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While you struggle to lose weight, these questions must have surely crossed your mind – Can I gain muscle at the same time? Should I try to gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously?
Yes, in most cases you can lose fat and gain muscle mass at the same time. It’s not easy and it takes time but is certainly achievable.
Common wisdom tells us that gaining muscle and losing fat are mutually exclusive goals. Gaining muscle mass means bulking up by increasing the intake of calories. Whereas losing fat means consuming a calorie deficit diet to look leaner.
However, it is only partially true that building muscle needs increased calorie intake and you do gain weight. The calorie excess required to gain muscle is minuscule in comparison to the calorie deficit required to lose fat. If you have to restrict your diet by say 1000 calorie a day to lose fat, you might need only 100 calories to gain muscle, making the calorie deficit to 900 a day for fat loss and muscle gain. That’s not bad at all.
Let’s move to the next part of the question, should you lose fat and gain muscle? Why is it important?
Building muscle has a crucial effect on your metabolism. People with more muscle have higher basal metabolic rate. Basal metabolic rate is the number of calories your body uses to carry on daily functions like breathing, maintaining body temperature, cell regrowth and repair, to name a few. High basal metabolic rate ensures burning more calories throughout the day, even in the state of rest.
So now that I have your complete attention, let’s take a look at the ways to achieve this change in body composition –
- Include more protein in your diet. Research shows that high protein intake during an energy deficit combined with rigorous exercise promotes increased muscle mass and fat loss. Since muscle tissues are made up from amino acids, during low supple of amino acid from food, our body starts burning up muscles to meet the requirement. Regular intake of protein ensures that you are meeting the requirement through food rather than breaking down of muscles.
- Ensure that you reduce the calorie intake to stimulate the brain into switching to starvation mode. The body burns your fat stores in the starvation mode to get energy. However, you should slowly and carefully cut down only 10% of your daily calorie requirement. If you drastically cut down the calories, you can risk the burning of muscles instead of the fat.
- Eat a balanced and nutritious diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, unprocessed whole foods, omega-3, good fats like avocado along with plenty of water.
- Include supplements like Forskolin, protein mixes, CLA, green tea and caffeine. These are well studied, safe and effective supplements that can help you reach your goals faster.
- Burn more calories with regular exercising that includes aerobics and strength training (read clinical study here). Physical activity is the best way to lose fat without losing muscle.
- Take good rest. A good sleep routine is important to balance your hormones like leptin and ghrelin that have direct impact on your metabolism and appetite.
- Eat small meals at regular interval. Always eat your dinner atleast 3 hours prior to going to bed to give your liver and hormones a break.
Losing fat while gaining muscle is not easy for advanced level bodybuilders who have already reached their full potential. Another important point to note is that rate of muscle building is much slower than the rate of fat loss.
There is no magic bullet to help you lose fat fast, so do not base your fat loss goals on dietary supplements alone. The fundamental principle is to increase your activity level and watch your diet.