Ever hear this?
- To build muscle you need to be in caloric surplus
- To lose fat you need to be in a caloric deficit
- …therefore you can’t build muscle and lose fat at the same time.
Yeah, that old chestnut. The singular belief that has caused many lifters to walk around most of the year with a fat gut and also accept the ridiculous idea that you HAVE to lose some muscle when losing fat. Total rubbish!
I’ve stated many times before that the human body is perfectly capable of building muscle and losing fat over the same period of time.
I mean, can the body use incoming amino acids to synthesize new muscle tissue, while at the same time metabolizing fat from our fat cells for energy?
OF COURSE! Why in the hell wouldn’t it be able to!? Let me prove it to you…
There’s 2 keys you need to know about:
- Train with high-intensity to actually promote and stimulate the body to WANT to make new muscle tissue
- Keep your protein intake high – this is vital!
Aside from an abundance of anecdotal evidence in the form of before/after testimonials of guys and girls adding muscle and losing fat at the same time (see the pics here), there are many studies to prove it.
I’ll break just one of those studies down right now – one of the more recent ones (students of my Jacked ‘n’ Ripped member’s program have seen many more studies).
Researchers at McMaster University  sought to find out if muscle could be built and fat lost at the same time.
40 male subjects trained with weights and did some HIIT cardio 6 days a week for 4 weeks. They also consumed 40%-below-maintenance Calories, which is quite a drop.
They were split into 2 groups with varying protein intakes (remember calories were the same):
- High protein group at 2.4 grams per kg (about 1g per pound)
- Lower protein group at 1.2 grams per kg (about half gram per pound)
Both groups lost weight, but weight isn’t important. Only the higher protein group built any muscle.
- The lower protein group didn’t build any muscle and lost an average of 8 pounds of fat.
- The higher protein group built an average of 2.5lbs of muscle (impressive for only 4 weeks while in a caloric deficit!) and lost 10.5 pounds of fat.
More fat lost. And muscle built simultaneously. Body recomposition happens! And protein intake is 1 of 2 keys!Yes you can build #muscle and lose fat at the same time. Here's proof Click To Tweet
The other key is high-intensity training, like my free THT training program (download it below)
Why is it so important? Imagine you are the boss of a company that needs to be downsized. You gotta let people go and perhaps even scrap whole departments.
Which one do you keep? Any department that is working hard and is seen to be absolutely necessary is not going to get cut. Only people/departments that are not needed will be let go, right? When you train with weights to a high-intensity, you signal to your body that you NEED your muscle tissue. Your body will not then give it up easily – even when downsizing (dieting). Namby-pamby workouts will not cut it – especially in a calorie deficit.
Guys and girls, do yourself a HUGE favour and download my totally free 3-day and 5-day/wk THT training routines; just enter your details below for immediate download. It will tell you the best exercises to use, the best rep ranges, the right number of sets to do, the best training frequency – everything you need for the best gains ever! Don’t worry, there’s no spam, no BS, no weirdness.
P.S. I know that putting together a diet for getting shredded abs can be a pain in the butt, especially if you are new to this – that’s why I offer a service where I will do all the tough ground work for you.
You probably don’t know how many calories you need, or how many grams of protein, carbs or fat you need (based on your personal stats)…BUT I DO. Then I can take these numbers and create an exact meal plan for you to hit those numbers spot on! You’ll know what foods to eat and even when to eat them. All you have to do…is do it. No thinking involved. If you’d like me to take care of this for you, see the Get Me Shredded option on my Coaching Page here.
Reference  Higher compared with lower dietary protein during an energy deficit combined with intense exercise promotes greater lean mass gain and fat mass loss: a randomized trial. American Society for Nutrition
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This is timely. I was just talking about this with a friend recently. We thought it probably wasn’t possible! But this is great news 🙂
Hello there Mark. It is absolutely true, the human body with the correct training stimulus and diet may both increase muscle and lose fat at the same time, especially for individuals who are new to training. However, I have one question that has perplexed me for some time. My bodybuilding hero is Dorian Yates, who hails from Birmingham, and won the Mr Olympia title 6 times in a row. In his book Blood and Guts, Dorian suggests that this does not happen when Mr Olympia contenders are getting ripped for the Mr Olympia competition. He says that if this were true then all the contenders would be getting larger prior to the competition, but they simply don’t. Now, I hold a UK medical degree and I know all about the use of anabolic steroids, somatotrophin (Human Growth Hormone), etc. But, Mark, is Dorian right or wrong or is this a grey area with not a simple yes or no answer as yet (as a Doctor I know all about the importance of what is termed Evidence Based Medicine) ??? In simple terms, can the human body keep on building muscle and losing fat until it becomes as large and ripped as a Mr Olympia contender ??? You are extremely knowledgeable and an expert on this subject so I would very much appreciate your answer and/or any comments.
My weight is 164 pounds and my height is 5 ft 9 inches. Generally I look skinny (my arm is 13 inches only). I am following your THT program
According to this post., I should take 164 g protein. 1 Egg = 6 g protein so I have to eat 164 / 6 = 27 eggs. —- OR —- 27 glass milk —- OR —- 6 scoops of whey protein powder.
How a person can eat 27 eggs daily
—- OR —-
How a person can take 6 scoops of whey protein (whey protein is very expensive in my country).
It means it is very difficult to build muscles. No matter you do THT or any stupid workout, you will get big if you take bigggg proteins.
@Muhammad. You don’t get all your protein from one source. You only need 41g protein, eating 4 times per day. That’s easy. Chicken, eggs, meats, dairy, fish, whey, nuts, nut butters.
And no, not every workout will build muscle if you eat a lot of protein. Protein by itself doesn’t build muscle.
@Andrew. I also like Dorian. Good guy and big promoter of HIT training, Mentzer style.
Few factors – those guys are all pretty much at their full genetic potential for growth. Humans can’t keep growing to infinity, even the genetic freaks. Earlier in their careers, I am certain they were still building muscle when cutting (perhaps at a slower rate).
Secondly, they’re going to extremely low body fat percentages – as low as 3-4%. At such an extreme, perhaps the body is starting to convert protein to glucose for energy use to try to counteract the semi-starvation and calorie-burning through exercise – as such it would be near impossible to gain muscle. But that’s an extreme that 99% of us will never be concerned with.
Hope that helps.