One of the most FAQ off new fitness ambitious is whether they can lose body fat and build muscle mass at the same time -If there is a time saving shortcut to reach both goals at the same time; why not to go for it right! And the answer to that is shortly: Yes.
Can I really do it?
Not only that many studies have positively shown that people who are committed to sound nutrition and exercise plan (while adhering to certain techniques which we will shortly explain) did actually reduce body fat mass and increase muscle mass as a sum within couple of months period, it is actually recommended that you build muscle mass to speed up fat burning even outside the working out hours (i.e. at rest).
The rational behind that recommendation is that when you do low to moderate activities; fat is the primary source of energy for the working muscles, and the more muscles you have the more calories “as fat” you burn in any given time, which correlates to Basal Metabolic Rate BMR. Meaning: building muscles and burning fat at the same time “as a net result”.
It would be worth to mention though that the leaner the person, the more difficult to see significant results, fatter individuals would spot results faster.
How to lose fat and build muscle at the same time?
The answer to this lies in three words: Training, Nutrition and Timing. Let’s break this apart one by one.
1) Smart Training
To stimulate the anabolic phase of muscles (hypertrophy), while emphasizing fat burning, you need a combination of strength and aerobic training. Certain training techniques must take place to build muscles mass:
- Reps and weights: do moderate number of reps, 6-12, with weights that fall in the range of 55% to 85% of your 1RM (which is the maximum weight you can carry for 10 reps in an exercise such as bench press and leg press).
- Training frequency: allow 48 to 72 hours between training sessions for the same muscle group (without enough rest the muscles can’t build new tissue).
- Rest: growth hormones levels can be increased by applying –beside the previously mentioned points- a short period of rest (1 min) between sets, but the heavier the weights lifted the more rest is required between sets.
- Cardio: a 20 to 40 minutes cardio, 3 times per week is excellent to burn more calories, enhance nutrients and oxygen delivery to tissues, and aid muscle recovery after strength training.
Know more about How to design personal exercise program.
2) Sound Nutrition
It would be safe to say that without sound nutrition plan, it is merely impossible to trigger fat burning and muscle gaining even with an excellent workout plan. And for that; we strongly recommend you follow the Zig- Zag calorie diet approach (i.e. caloric cycling) in planning your diet.
The reason for this is that creating caloric deficit diet by omitting the same amount of calories every day would promote fat burning (catabolism) but wouldn’t allow the chance for anabolism (muscle gaining), but by cycling your calories you allow chance for muscle building as well.
That was about quantity, now about quality, make sure that caloric restriction comes from fat mainly and simple carbs, not protein, to know more about healthy selections of foods, get to know Food groups.
3) Right Timing
Timing of your training days, days of higher caloric intake and meals around the training sessions has a huge impact on results you get, follow these main guidelines that would help you optimize your efforts:
- If doing cardio and strength in the same day, start with strength first, so you would do exercises with maximum glycogen reservoir.
- Meal that precedes training session better be separated by at least 1:30 - 2 hours minimum, to avoid stomach cramps and indigestion.
- Do training sessions in days of higher caloric intake of the week.
Lifestyle transformation is about habits too, so try to acquire these habits that help you in weight loss in the long run.