Is Vader on the right track to lose fat and gain muscle? Let's find out!

There’s an argument within the health world that you would be able to both select to lose fats OR acquire muscle.

That they only can’t be achieved concurrently.

To this, I say, “Hogwash!”

We have now tons of success tales from our on-line teaching purchasers who’ve been in a position to do each concurrently:

And that’s what we’ll cowl in as we speak’s information!

We’ll achieve this by discussing:

Plus, I’ve tons of candy LEGO images and foolish gifs on their approach, which is all the time time.

What’s Physique Recomposition?

As Coach Matt mentions within the video above, gaining muscle and dropping fats concurrently is named “physique recomposition.”

So sure, the method is certainly doable, so long as you observe the suitable plan.

…however you don’t must take my phrase for it.

Simply ask our buddy Aksel right here (who achieved a formidable physique recomp with the assist of a NF Coach):

A side-by-side of Aksel's before and after

Learn extra about his unimaginable story!

Nevertheless, as I discussed within the intro, you’ll typically hear that dropping fats whereas gaining muscle is inconceivable. The argument goes that it is best to simply concentrate on one or the opposite, as a result of doing each directly is destined to fail.

Let’s discover this declare.

Dropping Fats and Gaining Muscle on the Similar Time (The Controversy)

This picture shows two LEGO miners, who don't have much to do with fast weight loss, but look cool.

To know why dropping fats whereas gaining muscle will be problematic, we have to discover each processes.

Let’s contemplate the next factors:

  • To lose fats, your physique must be in a caloric deficit. This deficit forces your physique to make use of pre-existing fats shops for gas.

  • To achieve muscle, your physique must be in a caloric surplus. This surplus supplies the power your physique requires to restore and construct larger muscle tissue.

Given this, dropping fats (caloric deficit) on the identical time one is gaining muscle (caloric surplus) appears inconceivable.

Nevertheless, if we go a couple of steps deeper into the science, it IS doable!

A foe from the Prince Bride not believing you can lose fat while gaining muscle.

To understand the nuance right here, let’s get into some specifics on dropping fats and gaining muscle individually, after which we’ll mix them.


a picture of Homer Simpson with Donut

There’s a easy reply and a barely much less easy reply in relation to dropping physique fats.

The straightforward reply: “devour fewer energy than you expend or burn.”[1]

Eight phrases, and one or two of these may most likely be thrown out.

When your physique wants extra energy than the quantity you’re consuming, you’re in a “caloric deficit.” Your physique doesn’t have the energy it wants as gas, so it’ll begin breaking down components of itself for its power necessities.

(If you happen to’re curious, you may calculate your each day caloric wants right here).

The hope is that your physique will principally pull from fats shops, although relying on how you’re coaching it should additionally break down muscle too.[2]

Stated once more: when you find yourself consuming a caloric deficit, your physique will pull from each its fats shops AND current muscle for power.

Yes, if you're not careful you can lose fat AND muscle while losing weight.

Troubling certainly.

From a physique and well being standpoint, clearly we’d favor that your physique doesn’t break down muscle when in a caloric deficit, and as a substitute actually focuses on utilizing fats shops as a substitute.[3]

I make this level for a cause: your purpose in health shouldn’t solely be “weight reduction,” regardless of the frequent vernacular used.

Who cares what the dimensions says, proper?

A scale can be misleading when you're trying to lose fat and gain muscle.

The purpose as a substitute is to cut back physique fats whereas additionally preserving the muscle you might have (and even constructing extra muscle).

That results in a greater physique and a more healthy physique.

That is why there’s a huge marketplace for units that supposedly assess your physique fats share.

By decreasing the full fats in your physique, OR growing muscle mass, you’ll find yourself with a decrease physique fats share (it’s only a easy ratio of fats to all the pieces else).

And decrease physique fats percentages are the place “toned arms” and “6-pack abs” hang around.

Arnold lost body fat and gained muscle to achieve his physique. And maybe some super glue.

We’ll focus on tips about preserving and rising your muscle whereas in a calorie deficit later on this information. For now, keep in mind you want fewer energy “in” in comparison with energy “out” for weight reduction to happen, from both fats shops or muscle.

Chances are you’ll be asking, “Steve, what’s simpler to do? Burn extra energy or devour much less?”

Good query.

Numbers will assist inform the story: although it is a gross oversimplification – let’s use the ‘extensively accepted’ start line of “3,500 energy equals roughly one pound of fats.”[4]

If you wish to lose one pound – or half a kilogram – of physique fats in every week (a worthy, sustainable purpose for some), it is advisable to create a caloric deficit of 500 energy per day.

Your choices to create this caloric deficit embrace:

  • Consuming 500 fewer energy
  • Burning 500 extra energy
  • A mix of the 2

Which is less complicated?

Listed here are each halves of that equation. 500 energy equals:

  • The variety of energy present in a Large Gulp of Mountain Dew.
  • An estimate of the energy required to run 5 miles.

Yes, you will have to run for a long time to burn 500 calories.


In terms of sustaining a caloric deficit, it actually comes right down to food plan.

It’s considerably more practical and time-efficient to devour 500 fewer energy than it’s to burn 500 extra energy.

As Time journal controversially identified – with tons of cited research – “train alone received’t make you skinny.” It’s too simple so as to add extra energy in, and requires an excessive amount of work to successfully affect “energy out.”

We dig into this in our information to The CICO Weight loss plan.

This brings us to our barely much less easy reply on getting in form:

To lose physique fats, it is advisable to watch what you eat, and achieve this in a sustainable approach.

Right here at Nerd Health, we’re agency believers that 80-90% of the fat-loss equation comes right down to food plan (try Rule # 4).

Right here’s one other thought we concentrate on: EAT MOSTLY UNPROCESSED FOOD.[5]

These image shows some real food, critical if you're trying to lose body fat.

Meat, fish, eggs, greens, fruits, nuts are all nice examples.

These meals are very nutrient-dense and infrequently low in energy in comparison with their processed counterparts. Which implies you get crammed up with out overeating.


Have you ever ever seen the distinction between 200 energy of broccoli and 200 energy of a bagel? WiseGEEK does an awesome job of displaying this, so we’ll borrow a few their images.

200 energy of broccoli:

A pic of 200 calories of broccoli

200 energy of a bagel:

This picture shows you 200 calories worth of a bagel, which is about 2/3 of one.

That’s why REAL meals is the reply to making a sustainable caloric deficit.

Most individuals can eat a complete bagel, no drawback. Plates of broccoli, with the entire fiber, are a lot harder to overeat.

We lay all of it out in our Newbie’s Information to Wholesome Consuming. It’ll present tips about find out how to steadily create habits that get you to a “REAL meals” approach of consuming, together with correct portion sizes, tips about batch cooking, and a cameo from Winnie the Pooh.

Pooh knows that to lose fat and gain muscle, he really needs to cool it with all the honey.

With all of this, we advise you to take it sluggish, so new habits of wholesome consuming turn out to be everlasting.

One thing you are able to do for the remainder of your life.

It’s a technique we work carefully with our teaching purchasers on: small dietary changes they really feel comfy making. It’s how a few of them have been in a position to lose 50-100 kilos!

Let me clarify once more: what you eat will probably be 80%-90% of the equation for dropping physique fats.

The opposite 10-20%? Train.

After all it’s train.

That’s a reasonably good segue into…


Toy Hulk and the wilds trunks of huge plants

If you wish to construct muscle, you’ll must carry heavy issues and be certain that your physique has sufficient energy and protein to adapt by constructing extra muscle.

In our Newbie’s Information to Constructing Muscle and Power, I summarize it as follows:

  • Carry heavy issues
  • Eat a food plan primarily based in your targets
  • Relaxation so your physique can get well

Let’s chat about each shortly.

#1) Carry heavy issues

I’ll all the time be on Staff Power Coaching. If you happen to’re trying to construct muscle, you’re gonna have to carry heavy issues.

This Muppet knows strength training will help him gain muscle and lose fat.

Whenever you carry an object (or your personal body weight) sufficient occasions, your muscle tissue attain the purpose of failure. This causes your muscle tissue to tear and breakdown.

When your muscle rebuilds itself following the exercise, it’ll be larger and stronger than earlier than. Then you definately do it once more.

And once more.

And once more.

So long as you’re consuming sufficient to rebuild your muscle, you’ll get stronger!

Undecided the place to begin on a Power Coaching observe? No drawback! You’ll be able to obtain our free information Power Coaching 101: All the things You Must Know if you be a part of the Rise up (our free neighborhood) under:

#2) Eat a food plan primarily based in your targets

As a result of your muscle must be rebuilt after train, the energy are gonna want to return from someplace. I’ll discuss loads about correct food plan within the subsequent part (with a Harry Potter analogy), so I received’t spend an excessive amount of time on it right here.

Simply know that consuming the suitable amount of meals will probably be an enormous a part of gaining muscle.

#3) Relaxation

Your physique rebuilds itself when you sleep, so be sure you get loads of relaxation every night time. I’m speaking 7-8+ hours. This can assist guarantee your physique has the time it must develop stronger.

If you happen to’re power coaching and solely getting 6 hours of sleep an evening or much less, you’re actually doing your self a disservice. Go to mattress!

Donald knows he has to get plenty of rest to grow muscle. If only that sink would stop dripping.

That’s the brief gist of find out how to construct power: problem your muscle tissue, eat nicely, and get some relaxation.

Let’s slim in on our second level, “Eat a food plan primarily based in your targets.” It’ll turn out to be crucial when balancing each dropping physique fats and gaining muscle.

To try this correctly, seize your owl, and let’s chat about Hogwarts.

How one can Lose Fats WHILE Gaining Muscle (The Science)

Close-up shot of microscope with metal lens at laboratory.

To reply the query of dropping physique fats and gaining muscle on the identical time, I’d prefer to introduce an analogy from the world of Harry Potter.

Recall the “Sorting Hat:” The Sorting Hat’s job was to find out which of the 4 homes youngsters will name their dwelling.

The sorting hat will help us tell the story on calories and losing fat.

It’s virtually like a site visitors director: “Harry, you’ll go to Gryffindor! Draco, you’ll go to Slytherin!”

Your physique operates on a VERY related operation: day-after-day it receives new energy (if you eat), and it must resolve what to do with them!

For instance:

You eat a rooster parm sub with fries and a 20-ounce soda. Your physique then has to know the place to route all these energy.

To maintain issues easy, it has three decisions. It’ll kind these energy into considered one of three homes:[6]

A. Burn for Gas

B. Rebuild Muscle

C. Retailer as Fats

Proper now, if you eat meals, your physique kinds most of these energy into “Burn for Gas.”

There’s plenty of energy your physique wants every day simply current: to maintain your liver functioning, your coronary heart pumping, your mind working, to control your physique temperature, and so forth – it burns chunk of energy simply preserving the lights on.

A beating heart requires calories, which factors into your calorie needs.

That is your “Basal Metabolic Fee” which you’ll calculate for your self in our TDEE calculator.

There’s additionally “B. Rebuild as Muscle” and “C. Retailer as Fats,” which I devoted total sections to above.

That is the place the issues come up: Whenever you overeat energy and your physique doesn’t want anymore to gas itself, it takes these further energy and shops them as fats.

Nevertheless, our purpose is the OPPOSITE of this.

We wish to preserve the muscle we now have (or develop it) whereas eliminating the fats!

So let’s think about a state of affairs the place we pull all this collectively by power coaching heavy AND decreasing our caloric consumption:

  1. You power prepare usually, and your muscle tissue break down and have to be rebuilt.
  2. You don’t devour sufficient energy to each rebuild muscle and gas itself. There’s not sufficient to enter the “Burn for Gas” and “Rebuild Muscle” homes.

Does your physique simply shut down?


Yep, if you have fat on you your body will pull from it to take care of its needs.
Your physique has been getting ready for this, by storing any extra energy through the years within the “Retailer as Fats” home.

This implies your physique can pull from “Retailer as Fats” to verify all of the work nonetheless will get achieved, together with your each day features as a human and rebuilding the muscle you tore aside.

Stated one other approach:

In case you have fats shops (and all of us do), you don’t want to be in a “caloric surplus” to rebuild muscle. The energy saved in your fats cells act as this required power.

There’s additionally proof that muscle may even be grown whereas in a caloric deficit.[7]

That means larger muscle tissue with a decrease belt measurement.[8]

This dog just found out it's possible to both lose fat AND gain muscle.

Nevertheless, if you wish to skip all of the experimentation and trial and error, you may have a Nerd Health Coach do all of the heavy lifting for you (probably not, you’ll nonetheless have to work out).


Superhero Couple. Male and female superheroes. Cloudy sky.

Let’s convey this all collectively and create some actionable steps to dropping physique fats and constructing muscle on the identical time.

#1) Maintain a caloric deficit whereas consuming sufficient protein

You want your physique to burn extra energy than you devour, and likewise present your physique with sufficient protein to rebuild its muscle.

You’ll be able to solely lose fats should you’re in a calorie deficit.

You need to reduce your calories and be in a deficit if your goal is to lose fat.

Keep in mind the Sorting Hat analogy:

If you happen to’re consuming an excessive amount of, your extra energy are being despatched to the “Retailer as Fats” home.

We wish to pull from this home as a substitute. So eat lower than you burn persistently.

To assist right here, I’ve 3 sources for you:

  1. Newbie’s Information to Wholesome Consuming. If you would like ideas and methods to create habits primarily based on REAL meals, that information will assist get you there.
  2. Figuring out the Good Weight loss plan for You.” I discuss the advantages of making a Psychological Mannequin on diet like Intermittent Fasting, Paleo or Keto (or Paleolithic Ketogenic) to assist navigate all of the meals decisions it is advisable to make.
  3. Depend energy: This implies studying your complete each day power expenditure, and monitoring your different energy by an app (and/or weighing your meals).

You don’t must observe some predetermined blueprint like “low-carb.” You’ll be able to create your personal food plan (which is what I do). Be taught all about it proper right here.

#2) Power prepare

If you happen to may promote a capsule that could possibly be prescribed to each single particular person on Earth to make them more healthy, it will look one thing like a power coaching routine in a bottle.

A one arm push-up can help you lose fat and build muscle, but maybe start with regular push-ups first.

It is without doubt one of the greatest issues you are able to do on your physique.[9]

And actually, should you wish to construct muscle, you’re gonna have to carry one thing! Both weights or your personal body weight.

It’s essential to problem your muscle tissue to ensure that them to get stronger. Now, as we focus on in our article on the appropriate variety of reps and units, there are a number of methods to take action.

To construct muscle:

Carry lighter weights for many reps.

Carry actually heavy with fewer reps.

The essential factor: decide a technique and get began.

Vada is ready to strength train! And torment her Dad's GF.

Listed here are 3 paths ahead:

  1. Begin with a newbie body weight exercise.
  2. Observe considered one of our 5 Newbie Power Coaching Routines.
  3. Undergo our 6 Degree Health club Exercises.

To recap: should you prepare heavy and eat a caloric deficit, your physique will pull from its fats shops to each gas itself and probably additionally construct muscle. It is a double whammy of AWESOME.

#3) Prioritize protein

Outdoors of being in a caloric deficit and lifting weights (or your self), consuming sufficient protein is without doubt one of the key parts of each dropping physique fats and constructing muscle.

Protein is the primary nutrient for creating new tissue.[10]

Sponge Bob knows how to build muscle and strength.

So if you lower out energy to create a caloric deficit, don’t lower them from protein sources.

Research have proven that members can acquire muscle, even whereas in a caloric deficit, so long as they eat sufficient protein.[11]

It’s essential sufficient that I’ll say it once more:

If you happen to don’t need your physique cannibalizing its muscle tissue when you are in a caloric deficit, it is advisable to eat loads of protein.[12]

How a lot protein?

As we level out in our Information to Protein, roughly 1 gram for each pound of your weight, with an higher restrict of 250 grams.[13] Or two grams for each kilogram in case you are on the metric system. This implies:

  • If you happen to weigh 300 kilos (136 kg), eat 250g of protein.
  • If you happen to weigh 250 kilos (113 kg), eat 250g of protein.
  • If you happen to weigh 200 kilos (91 kg), eat 200g of protein.
  • If you happen to weigh 180 kilos (82 kg), eat 180g of protein.

The gist: don’t skip out on protein. It must be in your plate for each meal (we’ll present you precisely how a lot within the subsequent part).

If these generalized suggestions stress you out, and also you wish to know precisely what to do, we might help!

I’ll remind you of Nerd Health Teaching, the place we assist purchasers lose physique fats, acquire muscle, and degree up their lives. We offer tailor-made and particular suggestions primarily based in your physique and life-style, plus accountability and mindset adjustments to assist guarantee your new habits stick.

Nerd Fitness Coaching Banner


Toy Dinosaur holding a fork next to a slice of birthday cake on a blue background.

Keep in mind, your consuming technique wants to incorporate two factors to lose fats whereas gaining muscle:

  1. Maintain a caloric deficit.
  2. Prioritize protein so you may construct muscle even whereas in a deficit.

Chances are you’ll be pondering, “That’s all nicely and good Steve, however what’s that really seem like?

It appears like this!

A plate that that contains a portion of protein, healthy carb, veggies/fruit, and unsweetened drink.

Taken from The Nerd’s Information to Wholesome Consuming, which I actually need you to learn.

The plate consists of the next:

  • 1-2 servings of protein (¼ of plate)
  • 2 servings of greens (½ of plate)
  • 1 serving potatoes, rice, or pasta. (1/4th of plate)
  • 1 serving of fats (measurement of your thumb)
  • 1 zero-calorie or low-calorie beverage (water, food plan soda, tea)

By sticking to our Wholesome Plate technique above, you’ll concentrate on “REAL meals,” which is able to assist you preserve a caloric deficit over time.

Let’s hone in on protein for a second, as a result of it’s the important piece for “constructing muscle.”

Protein can come from any variety of sources, together with:

  • Meat (steak, bison, pork).
  • Poultry (rooster, turkey, duck).
  • Eggs![14]
  • Fish and shellfish (salmon, tuna, shrimp).
  • Legumes (black beans, chickpeas).

Not a meat-eater? Learn our large plant-based information!

A serving of protein is concerning the measurement and thickness of your palm.

A serving of protein should be about the size of your palm, like so.

*The 4 ozserving is for an raw piece of meat. Cooking reduces about 25% of the burden, bringing it right down to about 3 oz.

If you happen to’re curious, right here’s how a lot protein is in a serving of meals:

  • 4 oz (113 g) serving of rooster has round 30 g of protein.
  • 4 oz (113 g) serving of salmon has 23 g of protein
  • 4 oz (113 g) of steak has 28 g of protein.

Whereas the entire Wholesome Plate above is essential, I would like you to pay further consideration to your protein consumption since we are attempting to construct muscle.

If you happen to’re having hassle making your protein consumption targets, try our Information on Protein Dietary supplements for some ideas and methods to up your consumption, together with some superior smoothie recipes.

That is the precise technique I adopted to lose 22 kilos and get to single-digit physique fats percentages WHILE constructing muscle:

  • Carry tremendous heavy.
  • Eat LOTS of protein.
  • Cut back carb and fats consumption.

If you’re NOT dropping pounds, it means you’re nonetheless consuming too many energy. Hold your protein consumption excessive, and scale back your fats and carbohydrate consumption.

I cowl this in higher element in our “Why Can’t I Lose Weight?” information.

Finally, you’ll attain a standing the place there simply isn’t sufficient fats on you to assist with “Rebuild Muscle.” At this stage, you may not stick with a caloric deficit. You’ll have to flip to a slight “caloric surplus” to construct extra muscle.

Which implies you’ll must eat extra.

Like this turtle, you may reach a point where you have to eat more to gain muscle.

It’s debatable when this may truly happen, and we’re all completely different. Reaching 8% physique fats for males and 16% physique fats for ladies is an efficient place to begin.

I discuss this extensively in our information “How one can Construct Muscle.”

It covers methods to extend your energy for muscle acquire, from consuming plentiful quantities of Paleo meals to consuming sufficient milk to make Santa Claus jealous.

Santa is drinking milk to put on some muscle. The cookies are just because he likes them.

Go test it out should you’ve been having hassle placing on muscle.

I wish to stress that in case you are lifting heavy, and never gaining muscle, food plan is probably going the perpetrator.

It was my drawback for years, and I’ve seen it amongst numerous readers of Nerd Health who’ve hassle gaining muscle.

If you would like an skilled who will let you know precisely when to eat kind of, try our 1-on-1 On-line Teaching Program.

HOW TO TELL IF IT’S ALL WORKING (Persevering with to Lose Fats Whereas Gaining Muscle)

Now you're ready to start losing fat and gaining muscle!

If you happen to’re attempting to enhance one thing, it’s essential to trace it. This additionally holds true of physique composition.

Most individuals do that by leaping on the dimensions. This may be “okay,” but it surely’s solely going to inform a part of the story.

If you happen to’re constructing muscle whereas dropping fats, the dimensions won’t go down. [15]

Regardless of weighing the identical, you may probably have an improved physique.

Don't just look at the scale. You might have lost bodyfat and gained muscle, but the scale won't show it!

That’s why along with leaping on the dimensions, I’d additionally encourage you to take progress images.

Take entrance and facet images in your mirror, sporting underwear or a washing go well with. Every week, take new images, and report the quantity on the dimensions below the identical state of affairs. Two types of monitoring right here enable us to get the complete image.

The size generally lies!

If you happen to eat for a caloric deficit, power prepare, and prioritize protein, see what occurs.

Chances are you’ll end up dropping some fats and gaining muscle.

If not, observe every class:

Knowledge might help inform the story.

Data and numbers will help you know if you're losing fat and gaining muscle. Numbers, not the robot.

…I used to be pondering of detailed notes.

However an android can be useful too.

Oftentimes should you’re not seeing desired outcomes, notes and record-keeping might help level us within the path to make changes.

Take a look at your assumptions if issues don’t seem like on observe. Right here’s our Information on Monitoring Health Progress so that you can be taught extra.

The information outlined above will get you began dropping fats whereas constructing muscle, however should you’re trying to go a bit additional…

#1) If you would like step-by-step steerage on find out how to drop pounds, eat higher, and get stronger, try our killer 1-on-1 teaching program:

#2) If you would like an actual blueprint for getting in form, try NF Journey. Our enjoyable habit-building app helps you train extra ceaselessly, eat more healthy, and degree up your life (actually).

Attempt your free trial proper right here:

#3) Enlist within the Rise up! We have now a free e-mail e-newsletter that we ship out twice per week, stuffed with ideas and methods that can assist you get wholesome, get robust, and have enjoyable doing so.

I’ll additionally ship you tons of free guides that you should use to begin leveling up your life too:

Alright, I believe that about does it for this information.

Did I miss something? Do you might have any ideas and methods in relation to shedding physique fats and constructing muscle?

Share it with us!


PS: Be sure to learn the remainder of the articles in our “How one can Lose Weight 101” Sequence!

PPS: Chances are you’ll be asking…

Can I Physique Recomp perpetually?

No, you can’t lose physique fats whereas gaining muscle perpetually.

Whenever you’re first beginning off, specializing in physique composition is a good technique and can provide you a number of progress.

However with constant exercise and diet habits over many months and years, you could discover that your adjustments and progress slowing down or plateauing.

At this level for a lot of, going right into a extra distinct muscle/weight acquire part for a number of weeks, adopted by a fats/weight reduction part for a number of weeks will produce outcomes quicker than doing each on the identical time.

Does that imply it’s one of the best plan of action for everybody?

Not essentially!

  • For some, they benefit from the relative simplicity of physique recomposition techniques and it’s much less to mentally take into consideration. They nonetheless really feel nice, look a lot completely different than once they began, and are utterly content material with how all the pieces goes.
  • For others, switching from weight acquire/weight reduction phases is likely to be hectic and triggering, particularly if they’ve a checkered historical past with their diet. So whereas distinct phases of positive aspects and losses may match greatest in principle, they won’t be perfect for everybody.

Select what’s greatest for you!

And should you’re searching for a professional that can assist you navigate by all these questions and conditions, try Nerd Health On-line Teaching! The group spends all day speaking about these kinds of issues. That and Tremendous Smash Bros.


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