Gaining Muscle, Losing Fat...a difficult balancing act?

  • Tyinstl

    Posts: 353

    Jul 28, 2008 5:38 AM GMT
    I've been told that to lose fat one should have a caloric deficit and to gain muscle one should have a caloric surplus.

    You can't do both. So my question is this: is it possible to both gain muscle and lose fat at the same time? If so, should I consume less or more?

    My daily calorie allowance is about 4100, so about how much should I eat?

  • UncleverName

    Posts: 741

    Jul 28, 2008 1:51 PM GMT
    From what I read in "Scrawny to Brawny", you want to figure out what your calorie needs are for a non-exercise day, and figure out what they are for an exercise day. Then, if you want to put on muscle mass, up that by about 250 calories at a time, with healthy stuff (whole grain rice, maybe a bit more protein, fish oil, omega 3 fats, etc). If you aren't seeing the growth that you want, add another 250 calories. Keep increasing until you see the growth that you want.

    In theory, you don't want to lose weight; you want to lose fat, and gain muscle. What I found to be the most effective to do this, personally, was to focus on heavy compound lifts. Squats, deadlifts, and pullups (plus hang or power cleans and snatches) can help boost your testosterone, which in turn helps you pack on the muscles. Building up your legs (which have the largest muscles in your body) will also kick up your metabolism even higher, which will help you burn fat faster/easier.

    As others have posted in other threads, it sounds easier to do one at a time, and once you've reached your goal, switch. I managed to put on lean muscle mass and take off fat just doing tons of extra hard lifting, so that might work for you also.

    Good luck!
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    Jul 28, 2008 4:55 PM GMT
    It is possible to do both simultaneously (AND without violating the laws of thermodynamics), but the vast majority of people don't have the time, energy or know-how to do it. And even if they do have the time, energy and know-how, it is FAR FAR FAR less efficient than committing to one path or the other at any given time.

    It doesn't matter which one you do first. Losing fat has a higher "bang for your buck" because the illusion of being muscular hinges largely on definition. But highly defined thin guys still end up looking thin without some bulk. So do whichever you want. Enjoy the journey icon_smile.gif
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    Jul 28, 2008 7:55 PM GMT
    scally saidjust add more cardio


    Um. That just digs into your "calories out" column. No sense in eating more of you're just gonna waste 'em.
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    Jul 28, 2008 8:09 PM GMT
    Actually doing more cardio is pretty helpful. You can feed the muscle and burn the fat at the same time. There are a lot of factors to doing this right, it takes serious attention to detail and dedicated effort. However, in the long run you are better off doing this then running very low cal diets. Low cal diets can work for rapid fat loss, but they can be very detrimental to a wide range of systems in your body resulting in all kinds of unexpected side effects. You are way better off to eat and burn the calories then to dramatically reduce your eating. If you time the right nutrients to the right times you can build muscle and burn fat. I highly suggest Tom Venuto's Ebook "Burn the fat, Feed the Muscle". It's a large book with some of the best in current dietary/fitness thinking. I'm not affiliated with Tom and I don't make any profit from the book, so I can say from an unbiased perspective that his principles work to do just this if you follow them consistently.

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    Jul 28, 2008 8:29 PM GMT
    If you increase your lean muscle mass without gaining extra fat. You're weight will increase and your body fat percentage will decrease.


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    Aug 04, 2008 11:18 PM GMT
    the question is have you been able to do it so far on your current training and diet regime? Do you have a tendency to add fat?

    Your diet needs to be squeeky clean keeping fat intake to sub 25% as you want the body to metabolise retained fat and not waste its efforts on dietary fat.

    Its not an impossible task but as others have said you are going to need to be anal about your diet recording everything you eat and that means weighing and calorie counting and your training needs to be spot on.

    Its a hard task and probably best left to the professionals. One of the best strategies to finding your level is a very slow approach but to gradually ioncrease your dierary intake by 200 calories a day every fortnight. Its easier to cut back if the fat starts to go on, but then that involves regular measuring and body fat analysis. Hence so many go for cycles
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    Dec 31, 2009 11:05 PM GMT
    I had the same question and found this post. Here's what I've been doing:

    I lost a lot of weight (fat) over the course of a year - about 80 lbs - mainly by diet alone, then the addition of high intensity cardio (elliptical trainer).

    I got very trim, but wanted to gain muscle, so I changed up my routine at the gym to eliminate cardio and focus on heavy weight, average repetition workouts. At first, I was doing them three days a week, with interval training (not aerobic) on some days off. I heard that adequate rest is integral to gaining muscle mass, and I found that I needed more rest than expected. Once I cut back my routines to two days a week, and continued to increase weights, I found that I gained a bit faster.

    From my observation, there is a lot of truth to what some here have said about keeping fat intake low and healthy. I have noticed a couple of extra pounds came on that are not muscle after holiday eating - so I am back on program, and have upped the weights and lowered the reps at the gym this week. We'll see where that takes me.

    My doctor told me that I should definitely change up my exercise routines regularly (weights and reps), so that I can create some muscle confusion, and hopefully impact the stubborn love handles and lower belly inch that won't go away. At this point I'm being picky - as I have come so far, but it is aggravating to say the least, to not quite reach my own high expectations!

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    Mar 22, 2010 4:20 AM GMT
    hey man....if you're gonna consume calories then make sure you burn it off. So if you're gonna consume 1000 cals then burn off that amount either by weight training or simple cardio. You can still pile on the pounds in terms of muscle but use the cals you've consumed as energy to burn off that fat and build muscle. Also, make sure you eat things which are low on cals but high in protein or have a god balance so that you get the benefit of proteins but use the carbs to utilise that workout.

    Does that make sense..is that helpful??
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    Mar 29, 2010 10:14 PM GMT
    polojock saidhey man....if you're gonna consume calories then make sure you burn it off. So if you're gonna consume 1000 cals then burn off that amount either by weight training or simple cardio. You can still pile on the pounds in terms of muscle but use the cals you've consumed as energy to burn off that fat and build muscle. Also, make sure you eat things which are low on cals but high in protein or have a god balance so that you get the benefit of proteins but use the carbs to utilise that workout.

    Does that make sense..is that helpful??


    That makes no sense.

    If you consume 1000 calories, and then burn it off through activity (weights or otherwise), you're at net of 0 calories. Building muscle occurs in the recovery phase AFTER you've trained, and requires calories, since you can't make something (i.e. muscle) out of nothing.

    So I suppose it COULD make sense, provided you ditch the laws of thermodynamics.
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    Mar 30, 2010 12:11 PM GMT
    Being a natural fatass, I've figured out a way to bulk+shred that seems to be working for now.

    In short, I alternate weeks.

    One week, high protein bodybuilder's diet with muscle building workouts.
    Next week, low-carb/calorie diet with cardio and strength training.
    ...repeat as needed...