Can You Lose Fat And Get Muscle At The Same Time?
I am asked regularly about the best way to lose weight, and usually this is related to the latest fad diets. Another common question is: “What is the best way to take muscle mass”. But, from time to time, I am asked how to have both: “Can you take muscle and lose weight at the same time? To this question, I used to answer no (everyone may be wrong), but the results of a recent scientific study suggest the opposite.
Before giving you the Holy Grail of weight loss and simultaneous muscle intake, I will explain the reasoning that made me say that the two were not compatible. For this, there are several basic concepts that need to be understood. The most important thing being the distinction between the loss of body weight versus the loss of body fat.
Losing weight is easy, but losing fat is difficult
Most people mistakenly believe that when they lose weight, they automatically lose fat. Well no. In reality, unless you have a thorough knowledge of dietetics and do things right, there is very little chance of losing much. Here’s why.
Losing fat is a slow and time- consuming process … There are many reasons for this, but the biggest thing is that the body loves fat and hangs on it when you try to get rid of it. Why ? Stored fat is stored energy, and your body knows that survival depends on having a sufficient and continuous supply of energy. Therefore, the loss of energy stored as fat is interpreted by your body as a threat to your ability to survive . This is why your body will do everything possible to thwart your efforts.
Another factor is that fat is an incredibly concentrated energy source. Only 350 g of fat provides 3150 kcal, enough energy to power a marathon runner during these 42,195 km. With all this in mind, you can realize how hard it is to burn just 1 kilo of fat, and why this may take a while.
Fast Weight Loss = Muscle Loss
Losing weight (not fat) can be quick and easy by following a drastic diet, which plunges you into a semi-starvation state. With a very low intake of calories, your body will try to save and keep its stored energy as long as possible , always in order to ensure its survival. One way to do this is to get rid of muscle mass, because it is the tissue that consumes the most energy. Less muscle mass results in a lower basal metabolic rate (basal metabolism), which allows the body to burn fewer calories per day …
Therefore, when you brutalize your body with a draconian diet, it first loses muscle mass, and will do so impatiently and quickly. How fast? The muscle can be lost much faster than fat because 350 g of muscle provides only about 540 kcal usable, which means that you can burn muscle five times faster than the fat that brings 3150 kcal usable for the same mass.
Loss of fat or muscle gain
To lose fat and limit muscle loss, my advice would be to slightly reduce caloric intake to lose body fat little by little. This is what all bodybuilders do in preparation before a contest. Indeed, the rule of weight loss is: caloric intake must be lower than the calories burned. In other words, the energy balance must be negative: the body must burn more calories than what is provided by the diet. And as we have just seen, it will not be necessary to reduce the number of calories too much, at the risk of losing muscle quickly.
Conversely, to gain muscle mass, one must increase the caloric intake, because the “manufacture” of the muscle requires a lot of energy. Until then, do you agree with me?
By following this logic, if you have limited your calorie intake with a slightly low calorie diet, there is not enough energy available to gain muscle? Well, with all that said, and the solidity of applied logic, a new scientific study has come to question the certainty of this reasoning. The results of the study suggest that a precise strategy can both help to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time.
Taking muscle, strength and losing fat at the same time
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in January 2016 1 , revealed exceptional results. Researchers at McMaster University in Canada have studied 40 young men with the goal of losing body fat and eventually gaining muscle mass at the same time. The subjects were divided into two groups. In each group, the number of calories consumed was the same: it was about 40% less than the daily calorie requirements compared to baseline metabolism plus the amount of energy related to physical activity. One group received a very high amount of protein (2.4 g per kg of body weight per day). The other group received 1.2 g per kg of body weight per day. To put this protein in perspective, the recommended daily intake for an adult lambda who does not sport is 0.8 g per kilogram of body weight per day.
As mentioned above, a group of people in this study consumed 2.4 g per kg body weight of proteins, or 215 g of protein per day. Although this represents an enormous amount of protein, but at 4 calories per gram, this represents only 860 calories per day. Thus, it was possible to maintain total calorie intake in deficit. Both groups trained very intensively: six days a week for one month with a strength training combined with high intensity interval training (HIIT). On top of that, he had to stay active the rest of the day. For this, the number 10,000 steps per day was carried out, that is to say approximately 7,5 km of walk per day. The results were truly impressive. The group that took a very high dose of protein (2.4 g / kg body weight) lost 4.5 kg of fat and gained almost 1 kilo of muscle at the same time. The other group (1.2 g / kg body weight) also had good results in losing 3.6 kg of fat. BUT, participants did not gain muscle mass. The two groups also took strength for the exercises tested: leg extension, developed bench press, number of pumps and sit-ups.
I understand that keeping a high protein intake, and doing weight training helps at least maintain muscle mass despite a low calorie diet. On the other hand, I must admit, I am a bit skeptical about the muscle mass gain during a low calorie diet, and I would like to see this study reproduced several times, but for now I will accept the Results because they were published in a reputable scientific journal.
In conclusion, the next time I am asked if you can lose fat and get muscle at the same time, I will answer yes, but be careful, it can be more than trying with a low-calorie diet Protein, low in carbohydrates and lipids) associated with 6 days of intensive training per week, with 7.5 km of walk per day.
The magic formula
Having a subscription to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, I was able to get the full protocol of the experiment. I could have done like most people on the internet: sell you this information as a program in a phony ebook. But to thank you for reading this article so far, I will give you a bonus and exclusive more details about the magic formula of muscle intake and simultaneous fat loss.
Here are the total caloric intakes per kilogram body weight per day including post-workout snacks:
- Protein: 2.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 3.1 g
- Lipids: 0.4 g
Calorie composition of post-training snacks: 49 g of protein, 48 g of carbohydrate, 2 g of lipid.
- 10,000 steps each day (measurable with a pedometer).
- 1 bodybuilding training 6 days a week.
- 2 HIIT sessions per week.
- 1 session per week during which it was necessary to burn as fast as possible 250 KJ on a stationary bike.
Bodybuilding Training Protocol :
Entire body training in 3 days repeated twice a week. During the sessions, the exercises were done in circuit (without rest between the exercises). Each circuit consisted of 3 sets of 10 repetitions at 80% of the RM, with 1 minute of rest between the sets. The last sets of each exercise was carried out to failure, that is, just before death ensued.
HIIT Protocol :
- Sprint Interval Training (SIT) similar to the Wingate test: 8 pedaling cycles (on a Wingate Velotron Racemate) at maximum intensity for 30 seconds (with a resistance of 0.075 kg / kg body weight) with 4 minutes rest between Sessions.
- High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): 10 sprint periods of 1 minute with 1 minute rest between sprints.
- Plyometric exercises in circuit with body weight with 30 seconds of rest between the exercises.
There, you know everything ! You may have noticed that the list of exercises for the weight training and plyometry program is missing. Unfortunately, they are not detailed. In any case, I specify that all this information is given as an indication. The athletes were informed of the potential risks (not communicated) and were followed almost 24/24 by the scientists. This kind of program (with such a calorie deficit) is probably not to be done year round and especially not without medical advice …