Can You Lose Fat and Build Muscle at the Same Time?

23.08.2017 |

Episode #6 of the course Fat loss for fitness enthusiasts by Theo Brenner-Roach


It’s the stuff dreams are made of, isn’t it?

I mean, how times have you wished you could do exactly that?

It would save a load of time, and you’d look awesome at the end—no additional fat loss or muscle building stages needed.

But is it possible? Well, yes, it is possible but not for everyone.

How does it work?

Every day, your body completes a process called protein synthesis, where it uses protein to remove faulty cells, repair damaged cells, and build new ones.

When you lift weights, you damage the cells in your muscle fibers, which signals the body to increase protein synthesis rates in order to repair this damage.

Your body then adapts by adding new cells that make your muscles bigger and stronger.

To build muscle, the rate of protein synthesis must be greater than the rate of protein breakdown, and this is where it gets tricky.

You already know that to lose fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit, and as we said in the 1st lesson, this is where your energy output is greater than your energy input, i.e. burning more calories than you eat.

The problem is that when you eat in a deficit, your body reduces its rate of protein synthesis, which directly impacts your ability to create new muscle fiber cells.

For many people, this coupled with the usual diet and training mistakes they encounter makes it too difficult to keep their protein synthesis rates high enough to build muscle in a calorie deficit.


Who CAN Lose Fat and Build Muscle at the Same Time?

1. Beginners

Something magical happens when you’re new to working out.

This phenomenon is commonly known as “newbie gains” and refers to the initial period where you’re primed for rapid improvements across the board, particularly with building muscle and strength, due to your untrained state.

This effect is short lived and, for most people, will not last more than 6 months.

To make it work, you want to get yourself into a small calorie surplus, get yourself a well-structured training program, apply progressive overload, and work freaking hard.

2. Overweight People

This is truer the more untrained you are.

When overweight people start strength training seriously and eating in calorie deficit, they have this perfect storm of fat loss from the deficit but also an abundance of stored fat that the body uses as energy for the muscle-building process.

How fat and how much of a beginner you need to be for this to work is hard to say, but I think the safe bet is: the fatter you are and the more untrained you are, the higher your ability to lose fat and build muscle.

It’s important to note here that the stored fat doesn’t turn into muscle, but instead, it provides the energy necessary to fuel the muscle-building process.

To make it work, get yourself in a moderate calorie deficit (make sure you get sufficient protein) and onto a well-structured program, apply progressive overload, and work hard.

3. Those Coming Back after Time Off

Thanks to something called muscle memory, those who come back to training after a layoff due to injury or other circumstances can experience simultaneous fat loss and muscle gain.

For this to work, you must have built a decent amount of muscle to begin with, be relatively well trained, and have been off for at least 3 months.


Who CAN’T Lose Fat and Build Muscle at the Same Time?

Sadly, this is pretty much everyone else outside of this group of people, especially those who are close to their genetic potential.

The problem is that outside of the examples above, losing fat and building muscle will be increasingly difficult the better trained and leaner you are.

Not to mention that if it happens, it will be a slow process. You’re much better off focusing on 1 goal and cycling between fat loss and muscle building.


Summing Up

Yes, the process of losing fat while gaining muscle works, but it’s not for everyone.

You have to take into consideration your training plan, nutrition setup, training experience, and the speed you want results when deciding whether it’s right for you.


Recommended book

Strength Training Anatomy by Frederic Delavier


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