Losing fat and gaining muscle is the best way to transform your body and look lean and fit. However, before we get into this there’s one thing we want to stress. Losing fat and building muscle does not always equal losing weight. In fact, for the first couple of weeks, your weight will probably stay the same and you won’t be seeing much difference on the scales. But you will be seeing changes in your body.
The process of losing fat while gaining muscle is known as body recomposition. For many people wanting to get fit – this is exactly what they need. But they think it’s impossible because the requirement for losing fat is a calorie deficit and in order to gain muscle, you need a calorie surplus. It does sound pretty confusing when you put it like that. However, it’s very much possible and this is how you do it.
When it comes to food it’s important to realize your current state and your goals. If you already are pretty lean and just want to look more toned, it’s best to keep your calories at the maintenance level. If you have a lot of fat to lose then make sure your meals keep you in a slight calorie deficit. Slight is the key word here. You don’t want to go into a massive calorie deficit because that will just make you feel exhausted and you won’t have enough energy to exercise and build muscle.
Another thing you need to keep in mind is that protein is your biggest friend here. It’ll keep you feeling full, it’ll help you build muscle and it’s the most important nutrient to keep track of. Your goal is to eat enough protein to build muscle, which is generally about 1.5 grams per kilogram of your current weight. It might not sound like a lot, but for those who aren’t used to it this can be quite a challenge, so make sure to start building your meals with protein (lean meat, fish, eggs, tofu, tempeh, legumes) and then work around that to add healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, etc) and carbs (vegetables are your best friends here).
Building muscle is all about resistance training. You can’t really build muscle by doing the same workout every day, at the same pace, with the same weight, or the same amount of reps. Your body will adapt to that very quickly and you won’t be seeing any results. You need to gradually increase those things, that’s the only way to build muscle. So either gradually increase the weights you’re lifting over time, or you could just increase the number of reps you do each time (this is a good tactic for beginners).
Progressive overload is your best source of motivation when you’re trying to build muscle while losing fat. Instead of tracking your progress by looking at the scales (which won’t be very satisfying, since there will be little change in numbers there), you can track your progress in the number of reps you can do or the amount you can lift, which can be incredibly rewarding
But what about cardio? This is the question many people have since we’ve all been conditioned to think that to lose fat you need to do cardio. Well, we’ve got some good news for those of you who hate cardio. You don’t have to exhaust yourself by running or doing HIIT. If you’re eating at a slight deficit or maintaining calories and doing resistance training you’re already losing fat. If you add grueling cardio to that you will start losing muscle and you don’t want to do that. Instead, just focus on moving around enough, walking is best for fat loss. Just get those 10k steps in.
This is the best part. If you’re a beginner and have never really done resistance training you will be seeing the best and quickest results. This is what most people call newbie gains, which basically means you’ll be gaining muscle easily at first. Use this to motivate your fitness journey. Those who are used to lifting weights and are pretty advanced when it comes to resistance training will have to work much harder and lift heavier to gain more muscle mass.
Forget About Scales
This is one of the most important lessons to keep in mind – don’t use the scales to track your progress. You’re doing two things at once here, you’re losing fat and you’re gaining muscle. Fat is way lighter than muscle, so your scales will either not show progress at all or they might say you’ve gained weight because muscle is heavier. The best way to track your progress is by doing body measurements. You’ll be surprised how resistance training can make you shed inches in your waist while adding some very much appreciated muscles in your glutes giving you that gorgeous round butt. It’s a win-win if you ask me.