Thursday, April 6, 2017

Fat Loss VS Muscle Gain

Me: What is your goal for the next 3 months? Fat loss? Muscle Gain?

New Client: BOTH!

Me: Sorry, but you have to pick one.

What? You mean I can't make my muscles bigger and lose this fat around my belly in the next three months? 

Sorry, nope. You cannot gain muscle and lose fat at the same time...unless you are very special* or on drugs**.

Why? Here's the quick and dirty

  • BMR- Basal Metabolic Rate. The number of calories it takes each day to keep you exactly the way you are while doing nothing but resting. No weight loss, no weight gain. 
  • TDEE- Total Daily Energy Expenditure. The number of calories it takes each day to keep you exactly the way you are while going about your normal daily activities. 
  • Gaining muscle means you are actually adding mass to your body. Your weight will increase because there is more of you. Where will the building blocks for the gain come from? Calories! To gain mass you have to eat enough calories to be in excess of your TDEE.
  • Losing fat means you are taking mass off your body. You will weigh less because you are carrying less fat. How will this happen? You will take in calories under your TDEE.

You see the problem with trying to do both? They are on opposite ends of the spectrum! 

The good news though is that when you lose fat, the muscles you already have will stand out more and have more definition, making it look like you gained muscle. I think this is what women mean when they say that they want to get "toned" (a word I would like to abolish). 

If you are bulking (the term for trying to put on mass), the good news is that you get to eat a lot more than you normally would! However, you have to be mentally strong to truly bulk as you will gain fat and get fluffy while bulking. Sorry, there's no way around that. The key is to do an appropriate, well thought out bulk to maximize muscle gain and minimize fat gain. 

Lastly, all these things take TIME!! We aren't talking days or weeks here. We are talking months and years. Be patient and keep your eyes on the prize. To see physique changes that last, you need to cycle through periods of bulk, maintenance, fat loss, maintenance, and keep repeating until desired results are achieved.

PS: Another word I dislike: "bulky", as in "I don't want to get "bulky".  Some women do put on muscle easily and without a good nutrition strategy this muscle will build under their fat layer and cause them to get bigger overall. A good nutrition plan can minimize this by maintaining the strong muscle they already have, but cutting the layer of fat down.

*If you are new to fitness, are extremely overweight and/or are new to dietary tracking it is possible for a brief window to both lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. But it's a small window of opportunity. Don't count on this to be your golden goose.

**Performance Enhancing Drugs can help the user to override normal biological responses. Not recommended.

If you are interested in losing fat or gaining muscle or both (over a period of time!) and need a little help, look here.

Stay Strong Y'all!

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