Out of all the fitness topics circulating the internet, this one is tremendously popular. In my opinion, the majority of videos and articles providing answers are either misleading or contain way too much “fluff” (unnecessary and confusing information). In the words of Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
So let’s cut to the chase, is it possible to burn fat and gain muscle at the same time? And if yes, how do you do it?
I’m going to answer both questions from a scientific perspective with no fluff!
Is This Even Possible?
Yes! It is absolutely possible to burn fat and gain muscle at the same time. If of course you are referring to time as over a period of weeks and months.
This process is known as Body Recomposition and there are countless examples of individuals who have gone from manatee to great white shark in a matter of months!
Based on current science and personal experience, you should make 3 key adjustments to not only see results, but sustain them as well:
Participate in a periodized training program
Consume high quality macronutrients
Properly manage rest and fatigue
Lets have a look at what each key looks like in greater detail.
Periodization training is the deliberate manipulation of training variables to optimize performance, prevent overtraining, and maximize results. Variables including workout duration, load, and/or volume are planned out over a specific period of time to achieve these objectives.
Periodized programs are not only extremely effective, but they typically don’t get stale. Each workout is different every single time! One day you’re doing a three repetition max attempt; the next day you might be doing a 30 minute steady state cardio piece. This leads to better engagement, increased compliance and consistency which are pivotal to yield results.
You can make one of these programs yourself, or check out some of the stuff created by other fitness professionals. They are inexpensive and fairly straightforward to follow. Choose something you like and can stick with for an extended period of time.
High Quality Macronutrients
Even though I denounce calorie counting, proper nutrition is still very important. Not only do you need to be consuming appropriate amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, but you need to be consuming the RIGHT ones!
Think of macronutrient consumption the same way as types of gasoline at the pump. Better gas leads to better performance on the road from your car. Better macronutrients lead to better performance in the gym from your muscles.
Here’s a very general guide of high vs low quality macros for your reference that I borrowed from a friend of mine who is a Registered Dietician:
Notice how choosing high quality macros doesn’t necessarily have to break the bank. Raw spinach, carrots, lentils, and eggs are extremely nutrient dense and relatively easy on the wallet.
If you’re looking for a custom tailored plan, I highly encourage you to speak with a Registered Dietician. It takes a lot of work and time to become a Dietician. Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist or nutrition expert!
Managing Rest & Fatigue
Lets face it, it is virtually impossible to operate at maximum effort every single workout; especially in a periodized plan. Not necessarily because your muscles will burn out or the added injury risk (which are still valid concerns). It is because your brain could get “foggy.”
This fogginess is also known as Central Nervous System (CNS) fatigue and it can be just as debilitating as sore muscles. It is not the sensation of mental exhaustion following a heavy workout; but rather, it is defined as “a reduced ability to maximally activate a muscle.”
This added drain might lead to an unplanned rest day, or illness which could keep you out of the gym for a while. I do not suggest adding in 3-4 rest days a week; but it is important to ensure your program has days where you aren’t putting in maximum effort.
One or two days could be “technique focused” using lighter weights. Or you are doing an activity that doesn’t require much thought, but still contributes to the greater goal (ie: steady state cardio).
Making sure you are getting a minimum of 7-8 hours of consistent shut-eye per night and that your gym and sleep schedules are consistent helps conserve energy. This translates to less stress on your brain and more energy can be devoted to working hard.
Work With A Pro:
At Stephen Fitness & Rehabilitation, we provide premium one on one personal training and exercise therapy in the comfort of home.
We prescribe and supervise exercise routines that are specifically designed for individuals in London & Oakville, Ontario who are looking to change their body composition.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one(s) become stronger, more mobile and independent in the comfort of home!