Is It Possible to Loss Fat and Gain Muscle?

Updated: Jul 23

A fat loss program where you see more defined muscles? Some believe it's one or the other, but maybe, just maybe, you can implement a program that does both.

Summer is around the corner, and some of us are making last ditch efforts for that body.

Since the dawn of time, if you wanted to go about losing weight and looking leaner, you had to sacrifice strength training. As we increase are understanding of the body and knowledge about weight lifting we now know that there are ways to do BOTH. Isn't that exciting???

Let's put fat loss into perspective for a second.

Fat is the bodies way of storing energy. Fats (with an s) act as messengers, helping proteins do their jobs as well as start chemical reactions involved in growth, immune function, reproduction and other aspects of basic metabolism. The body already produces fats naturally, but we also need fats from our diet. These types of fats are called triglycerides.

When too many triglycerides are consumed, the body will store these fats, trying to displace them for when they are needed. This can lead to high cholesterol, clogged arteries, diabetes, and undesired weight.

So before we start saying fat is the devil, know that it is vital for the body to receive fats from fish, nuts, oils and other foods. However, there needs to be a healthy balance.

When it comes to exercising and fat loss, there are usually two schools of thought.

1. Cardio is king

or ...

2. Strength training is the way to go

Different studies have proven that both aid in weight loss but they go about it in different ways.

In a cardiovascular focused program, the goal is to elevate your heart rate, creating demand for the CNS (central nervous system) to access your fat storage as a means to fuel the demand put on the body.

Strength training looks to increase muscle mass and raise your metabolic rate (Spark notes: metabolism breaks down food and builds its nutrients into different tissues, cells, and other necessities for the body). By increasing the metabolism, you effectively burn more fat in a day.

Both of these methods burn fat (or finds a purpose for the fat you've been storing in your body) and because the evidence isn't decisive, we can't say one is better than the other in fat reduction.

Our goal, though, is too not only get leaner, but also gain muscle. So we are going to need to include some sort of strength training component in our program.

One of my favourite questions I ask my clients is, "Would you care if the scale said you were the same weight but you had your dream body?" Most of them respond with a sassy "no."

I ask this question because there is a difference between fat loss and weight loss. Weight loss reduces the number on the scale. Fat loss reduces the fat in your body. Both are closely associated with one another because losing fat usually means losing weight. Strength training looks to add muscle mass and that would require putting on more weight. Most of us are also aware that muscle weighs more than fat.

In the long run, yes, your number on the scale will go down, but it isn't going to be an overnight project, nor is it going to be a monthly project. It's going to take several months but you are guaranteed to get best of both worlds.

So, how do we put this all together? In order to achieve a muscle building program that also reduces fat, we have to control our food intake, include fat burning modalities, and have a strength training component. Why isn't this done all the time? It's not as effective as just losing fat or gaining muscle. When you focus on one or the other, you have to focus on the proper nutrients to aid your goal. Both of these objective require different nutritional goals. With fat loss, you would reduce the number of calories in your diet to cut back on fat storage and with gaining muscle, you would increase calories to aid in the rebuilding of tissues. To do both, we are going to have to be strategic about what goes into our body and to make sure our style of training isn't self conflicting, meaning we aren't hindering our muscle gains by focusing too much on weight loss or vice versa.

The layout would look like this: 1. You need to find your caloric expenditure and reduce that number by 300 kcal on a daily basis. Start HERE. If you reduce your calories too much, you won't give your body enough fuel to build muscle. 2. You need a program that has a 3 day focus on strength training and 2-3 day focus on cardiovascular training. BOTH OF THESE MODALITIES NEED TO BE IMPLEMENTED. Cardio directly uses fat. Strength makes sure it stays off. HERE for Strength HERE for Cardio (Pick one you like from each list and combine them to equal the recommended days for each modality) 3. You need to repeat this cycle using the same exercises and same targets. For example:

  • Stick to 2-3 compound exercise

  • Always get your HR to at least 70% and never more than a total of 10min over 90%

  • Include emphasis, meaning if you want bigger biceps, do arms. If you want a more toned butt, do legs.

  • Don't include more than 6-10 exercise in a given day and make sure you have enough energy on days that require you to do both strength and cardio.

4. Record you progress.

  • Take before and after photos

  • Record your weight

  • Track the weight on the bar (see if your lifts can go up in weight)

Taking these steps into the gym will act as guides to see if the work you're putting in results to progress with the goal. For questions or concerns, reach out to me! Book a free assessment and lets talk about your plan. Until next time my gym warriors, Daniel

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