Lose Fats and Acquire Muscle (On the Similar Time)


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

That they only can’t be finished concurrently.

To this, I say, “Hogwash!”

We’ve tons of success tales from our on-line teaching purchasers who’ve been in a position to do each concurrently:

And that’s what we’ll cowl in at the moment’s information!

We’ll accomplish that by discussing:

Plus, I’ve tons of candy LEGO photographs and foolish gifs on their manner, which is all the time 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 doable, so long as you observe the precise plan.

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

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

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

Learn extra about his unimaginable story!

Nevertheless, as I discussed within the intro, you’ll typically hear that shedding fats whereas gaining muscle is inconceivable. The argument goes that it’s best 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 may be problematic, we have to discover each processes.

Let’s contemplate the next factors:

  • To lose fats, your physique must 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 supplies the vitality your physique requires to restore and construct larger muscular tissues.

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

Nevertheless, if we go a number of steps deeper into the science, it IS doable!

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 in the case of shedding physique fats.

The easy 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’re consuming, you’re 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 vitality necessities.

(When you’re curious, you’ll be able to calculate your day by day caloric wants right here).

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

Stated once more: when you’re consuming a caloric deficit, your physique will pull from each its fats shops AND present muscle for vitality.

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 desire that your physique doesn’t break down muscle when in a caloric deficit, and as a substitute actually focuses on utilizing fats shops as a substitute.[3]

I make this level for a motive: your objective in health shouldn’t solely be “weight reduction,” regardless of the frequent 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 a substitute is to scale back physique fats whereas additionally retaining the muscle you’ve gotten (and even constructing extra muscle).

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

Because of this there’s a large marketplace for gadgets that supposedly assess your physique fats share.

By lowering your complete fats in your physique, OR growing muscle mass, you’ll find yourself with a decrease physique fats share (it’s only a easy ratio of fats to all the pieces 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 focus on recommendations on retaining 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.

It’s possible you’ll be asking, “Steve, what’s simpler to do? Burn extra energy or eat much less?”

Good query.

Numbers will assist inform the story: although it is 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 every week (a worthy, sustainable objective for some), you must 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 below 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 5 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 right down to food regimen.

It’s considerably simpler and time-efficient to eat 500 fewer energy than it’s to burn 500 extra energy.

As Time journal controversially identified – with tons of cited research – “train alone gained’t make you skinny.” 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 information to The CICO Weight loss plan

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

To lose physique fats, you must watch what you eat, and accomplish that in a sustainable manner.

Right here at Nerd Health, we’re agency believers that 80-90% of the fat-loss equation comes right down to food regimen (try 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 sometimes low in energy in comparison with their processed counterparts. Which implies you get stuffed up with out overeating.


Have you ever ever seen the distinction between 200 energy of broccoli and 200 energy of a bagel? WiseGEEK does a fantastic 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 whole bagel, no drawback. Plates of broccoli, with all the fiber, are a lot harder to overeat.

We lay all of it out in our Newbie’s Information to Wholesome Consuming. It’ll present recommendations on learn how to steadily create habits that get you to a “REAL meals” manner of consuming, together with correct portion sizes, recommendations on 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 develop into everlasting.

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

It’s a technique we work intently with our teaching purchasers on: small dietary changes they really feel comfy making. It’s how a few of them have been in a position to lose 50-100 kilos!

Let me clarify once more: what you eat will probably 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 need to elevate heavy issues and make sure that your physique has sufficient energy and protein to adapt by constructing extra muscle.

In our Newbie’s Information to Constructing Muscle and Energy, I summarize it as follows:

  • Elevate heavy issues
  • Eat a food regimen primarily based in your targets
  • Relaxation so your physique can get better

Let’s chat about every one shortly.

#1) Elevate heavy issues

I’ll all the time be on Staff Energy Coaching. When you’re seeking to construct muscle, you’re gonna must elevate heavy issues.

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

While you elevate an object (or your individual body weight) sufficient occasions, your muscular tissues attain the purpose of failure. This causes your muscular tissues to tear and breakdown.

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

And once more.

And once more.

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

Unsure the place to begin on a Energy Coaching apply? No drawback! You’ll be able to obtain our free information Energy Coaching 101: All the things You Have to Know while you be part of the Riot (our free neighborhood) under:

#2) Eat a food regimen primarily based in your targets

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

Simply know that consuming the precise amount of meals will probably be an enormous a part of gaining muscle.  

#3) Relaxation

Your physique rebuilds itself when you sleep, so ensure you get loads of relaxation every evening. I’m speaking 7-8+ hours. This may 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 quick gist of learn how to construct energy: problem your muscular tissues, eat properly, and get some relaxation.

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

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

Find out how to 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 prefer 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 children will name their dwelling.

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

It’s virtually 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: daily 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 type these energy into considered one of three homes:[6]

A. Burn for Gas.

B. Rebuild Muscle.

C. Retailer as Fats.

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

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

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

That is your “Basal Metabolic Price” 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: While you overeat energy and your physique doesn’t want anymore to gas itself, it takes these additional energy and shops them as fats.

Nevertheless, our objective is the OPPOSITE of this.

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

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

  1. You energy prepare commonly, and your muscular tissues break down and must 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 Gas” 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 getting 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 finished, together with your day by day capabilities as a human and rebuilding the muscle you tore aside.

Stated one other manner:

In case you have fats shops (and all of us do), you do not want to be in a “caloric surplus” to rebuild muscle. The energy saved in your fats cells act as this required vitality.

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

Which means larger muscular tissues with a decrease belt measurement.[8]

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

Nevertheless, if you wish to skip all of the experimentation and trial and error, you’ll be able to have a Nerd Health Coach do all of the heavy lifting for you (probably not, you’ll nonetheless must work out).


Superhero Couple. Male and female superheroes. Cloudy sky.

Let’s carry 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 sufficient protein to rebuild its muscle.

You’ll be able to solely lose fats for those who’re in a calorie deficit.

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

Bear 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 a substitute. So eat lower than you burn persistently. 

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

  1. Newbie’s Information to Wholesome Consuming. If you need ideas and tips to create habits primarily based on REAL meals, that information will assist get you there.
  2. Figuring out the Good Weight loss plan 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 you must make.
  3. Depend energy: This implies studying your complete day by day vitality expenditure, and monitoring your different energy by way of an app (and/or weighing your meals).

You don’t need to 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 proper right here.

#2) Energy prepare

When you might promote a tablet that may very well be prescribed to each single particular person on Earth to make them more healthy, it will look one thing like a energy coaching 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 finest issues you are able to do in your physique.[9]   

And actually, for those who wish to construct muscle, you’re gonna must elevate one thing! Both weights or your individual body weight.

It is advisable problem your muscular tissues to ensure that them to get stronger. Now, as we focus on in our article on the appropriate variety of reps and units, there are a number of methods to take action.

To construct muscle:

Elevate lighter weights for plenty of reps.

Elevate actually heavy with fewer reps.

The necessary factor: decide a technique and get began.

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

Listed below are 3 paths ahead:

  1. Begin with a newbie body weight exercise.
  2. Observe considered one of our 5 Newbie Energy Coaching Routines.
  3. Undergo our 6 Degree Fitness center Exercises.

To recap: for those who prepare heavy and eat a caloric deficit, your physique will pull from its fats shops to each gas itself and probably additionally construct muscle. This can be a double whammy of AWESOME.

#3) Prioritize protein

Exterior of being in a caloric deficit and lifting weights (or your self), consuming sufficient protein is without doubt one of the key elements 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 lower out energy to create a caloric deficit, don’t lower them from protein sources.

Research have proven that contributors can achieve 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 muscular tissues when you are in a caloric deficit, you must eat loads of protein.[12]

How a lot protein?

As we level out in our Information 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 needs 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 Health Teaching, the place we assist purchasers lose physique fats, achieve muscle, and degree up their lives. We offer tailor-made and particular suggestions primarily based in your physique and life-style, plus accountability and mindset modifications 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.

Bear 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’ll be able to construct muscle even whereas in a deficit.

It’s possible you’ll be pondering, “That’s all properly and good Steve, however what’s that really seem like?” 

It seems to be like this!

If your meal plate looks like this, you're doing great!

Taken from our Information to Begin Consuming Wholesome, which I actually 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 (measurement 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 is able to allow you to keep a caloric deficit over time.

Let’s hone in on protein for a second, as a result of it’s the crucial 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 huge plant-based information!

A serving of protein is concerning the measurement 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 burden, bringing it right 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 need you to pay additional consideration to your protein consumption since we try to construct muscle. 

When you’re having hassle making your protein consumption targets, try our Information on Protein Dietary supplements for some ideas and tips to up your consumption, together with some superior smoothie recipes.

That is the precise technique I adopted to lose 22 kilos and get to single-digit bodyfat share WHILE constructing muscle:

  • Elevate tremendous heavy.
  • Eat LOTS of protein.
  • Scale back carb and fats consumption.

In case you are NOT losing a few pounds, it means you’re nonetheless consuming too many energy. Preserve your protein consumption excessive, and cut back your fats and carbohydrate consumption. 

I cowl this in larger element in our “why can’t I shed pounds?” information.

Finally, you’ll attain a standing the place there simply isn’t sufficient fats on you to assist with “Rebuild Muscle.” At this stage, you’ll be able to not stick with a caloric deficit. You’ll must flip to a slight “caloric surplus” to construct extra muscle.

Which implies you’ll need to eat extra.

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

It’s debatable when this can truly happen, and we’re all totally different. Reaching 8% physique fats for males and 16% physique fats for ladies is an effective place to begin.

I speak about this extensively in our information “Find out how to Construct Muscle.”

It covers methods to extend your energy for muscle achieve, from consuming plentiful quantities of Paleo meals to consuming sufficient milk to make Santa Clause jealous.

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

Go test it out for those who’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 offender.

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

If you need an knowledgeable who will inform you precisely when to eat roughly, try our 1-on-1 On-line Teaching 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 won’t go down. You would possibly even weigh extra!

Regardless of weighing extra, you may probably have a greater 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 facet photographs in your mirror, sporting underwear or a washing go well with. Every week, take new photographs, and document the quantity on the size below the identical situation. Two types of monitoring right here enable us to get the total image.

The dimensions generally lies!

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

It’s possible you’ll end up shedding some fats and gaining muscle.

If not, observe every class:

Knowledge 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 could be useful too.

Oftentimes for those who’re not seeing desired outcomes, notes and record-keeping can assist level us within the course to make changes.

Check your assumptions if issues don’t look like on observe. Right here’s our Information on Monitoring Health Progress so that you can be taught extra.

The information outlined above will get you began shedding fats whereas constructing muscle, however for those who’re seeking to go a bit additional…

#1) If you need step-by-step steering on learn how to shed pounds, eat higher, and get stronger, try our killer 1-on-1 teaching program:

#2) If you need an actual blueprint for getting in form, try NF Journey. Our enjoyable habit-building app helps you train extra often, eat more healthy, and degree up your life (actually).

Strive your free trial proper right here:

#3) Enlist within the Riot! We’ve a free electronic mail publication that we ship out twice per week, stuffed with ideas and tips that will help you get wholesome, get robust, and have enjoyable doing so. 

I’ll additionally ship you tons of free guides that you should utilize to begin 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 tips in the case of shedding physique fats and constructing muscle?

Share it with us!


PS: Be sure you learn the remainder of the articles in our “Find out how to Lose Weight 101” Collection!


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, bounce


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