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  1. #1

    Losing fat while gaining muscle

    First just a little bit of background about myself. I'm 18 years old and last February I weighed 242 lbs at 5'11. After years of losing 10, then gaining 15 back, I finally decided that it was time to change for the long term. I decided to adopt a whole foods, plant based diet which is virtually a vegan diet. I also began doing cardio roughly 3-4 times a week. By May I had lost about 40 lbs, but with Summer cook outs and barbeques quickly approaching, I decided to start adding some white meat/fish with the occasional red meat back into my diet, but still eating very healthy overall. From then until now, my progress has continued and I am now about 186 lbs.

    At this point, I still definitely have some visible body fat, but considerably less than I did when I started. Now, my goals have shifted from not only losing fat, but also gaining muscle. This leads me to a few questions. I already know how to lose fat. Low caloric intake, combined with cardio, it's that easy, anyone can do it. Gaining muscle however, I am not as familiar with.

    What my main concerns really boil down to is diet. I know that in order to gain muscle, the body needs more calories than would be consumed if simply maintaining weight, and also more protein than normal. For someone with body fat still visible on the body, this concerns me. My two goals seem to be directly contradicting themselves in terms of diet. How should I go about balancing my diet in order to continue to lose fat while gaining muscle?
    Also, now that I am beginning to do weight lifting exercising in order to gain muscle, should I continue with cardio workouts? The majority of my lifting workout consists of compound exercises such as dead lifts, squats, bench press, military press, chin ups, etc.

  2. #2
    Herald of the Titans Beavis's Avatar
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    Off topic: frequent high heart rate cardio actually seems to be pretty overrated for weight loss. Look into a combination of relatively low heart rate cardio and weekly or bi-weekly high intensity interval training.

    On topic: you can definitely gain muscle while losing fat. Remember, fat is stored energy. Simply operating at an energy deficit won't impede your muscle growth if you eat right and time your meals properly. I'd recommend looking into Martin Berkhan's http://www.leangains.com/ and Tom Venuto's http://www.burnthefat.com/
    Last edited by Beavis; 2012-08-16 at 10:59 PM.

  3. #3
    Do you mind sharing your diet so that it's easier to see where adjustments are required. All I can assume is soft drink and fatty foods.

    You want to create a calorie deficit which is a state in which you are burning more calories than you eat. If your body burns 2,500 calories per day and you only eat 2,000, it has to get the extra 500 from your stored energy (fat)

    IMO just weight train, create a calorie defecit and don't worry about muscle mass worry about muscle strength making sure your getting the appropriate amount of protein your body requires and you'll be gaining some muscle and losing fat.
    Last edited by Lyriok; 2012-08-17 at 12:14 AM.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Beavis View Post
    On topic: you can definitely gain muscle while losing fat. Remember, fat is stored energy. Simply operating at an energy deficit won't impede your muscle growth if you eat right and time your meals properly. I'd recommend looking into Martin Berkhan's http://www.leangains.com/ and Tom Venuto's http://www.burnthefat.com/
    As the OP mentions, gaining muscle and burning fat are two contradicting body processes and isn't normally viewed as a viable solution. However, it has been shown that people new to weightlifting can burn fat and build muscle at the same time, the so called beginner gains. If doing both at the same time were possible for an extended time, there would be no reason at all to having the cut and bulk phases.

    To the OP: It's a matter of priority really. If you feel too chubby then theres only one way and thats to continue a calorie deficit. It seems like you have pretty good knowledge on how to archive what you want, now you just need to prioritize and plan how you are going to reach your goals. Do you want to build muscle now and have some decent body mass to when your cutting all the way down, or do you want to cut all the way down and then build your mass.

    You can try and run at a close to calorie deficit and hope that your body answers good to your workouts, however in the long run doing a proper cut and then bulking yields far faster and better results than doing something close to the line. Results come fastest if you only choose 1 thing at a time.

  5. #5
    Herald of the Titans Beavis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Labze View Post
    As the OP mentions, gaining muscle and burning fat are two contradicting body processes and isn't normally viewed as a viable solution. However, it has been shown that people new to weightlifting can burn fat and build muscle at the same time, the so called beginner gains. If doing both at the same time were possible for an extended time, there would be no reason at all to having the cut and bulk phases.
    Isn't that only true if you're already an experienced lifter and at relatively low body fat?

  6. #6
    You can lose body fat and gain muscle at the same time. Progression is slower.

    The reason between different phases " bulking" and "cutting" are because usually your diets change during these phases. Also most people bulk during the winter because your Usually wearing more cloths ie: not going to the beach. Vs the summer you lean out.


    In the past month I have gained 10lbs and lost about 2% body fat. I am doing a lean bulk..

  7. #7
    Losing fat and building muscle is only a viable option for complete beginners as they will build muscle no matter what if they start lifting weights. Past a certain point, however, you can no longer do both at the same time.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Beavis View Post
    Isn't that only true if you're already an experienced lifter and at relatively low body fat?
    Not sure what you mean, if you already have low body fat why would you lose more?

    Quote Originally Posted by nomorepriest View Post
    You can lose body fat and gain muscle at the same time. Progression is slower.

    The reason between different phases " bulking" and "cutting" are because usually your diets change during these phases. Also most people bulk during the winter because your Usually wearing more cloths ie: not going to the beach. Vs the summer you lean out.


    In the past month I have gained 10lbs and lost about 2% body fat. I am doing a lean bulk..
    No you haven't. Unless you're a complete beginner, or use steroids i'll bet my right arm that you haven't gained 10lbs in a month while losing 2% body fat, even at a massive bulk gaining 10lbs in a month is considered largely impossible. Besides, doing a lean bulk doesn't mean your losing body fat, just that you're gaining slowly to avoid an excess increase of body fat. Lean bulk and 10lbs body weight in a month, not possible.

    Studies have proven again and again that, unless you are completely new to weight lifting, building muscles and losing body fat is almost impossible. I say almost since there are exceptions, but they are very short termed. Your body only uses your fat as energy when there isn't enough energy to use from your daily food intake, which means you need a calorie deficit for your body to begin burning your fat. Your body can only build muscle when it has sufficient amounts of energy to keep your body going, think about it. Why would your body use huge amounts of energy if it hadn't enough to keep other body systems functional? This is why you require a calorie surplus to build muscle.

  9. #9
    Oh... Trust me... I have... And it's because one of the reasons you listed.

  10. #10
    I think the best answer is to not worry about doing both.

    Being fit is way more important than being thin. Continue to lift weights as you're doing, if you feel your strength is not increasing at the proper rate you may want to add more calories to your diet, but when you have the calories is at least as important as how much (i.e., try to consume your protein shortly after a workout).

    The important thing to do is make sure you're not going to fatigue your muscles. I don't know if the 48-hour rest recommendation still exists, but it's not a bad idea. If you feel the need to workout daily, either add cardio in-between or split the muscles you work (lower body one day, upper body the next). If you hit plateaus, change up your workout.

    Congratulations, by the way

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Beavis View Post
    Off topic: frequent high heart rate cardio actually seems to be pretty overrated for weight loss. Look into a combination of relatively low heart rate cardio and weekly or bi-weekly high intensity interval training.

    On topic: you can definitely gain muscle while losing fat. Remember, fat is stored energy. Simply operating at an energy deficit won't impede your muscle growth if you eat right and time your meals properly. I'd recommend looking into Martin Berkhan's http://www.leangains.com/ and Tom Venuto's http://www.burnthefat.com/
    Meal time is irrelevant... just saying.

    As for the OP.

    You can gain and lose at the same time although you'll most likely only have noob gains, which is fine, gains are gains.

    And honestly going from a bad diet to a clean diet makes gains easier with fat loss.

    Find out your basic caloric needs to function in a coma, lets just say 2000, start out with this for a week or two and see how you do, after 2-4 weeks cut that down to 1800, I don't suggest going lower than 1700.

    Lift heavy and add in small amounts of cardio AFTER lifting, no more than 15-20 mins, to minimize catabolic states.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Romeo83x View Post
    Losing fat and building muscle is only a viable option for complete beginners as they will build muscle no matter what if they start lifting weights. Past a certain point, however, you can no longer do both at the same time.
    Pretty much this. At a certain point your body will start to burn more muscle than you gain unless you change your diet, but then you will also not lose as much fat.

    It depends on your body. If you are overweight you will burn a buttload of fat, and build a buttload of muscles. As time progress and your body gets more fit, the body will also start to burn muscles to compensate. SO at that point you will have to decide if you want to burn fat or build muscle, and train/eat accordingly.
    Last edited by Proberly; 2012-08-17 at 02:55 PM.

  13. #13
    Losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time is incredibly hard, right at the start it will work fine, but after a while the progress will stop.

    My advice is to do it in "phases" loose the weight you want, change training/diet to gain muscle, and alternate between them as needed (no quick switches, 6 months or so in each "phase")

    But on the note of gaining muscle, cut down a little bit on cardio, join a gym and have someone show you how to lift weights, and increase your protein intake, lots of meat, eggs and various veggies with alot of protein (rare but there are some) somewhat low on fat but not too low, gaining muscle takes alot of energy, and relatively low on carbs.

    It gets alot more advanced, but that's more than good enough to start out with.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Holian View Post
    Losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time is incredibly hard, right at the start it will work fine, but after a while the progress will stop.

    My advice is to do it in "phases" loose the weight you want, change training/diet to gain muscle, and alternate between them as needed (no quick switches, 6 months or so in each "phase")

    But on the note of gaining muscle, cut down a little bit on cardio, join a gym and have someone show you how to lift weights, and increase your protein intake, lots of meat, eggs and various veggies with alot of protein (rare but there are some) somewhat low on fat but not too low, gaining muscle takes alot of energy, and relatively low on carbs.

    It gets alot more advanced, but that's more than good enough to start out with.
    Never go high protein, low fat, low carb. That's a oneway ticket to kidney failure.

  15. #15
    Alright instead of quoting I'm just going to hit on good points people have made so far:


    to gain mass you need to have a calorie surplus
    to lose fat you need have a deficit.

    Strength training should be followed by atleast 48 hours of rest for the muscle groups used to help prevent injury.
    You can achieve that by doing a 3 day split along the lines of chest/tri (monday) back/bi(tuesday), legs/shoulders(wednesday). By Thursday you can do chest and tris again and should have given the muscles enough time to repair. Could also just do a power lift routine monday with squat/chest/chin ups (with a few additional iso excercises thrown in) and then by Thursday do the same routine. You could then put in two days of cardio and hit 4 days of cardio with 2 days of lifting in a week.


    One thing NOT mentioned here is flexibility. You should look into take some sort of yoga/pilates/ tai chi class. All of these promote fluid movement in your body and will improve your flexibility and stability. From going from 240 down sixty pounds you are most likely still carrying the flexibility of your heavier self.

    For diet you should focus on a LARGE breakfast either something like eggs or fruit. The first thing you eat in the morning will determine your glucose load for the day so a solid breakfast carries a long way. Lunch should be full of protein(cheese, nuts, beans, lean meat) and vegetables.

    Dinner should be light with more greens.



    hope what I've covered was informational.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Romeo83x View Post
    Never go high protein, low fat, low carb. That's a oneway ticket to kidney failure.
    Nope, think you are confusing it with hardcore atkins-ish diets with NO carbs, wich eventually leads to liver failure ammong other things, note that i say LOW, not to exclude it completely.

  17. #17
    Thanks for the replies everyone. I think I am just going to try to eat at about a -500 caloric deficit with more protein than before and continue weight training, less cardio. As I stated before, I am 186 lbs, so I'm not completely overweight, just a little more bulge in the mid section than I would like to see. Then again, that could just be excess skin since I have lost about 50 lbs since Feb. And for the person inquruing about my current diet, its generally something like this:

    breakfast: bowl of cereal, such as special-k or fiber one with almond silk
    lunch: can of tuna fish or left-over chicken with either a veggie or a salad
    snack: greek yogurt or a few peanut butter crackers
    dinner: lean meat or a morning star meatless chicken pattie with a vegetable side

    The diet I have been following was more or less a weight loss diet, so I might try to increase the amount of calories and/or protein I'm eating. I really should buy a fat caliper or something to measure my body fat %. I went to cvs and wal mart today to look for one but couldn't find any, the pharmacist I asked didn't even know what it was .

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Rubixz View Post
    breakfast: bowl of cereal, such as special-k or fiber one with almond silk
    lunch: can of tuna fish or left-over chicken with either a veggie or a salad
    snack: greek yogurt or a few peanut butter crackers
    dinner: lean meat or a morning star meatless chicken pattie with a vegetable side
    Unless the portions are enormous this sounds more than a -500 calorie deficit. Also you won't be building any muscle mass while in constant -500 deficit.
    This menu will probably cut a lot of weight though.

  19. #19
    To be able to gain muscle and lose fat you have to be at a slight deficit, you cant be in a 500 calorie deficit and do it unless you have NO muscle mass and NO prior experience in lifting. To do this you should only have about 100 deficit. Yes results will take much much longer but they will come.
    And you seriously need to fix your diet.

  20. #20
    Herald of the Titans Yilar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rubixz View Post
    Thanks for the replies everyone. I think I am just going to try to eat at about a -500 caloric deficit with more protein than before and continue weight training, less cardio. As I stated before, I am 186 lbs, so I'm not completely overweight, just a little more bulge in the mid section than I would like to see. Then again, that could just be excess skin since I have lost about 50 lbs since Feb. And for the person inquruing about my current diet, its generally something like this:

    breakfast: bowl of cereal, such as special-k or fiber one with almond silk
    lunch: can of tuna fish or left-over chicken with either a veggie or a salad
    snack: greek yogurt or a few peanut butter crackers
    dinner: lean meat or a morning star meatless chicken pattie with a vegetable side

    The diet I have been following was more or less a weight loss diet, so I might try to increase the amount of calories and/or protein I'm eating. I really should buy a fat caliper or something to measure my body fat %. I went to cvs and wal mart today to look for one but couldn't find any, the pharmacist I asked didn't even know what it was .
    If you want to look into bulking up you should look into adding plain nuts such as hazelnuts or almonds to your snacks.

    Oh and wtf is a meatless chicken pattie?

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