By Drew Stegman
The idea is simple for most guys. They want to add pounds of muscle mass and turn into the next Frank Zane, but they want to do it while staying lean and ripped the entire time.
Many guys feel it's impossible to add 15lbs of muscle and lose 15lbs of fat if you train really hard and watch your diet closely, but is it really?
Let's get straight to the punch line.
The reality is that this question is both a yes and no answer. Let's go ahead and take a closer look.
One thing I get from many of the so-called fitness "experts" out there is that it's impossible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time, for the following 'scientific' reason:
"Speaking in a physiological sense, it's impossible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time because one involves a calorie deficit and one involves a calorie surplus."
And yet, despite this, I have yet to find a single study to support this notion. I mean, honestly, how hard can it be? I hear bodybuilders discuss it all the time on web forums, different fitness sites and even in the gym, but I have yet to come up with a single piece of scientific literature to suggest what they're saying is true.
On the other hand, there's really not much science leaning towards the latter. I remember reading a study about females who were able to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time, but for some reason I can't remember it. To be quite honest, the science is unclear on this issue and there's really not a lot of evidence leaning in either direction. At this stage in the game, I guess anything is possible.
But that's not to say that personal experiences can't serve as anecdotal evidence. I say this because myself, along with countless others, have all experienced the reality of building muscle and losing fat at the same time….I think….
Correct me if I'm wrong, but when your clothes start fitting tighter, you're getting stronger, your scale weight is staying the same or decreasing week after week and you notice yourself getting leaner and more vascular, I think that is grounds to believe that you're gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time.
But hey, don't take my word for it; take thousands of others who all claim to have experienced the same thing. Call it "broscience" all you want, but isn't it just as much broscience to believe that it's impossible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time? Would all these people (myself included) really be lying to you? What could we possibly gain from doing so?
Who knows, maybe we're completely wrong and we're just being psychotic. Then again, maybe we're right and the fitness "experts" really have no idea what they're talking about. Either way, I would really like to see a study on this matter come out soon. It would definitely clear things up and would help to put the arguments to rest.
How To Lose Fat And Build Muscle At The Same Time
So let's just say that it is possible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. How do we go about doing so? One method is through "nutrient timing".
Nutrient timing is determined by a few very important factors.
1. When you eat.
2. How much you eat.
3. What you eat that can affect how your body responds.
There are many different theories on nutrient timing and some of them even confuse me sometimes, so….
Before getting into the specifics, if your goal is to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time, which one should you focus on more?
If you're above 15% body fat, I would primarily focus on fat loss, with some potential muscle gain along the way. Conversely, if you're already at a lean body fat percentage then I would simply focus on eating more and not even worrying too much about losing fat.
A great nutrient timing strategy that you can implement is dropping your calorie intake throughout the week. Another thing I recommend doing is after your workouts, consuming a meal high in protein and carbohydrates. I always get about 75% of my carbs during the post-workout period of opportunity and eat low carbs the rest of the day. Yes, it is possible to gain muscle on a low carb diet.
Now let's discuss workouts.
Your workouts really don't need to be much different between gaining muscle and losing fat.
Regardless of what your primary goals are, I recommend training heavy. Even if your primary goal is to lose fat, training with light weights is not the way to go. Train too light and sometimes your body can actually start to burn your muscle mass.
Obviously, this is the exact opposite of what you want and to avoid this, make sure you're training as heavy as you possibly can in the rep range of 6-12. This will help you create deep muscle tears and work them with the most intensity, which in turn will force your body to adapt and grow. Remember, muscles respond to stimulation - not dozens of sets and exercises. Make sure you're stimulating your muscles correctly and hypertrophy shouldn't be an issue.
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