Most, if not all body builders and fitness enthusiasts alike, aim to have a ripped, muscular body. For several years now, the age-old question of whether it is possible to gain muscle and burn fat at the same time has been the subject for discussion. With numerous views from professionals to people in the trenches, it is very hard to sift through to facts. Many are of the opinion that you have to choose between the two so as to reach optimal success and that it is futile to attempt both simultaneously since they seem to have conflicting results.
To some individuals, it is a fool’s errand. Others say it can only be achieved with innovative diet and training procedures. Others believe it needs steroids.
Still, they are all mistaken.
While many think it is an impossible feat to achieve, others think it is easy. However, both of them are wrong.
The fact is it is feasible. And the good news is that it does not need hidden knowledge, advanced approaches, or drugs.
Even so, there are a number of catches. The question of whether you may or may not be able to develop muscle while losing fat is determined by your body composition and training experience. You need to understand why.
First, it is important to look at some basic physiology associated with the manner in which muscles grow and fat cells shrivel.
Why is losing fat and gaining muscle difficult?
It is quite logical for many people to think that developing muscle and losing fat concurrently is a mere pipe dream. And it has to do with something called protein synthesis.
Each day, your muscles undergo “repair work” where impaired and degraded cells are removed and fresh cells created to replace them. This procedure is referred to as protein synthesis or protein biosynthesis.
In normal health and dietary conditions, muscle tissue is relatively stable and the cellular degradation and regeneration cycle remains balanced. This means that the ordinary person doesn’t lose or gain muscle at a faster rate. The lean mass comparatively remains on the same level every day.
If you want to lose fat, you should create a “calorie deficit” – that is, give your body less energy (food) than it burns over time. This is the most crucial factor in weight loss.
However, calorie deficit has some negative side effects. It causes changes in hormone profile that leads to a state (catabolic) where muscle breakdown is higher. Thus, the body’s ability to create muscle proteins is directly interfered with.
This is why it is generally (and not universally) true that it is impossible to build muscle while in a calorie deficit. But fortunately, you probably can do it.
If you have been into proper weightlifting for 3 to 4 years or more and you have built your foundation of size and strength, you can only hope for (naturally) about 5 pounds of muscle gain per year – at most. Women can expect roughly half of that.
However, people new to weightlifting stand to benefit a lot from what is referred to as “newbie gains”.
These gains are genuine and you can exploit them.
A body that is rather untrained is going to over-react to resistance training to the extent that the decrease in protein synthesis amounts caused by a calorie deficit is not sufficient to halt muscle growth. Consequently, muscle can be built while fat is lost in certain circumstances.