How do you lose fat and gain muscle? It’s a contradiction, actually because a lot of people think that in order to gain muscle mass, you also have to gain some fat. This is not applicable for most people. Unrealistic expectations of building more muscle lead many muscle-building enthusiasts to believe that they can’t gain muscle and lose fat at the same time.
Data on muscle gain indicates that mature adults typically gain 15 pounds of muscle maximum each year. However, many people tend to only gain 5 pounds of muscle at a time. This is equivalent to just 1.25 pounds of muscle gained each month while maintaining the same amount of body fat. To gain more muscle, you must add more calories to your diet. Eat 100 more calories each day so that in one month you will have 3125 extra calories per month.
What about fat loss? You can lose fat faster than gain muscle. That is, to lose fat, you must reduce your calorie intake for the day while increasing your calorie output. For the average person to lose weight, they need to eat 400 fewer calories per day than they normally do. That equates to a reduced intake of 12,000 calories per month. It results in 1 pound lost per week, which again adds up to 52 pounds lost in a year.
Taking this equation into account, you will realize that the increase in calories you need to gain muscle is relatively very small compared to the decrease in calories you need to lose fat. Now, what is it like to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time? It basically means that you have to eat more and eat less altogether. To clear this up, you first have to get rid of one particular myth about muscle gain, and that is the myth that you need to eat more to gain more muscle.
To get a better picture of this effort, take a look at what your body does with the calories you consume. Twenty-five percent of energy intake goes to the brain, while 50% of the calories the body consumes go to activities that support life, such as breathing, regulating body temperature, pumping blood, and replenishing cells dead. Another 20% of your body’s energy is allocated to your physical activities, such as moving, walking, and lifting. Amazingly, only 5% of your energy goes into adding muscle. As you can see from this calculation, only a small amount of the calories you consume are allocated to exercise and muscle building.
Your body has 2 main requirements to keep you alive:
- Carbohydrates or fat for the energy you burn
- protein amino acids
If the food you eat becomes scarce, your body comes to the rescue through its emergency backup system. If it thinks you’re in a dire emergency, your body activates this nuclear power plant that cannibalizes your muscles. You have to stop the activation of this nuclear reactor so that it doesn’t eat your muscles. This is how you lose fat and gain muscle:
- Take 1 gram of protein per pound of your body weight. That means eating 5 to 6 equal servings of protein consumed evenly throughout the day.
- Eat just enough calories to stop sending signals to your body that you’re starving. Be careful not to consume too many calories or you will gain weight. A good value for this plan is to eat 10% less of your energy intake each day. In other words, 10% calorie reduction.
- Eat proper nutrition, make every calorie count. Avoid eating processed foods. Add plenty of fresh vegetables to your diet.
- Make a 30% reduction in calories from fat. Instead, eat good fats, like nuts, olives, and avocados.
- Add more whole grains to your meals, as well as low GI carbohydrates. Avoid consuming simple carbohydrates from alcohol, sugar and white flour. Have a daily intake of omega 3 from salmon and flax, among other food sources.
- Be consistent when doing intense exercises. Ask a physical trainer to design a training plan that is right for you.
- Do 30-40 minutes of cardio a day. Cardio helps in your effort to lose fat and build muscle.