yourself "permission".
That sounds strange, but it's actually part of my System. The mind must be engaged or the body will not follow.
I cover the Mind Principles in the second chapter of Fit Over 40.
Burn body fat and gain muscle...all at the same time.
The benefit is a better body--faster. And,the more muscle you carry, the more body fat you'll burn.
It's a win-win.
Creator, Co-Author, "Fit Over 40"
I hope you enjoyed Jon's article. I thought it was a great discussion that will open some eyes on this debate about whether you can build muscle and lose fat simultaneously.
If you didn't already, check out John's site, as he's giving away 4 free chapters from his Fit Over 40 book, as well as his complimentary AudioFit series. Here's his site again:
I'll be back in a few days with a couple of my favorite Lean-Body "mid-meals" that I use for convenient and healthy meals when you don't have time to cook.
As always, feel free to copy/paste and email this link to any of your friends, family, or coworkers that you think will enjoy it.
Certified Nutrition Specialist
Certified Personal Trainer
Founder - Truth About Abs .com & Busy Man Fitness .com