Most people who join the gym have the same goal: increase muscle mass and lose fat at the same time, preferably as quick as possible. But is it possible to link these two processes and are these easy goals to achieve in the long-term? There are split opinions on this one; some believe it is easy, some don’t.
There are no miracles, only work, effort, dedication and kind servings of patience ‘till results start showing up. These are processes with results on the long-term (months) and that’s why many people quit right after they start.
Is it possible to do both? It depends on every person’s body but you should take into account that, the bigger your body fat index is, the harder it is to provide the necessary anabolism to your body, because the excess of fat causes resistance to insulin, which is one of the most anabolic hormones in the human body. This means that, in the beginning, the best is to choose a low-calorie diet plan and initiate a cardio workout plan until you reach a low body fat index. After that, you start working on your muscles, along with some cardio work. This is the most consensual process that you will make your body respond better to stimuli.
Taking into account that even diet plans vary accordingly to the goal, there are no doubts that you should face the process as two distinct stages. To lose fat you will have to take in a more reduced number of calories a day. As for the stage of muscle building, it requires a different methodology, a hyperproteic diet (that will ensure that your muscles will be receiving the right amount of aminoacids for muscle maintenance and construction), and you have a better chance of complementing if you resort to anti-catabolic nutritional supplements. The more muscle you have, the more calories they will need. In average, 1kg of muscle needs six times more calories than 1kg of fat. If you gain muscle and keep a caloric restriction, the muscle will end up disappearing, because the body fat is not enough for the muscle mass.
In case you want to lose between 2kg to 3kg, you may start by increasing muscle mass right now, because you will without a doubt lose that excess in a medium term. Choose to do 20 minutes of running after each weight workout so you can reduce the body fat in excess.
In case you want to lose 5kg or more, you should alternate between weight training and cardio. Keep a protein consumption around 1,5/2g per kg of body weight (Ex: 60kg corresponds to a daily protein amount of 120g) and try to work every muscle group. Your muscles will get stronger, avoiding the loss of muscle mass. In case you don’t have any availability to alternate between workouts, perform the weight training first and then the cardio workout. A good combo of both is swimming, because you will be able to burn calories and tone the body at the same time.
A frequent question
Will I increase muscle mass while I am on the weight loss program?
Some athletes think that they are increasing their muscle mass while they are trying to loose fat, but usually what happens is that there’s a bigger toning of muscle mass. In running, for example, the legs and the core are subjected to a lot of pressure, once they are moving and supporting all the weight in the body. This muscular work ends up toning the muscles, leaving them stronger and creating the illusion that you are making your muscles grow, while you see your weight coming down.
Body fat loss
The excess of body bat represents a few negative factors to your health – increases the predisposition for chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension or cancer – and to your performance – the excess of fat acts as a dead weight that athletes need to carry, decreasing their functional ability, besides making thermoregulation harder during the exercise. The recommended levels of fat for adults are comprised between 5 – 15% and 12 – 28%, for man and women, respectively.
Weight loss should be planned in such a way to make it happen gradually through an energetic deficit of 500 – 1000 kcal a day, which will allow you to loose in average 0,5/1kg per week.
Recommendation: When it comes to men, the goal is to reach 10% of body fat to be able to start weight workouts. When it comes to women, they should at first reach 12% of body fat to start working on muscle hypertrophy while following, at the same time, a diet that comprises 40% carbs, 40% protein and 20% healthy fats.
READ ALSO: Take a look at the best carbs for your weight loss plan
Basic Weight Loss Pack
– Isolate Whey Protein
This protein contains low levels of fat, carbs, cholesterol and lactose. It will essentially help to recover muscle fibers after an intense workout, and will help to reinforce the immune system and to increase the levels of antioxidants in your body.
Main functions of a thermogenic: suppression of the appetite, acceleration of the body metabolism to provide a favorable environment to the burning of fat, transformation of the nutrients into energy, mainly the ones of hypercaloric origin.
Additional Supplements for Weight Loss
Conjugated Linoleic Acid is an essential fatty acid that comes from the omega 6 family. It’s a supplement with several functions. It controls the levels of insulin in the blood, helps with the reduction of abdominal fat, helps to tone up the body, strengthens the immune system, decreases the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides and enhances the increase of muscle tissue.
L-Carnitine is has the function of transporting the fats to the mitochondria of the cells. This process will make your body use the fat as an energy source and, subsequently, it will make you reduce the fat. Besides that, it improves your cardio system, prevents catabolism, has an antioxidant effect, prevents the loss of bone mass and promotes the increase of muscle mass.
Increase of Lean Body Mass
The difficulty of acquiring muscle mass can be frustrating when workouts don’t seem to translate into any results. Pay attention! Gaining muscle mass requires hard work, discipline, routine, a proper nutrition, intense workouts, resting and a combination of supplements that correspond to the needs of every particular case. The increase of muscle mass is only possible when this synergy exists. Weight training will not only help you attain muscle mass, but it will also increase your metabolic rhythm and enhance calorie burn even when you’re at rest, will ensure a better joint stability, prevent injuries, decrease pain, will provide a better hormonal functioning, increase bone mass, among other positive aspects.
Note: It is never too much to point out that you should consume at least 1,5L of water a day. Water is essential for the muscles to work properly.
Basic Pack for the Increase of Lean Muscle Mass
The creatine’s primary function is to increase the ability of the muscle to execute the movements without losing power during short periods of intense exercises. It also helps with muscle recovery and enhances muscle mass gains and the size of the fibers.
– Whey Protein
Whey Protein is digested quickly by the body because it contains a rich source of nitrogen and BCAAs that are essential to the growth, maintenance and recovery of the muscles. It is a complete protein because it gives the body every necessary aminoacid type. It promotes the increase of muscle mass and protein synthesis, helps with muscle recovery, stimulates fat loss and reduces the stress level and the cortisol effect.
Additional Supplements for the Increase of Lean Muscle Mass
Essential for muscle construction and for the increase of energy in muscle cells, they act against metabolism and speed up muscle recovery.
It is particularly important for people who try to maintain and increase muscle mass. This effect may be associated with the muscle’s ability to receive water for the cells, which stimulates protein synthesis. Besides that, it helps to decrease the muscles’ post-workout stress and removes the excess of ammonia in the body.
Due to its complex structure, casein takes more time to be absorbed by the body, and its use is indicated for periods when you’re deprived from food for a long time. It helps to avoid the loss of muscle mass.
David Diaz Gil, ¿Perder grasa y ganar músculo a la vez?, 19th of July of 2011, translation and adaptation of the original version
Fernando Ribeiro, O que fazer primeiro, ganhar músculo ou perder gordura?, 21st of October 2013, translation and adaptation of the original version
Hugo Rivera, Can you lose fat and gain muscle at the same time? Learn the truth!, 12th of January 2007, translation and adaptation of the original version
N/d, Ganhar músculo ou perder gordura?, 3rd of April 2013, translation and adaptation of the original version
N/d, Ganhar massa muscular ou perder gordura primeiro?, 8th of April 2013, translation and adaptation of the original version
Rodolfo Peres, É possível ganhar massa muscular e perder gordura corporal ao mesmo tempo?, 28th of October 2013, translation and adaptation of the original version