Bodybuilding.com Information Motivation Supplementation
in:
Can You Lose Fat And Gain Muscle At The Same Time? Learn The Truth!

Alternating calorie intake with a periodized routine and cardio program are keys for great muscle gain and fat loss. Want both? Try this detailed diet and periodization program.

By: Hugo Rivera

Is it possible to lose fat and gain muscle mass at the same time? This article addresses this old bodybuilding question and provides a method for accomplishing both over a period of time.


When The Body Gains Muscle & Loses Fat Simultaneously

First and foremost, the body is inefficient at performing both activities at the same time. The only times when both happen at peak efficiency are:

  1. When the person is just a beginner who is starting bodybuilding, in which case, weight training is such a new stimulus to the body that muscle gain and fat loss happen extremely efficiently.

  2. When coming back after a period of no weight training in which case the body is just regaining muscle tissue that has been previously built. If, God forbid, you get the flu and couldn't train for three weeks, once you come back you will experience simultaneous accelerated muscle gain and fat loss.


Above 10% BF For Men / 12% For Women?
Concentrate On Losing Fat First

Having said that, my recommendation is that if you are above 10% body fat for men and 12% for women, try to concentrate first on getting below that level while retaining or even gaining, a moderate amount of muscle tissue.

This is best accomplished, in my opinion, by following a diet that is composed of 40% carbs, 40% proteins and 20% fats. This ratio works very well for most people except for hardgainers who have such a fast metabolism that they need more carbs and fats.

Carbs should come mainly from complex slow releasing sources such as oatmeal, grits, brown rice and sweet potatoes, in combination with fibrous sources such as green beans and broccoli. Proteins should come mainly from chicken, turkey, tuna, turkey, salmon and lean red meats.

Since the focus is on reducing body fat, dairy products and fruits need to be eliminated at this time, not because they are not healthy but due to the fact that the type of simple carbs contained in these foods may slow down fat loss. Finally, you need some fats and these should come on the form of fish oils, flaxseed oil or extra virgin canned olive oil.

    View Fish Oil Products Sorted By Top Sellers Here.
    View Flax Seed Products Sorted By Top Sellers Here.

Note: Please refer to the sample diets below.

As far as the amounts of nutrients required to lose fat, a good starting point is 1-1.2 gram of protein per pound of lean (fat free) bodyweight, 1-1.2 gram of carbs per pound of lean bodyweight, and 2-3 tablespoons of good fats per day for men and 1-1.5 for women.

FAT LOSS MACRONUTRIENT CALCULATOR
Weight
BF %
Results
Protein
Carbs


Baseline Sample Fat Loss Diet For Men

Note: If you want to turn this diet into a gaining diet, then add food to the diet below as prescribed in the instructions of the following section.

Modifications For Hardgainers: For Hardgainers, the servings of carbohydrates should be doubled (so for instance, Meal 1 would contain 2 cups of oatmeal).

Meal 1 (7 AM):

  • 1 cup of dry oats mixed with water
  • 1 cup of egg beaters or 2 scoops of whey protein

Meal 2 (9 AM):

Lean Mass

  • Meal replacement (I personally like Prolab's Lean Mass Complex, which already has a 40/40/20 nutrient ratio) mixed with water or a whey protein powder (with around 40 grams of protein) mixed with 40 grams of carbs from cream of rice, grits, or oatmeal.
  • 1 Tablespoon of Flaxseed Oil (I like Spectrum brand) or Fish Oils (I like Carlsons)

Meal 3 (12 Noon):

  • 1 cup of brown rice, or medium sized baked potato, or 1 cup of oatmeal
  • 2 cups of green beans, broccoli or any other desired vegetable
  • 6-8 ounces of chicken, turkey, or lean fish

Meal 4 (3 PM):

    Same as Meal 2

Meal 5 (6 PM):

  • 1 cup of brown rice, or medium sized baked potato, or 1 cup of oatmeal
  • 2 cups of green beans, broccoli or any other desired vegetable
  • 6-8 ounces of chicken, turkey or lean fish

Meal 6 (8 PM):

    Same as Meal 2 or 3.


Baseline Sample Fat Loss Diet For Women

Meal 1 (7 AM):

  • 1/2 cup of dry oats mixed with water
  • 1/2 cup of egg beaters

Meal 2 (9 AM):

  • Meal replacement (I personally like Prolab's Lean Mass Complex, which already has a 40/40/20 nutrient ratio) mixed with water or a whey protein powder (with around 20 grams of protein) mixed with 20 grams of carbs from cream of rice, grits, or oatmeal.
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of Flaxseed Oil (I like Spectrum brand) or Fish Oils (I like Carlsons)

Meal 3 (12 Noon):

  • 1/2 cup of brown rice, or medium sized baked potato or 1 cup of oatmeal
  • 2 cups of green beans, broccoli or any other desired vegetable
  • 6 ounces of chicken, turkey or lean fish

Meal 4 (3 PM):

    Same as Meal 2

Meal 5 (6 PM):

  • 1/2 cup of brown rice, or medium sized baked potato or 1 cup of oatmeal
  • 2 cups of green beans, broccoli or any other desired vegetable
  • 6 ounces of chicken, turkey or lean fish

Meal 6 (8 PM):

    Same as Meal 2


Once Lean Enough It Is Time To Gain Muscle

Once below 10% body fat (12% for women), the bodybuilding or figure athlete can go ahead and start on a bulk up cycle. All that needs to be done then is just increase your nutrient intake to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean bodyweight, 1.5-2 grams of carbs per pound of lean weight and keep the essential fats at 3 tablespoons per day for guys and 1.5 for women.

MUSCLE GAIN MACRONUTRIENT CALCULATOR
Weight
BF %
Results
Protein
Carbs

Hardgainers may need to increase carbs even further and make use of calorie rich weight gainers, such as Prolab's N-Large 2, and digestive enzymes to facilitate digestion.

N-large 2

The athlete should continue to bulk up until a level of 10 percent body fat is exceeded. At that point, calories need to be reduced again. Understand, that when eating more calories than what the body burns on any given day, some of those calories will be deposited as body fat.

However, if your training is right on the money, most of the calories will be used for energy and muscle production.


Weight Training & Cardio

Weight training wise, 4-6 sessions of 45 minutes to 1 hour, at the most, in the gym should get the job done regardless of the phase you are in. A good strategy to avoid stagnation is to periodize, which in other words is to change your workout parameters like sets, reps and rest in between sets in a logical and orderly fashion that elicits the most response for the body.

So for instance you can do 3-4 weeks of training using higher reps, such as 12-15, and short periods of rest in between sets, like 60 seconds, and then follow that with 3-4 weeks of lower rep work (in the range of 6-10) with longer rest in between sets 90 seconds to 2 minutes (Please check out my Advanced Bodybuilding Periodized Routine listed below).

As far as cardiovascular exercise, around 5-6 sessions of 30-45 minutes when trying to cut down to below 10 percent body fat and around 2-4 sessions of 20-30 minutes when trying to add. These sessions can be performed first thing in the morning on an empty stomach or right after the workout.

RELATED ARTICLE
Cardiovascular Exercise Basics. Cardiovascular Exercise Basics.
In order for aerobic exercise to be effective, it needs to be performed within the fat burning zone. Read right here to get some of the best fat burning cardio activities.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

Now, if you are a hardgainer, which in other words is a naturally skinny person that has problems gaining weight, then a maximum of 15-20 minutes of a light walk for health purposes is recommended regardless of whether you are trying to gain or cut. These sessions are to be performed only on days off from weights.


Conclusion

So in a nutshell, alternating between higher calorie periods and lower calorie periods along with a properly periodized routine, and a cardiovascular program that is in line with what you are trying to accomplish are the keys for consistent progress in terms of muscle gain and fat loss. In this manner, you can accomplish both goals over time and thus stay in good shape throughout the year.


Advanced Bodybuilding Periodized Routine

Week 1 - Active Rest:

Weeks 2, 3, & 4 - Loading Phase:

Weeks 5, 6, and 7 - Growth Phase:

Notes:

  1. This training program will work regardless of whether you are trying to gain or cut as one should always train with the purpose of stimulating muscle. In this manner, you get the best muscle gains if your diet and training program are designed to help you gain, and you get to keep the most muscle (or even gain a modest amount) as you cut down.

  2. Click To Enlarge.
    Keep The Most Muscle As You Cut Down!

  3. Regarding the issue of reaching muscle failure or not in all sets, the best advice that I can give you is to perform each set to the point where it would be impossible for you to perform an additional repetition on your own with good form. This philosophy has always kept me injury free and allowed me to train by myself for years without any accidents.
  4. After finishing up the last week of the growth phase, go back to an active recovery phase for a week and re-start the loading phase with different exercises. Training in this manner will keep the body off guard and will continue to stimulate gains in muscle size.

About The Author:

    Hugo Rivera, About.com's Bodybuilding Guide, ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer and Computer Engineering graduate from the University of South Florida, is a internationally-known best-selling fitness author of over 8 books on bodybuilding, weight loss and fitness, including "The Body Sculpting Bible for Men," "The Body Sculpting Bible for Women," "The Hardgainer's Bodybuilding Handbook," and his successful, self published e-book, "Body Re-Engineering." You can visit Hugo Rivera at www.bodybuilding.about.com, at www.HRFit.net, and his new site www.losefatandgainmuscle.com.

Can You Lose Fat And Gain Muscle At The Same Time? Learn The Truth!
hugo@hrfit.net

Visitor Reviews Of This Article!
Read Visitor Reviews - Write Your Own Review

Back To Hugo Rivera's Main Page

Back To The Articles Main Page.

Related Articles
Chady Dunmore Workout: Look Your Best Naked
The Muscle Militia's Hardest Workouts Of The Year
Fitness 360: Ross Dickerson, WBFF European Fitness Model Champion



RATE THIS ARTICLE
POOR
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
EXCELLENT
OVERALL RATING
9

Out of 10
Excellent
27 Ratings

1

Comment

Showing 1 - 1 of 1 Comment

(5 characters minimum)

      • notify me when users reply to my comment
7Abz7

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
7Abz7

good info

Feb 4, 2014 3:29pm | report
 
Showing 1 - 1 of 1 Comment

Featured Product

Give Us Feedback:
Report A Problem
Site Feedback
Follow Us:
Twitter
Facebook
RSS Feeds
Bodybuilding.com Newsletter

Receive exciting features,
news & special offers from Bodybuilding.com