Muscle & Strength — Build the ultimate physique: 13 ways to strip

Building muscle while losing fat

Lose Weight / October 15, 2020

Question: Is it possible to stay at the same weight and replace fat weight with LBM, by making decent strength gains over time? (i.e by not actually leaning out and then mass packing etc). Can the body use the extra calories that are needed for new muscle gain from existing fat stores on the body? I’m assuming this is the case for beginners, but how about intermediates/advanced trainees? If so, roughly what sort of time frame would be needed to say drop 10lbs fat and replace with the same amount in muscle? Thanks.

Answer: I’m willing to argue that if there is a single question (or related set of questions) that comes up perennially in the field of training and nutrition, it’s something akin to the above. The idea of ‘gaining muscle while losing fat’ in general or, better yet ‘replacing every pound of fat lost with muscle’ is sort of the holy grail of training and nutrition and a great deal of approaches that are supposed to generate that very thing have been thrown out over the years.

In essence, this is the basis of bodyrecomposition, you train and eat in such a way as to end up with more muscle and less fat than you had before. People on forums either want to know how to accomplish the above or make statements such as “I want to gain muscle without gaining weight.” implying that they are replacing every pound of lost fat with the exact same pound of muscle. Others will hide it in the math of the situation, wanting to move from one weight/body fat percentage to another without recognizing what that implies for the numerical changes that they are seeking.

Now, when I was younger and only thought I knew what I was talking about, I would often say that the above was impossible to accomplish. In hindsight, impossible was a bit too strong of a term; clearly it’s not impossible as it does happen. But it can sure be difficult depending on the situation.

There are a handful of situations where the combination of muscle gain and fat loss occur relatively readily. The first of those is in overfat beginners. I want to really stress the term in the above sentence. This phenomenon doesn’t happen in lean beginners for reasons I’m going to explain in a second.