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 achieve muscle.

That they simply can’t be carried out concurrently.

To this, I say, “Hogwash!”

We’ve 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 immediately’s information!

We’ll accomplish that by discussing:

Plus, I’ve tons of candy LEGO pictures and foolish gifs on their means, which is all the time an excellent time.

What’s Physique Recomposition?

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

So sure, the method is certainly potential, so long as you comply with the suitable plan.

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

Simply ask our good friend 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 unbelievable story!

Nevertheless, as I discussed within the intro, you’ll typically hear that shedding fats whereas gaining muscle is inconceivable. The argument goes that you must simply deal with one or the opposite, as a result of doing each without delay 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 shedding fats whereas gaining muscle will be problematic, we have to discover each processes.

Let’s think about 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 realize muscle, your physique must be in a caloric surplus. This surplus supplies the vitality your physique requires to restore and construct larger muscle tissues.

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

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

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 shedding 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 terms of shedding 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 vitality necessities.

(In the event you’re curious, you’ll be able to 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’ll additionally break down muscle too.[2]

Mentioned once more: if you find yourself consuming a caloric deficit, your physique will pull from each its fats shops AND present muscle for vitality.

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 motive: your purpose in health shouldn’t solely be “weight reduction,” regardless of the widespread vernacular used.

Who cares what the size says, proper?

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

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

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

This is the reason there’s a massive marketplace for units that supposedly assess your physique fats proportion.

By decreasing your complete fats in your physique, OR growing muscle mass, you’ll find yourself with a decrease physique fats proportion (it’s only a easy ratio of fats to every part 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 talk about recommendations on preserving and rising your muscle whereas in a calorie deficit later on this information. For now, bear in mind you want fewer energy “in” in comparison with energy “out” for weight reduction to happen, from both fats shops or muscle.

You might 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’ place to begin 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), you must create a caloric deficit of 500 energy per day.

Your choices to create this caloric deficit embody:

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

Which is simpler?

Listed below 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.


On the subject of sustaining a caloric deficit, it actually comes right down to food plan.

It’s considerably simpler 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 gained’t make you skinny.” It’s too straightforward 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 Food plan.

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

To lose physique fats, you must watch what you eat, and accomplish that in a sustainable means.

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 deal with: 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 suggests 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 pictures.

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 whole bagel, no downside. Plates of broccoli, with all the fiber, are a lot more durable to overeat.

We lay all of it out in our Newbie’s Information to Wholesome Consuming. It’ll present recommendations on learn how to regularly create habits that get you to a “REAL meals” means of consuming, together with correct portion sizes, recommendations on 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 grow to be everlasting.

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

It’s a method 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 likely be 80%-90% of the equation for shedding physique fats.

The opposite 10-20%? Train.

In fact 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 should elevate heavy issues and be sure 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:

  • Elevate heavy issues
  • Eat a food plan based mostly in your objectives
  • Relaxation so your physique can get well

Let’s chat about every one shortly.

#1) Elevate heavy issues

I’ll all the time be on Staff Power Coaching. In the event you’re seeking to construct muscle, you’re gonna have to elevate heavy issues.

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

While you elevate an object (or your personal body weight) sufficient instances, your muscle tissues attain the purpose of failure. This causes your muscle tissues to tear and breakdown.

When your muscle rebuilds itself following the exercise, it’ll be larger and stronger than earlier than. Then you definitely 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!

Unsure the place to begin on a Power Coaching follow? No downside! You’ll be able to obtain our free information Power Coaching 101: Every little thing You Must Know once you be part of the Rebel (our free neighborhood) beneath:

#2) Eat a food plan based mostly in your objectives

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

Simply know that consuming the suitable amount of meals will likely be a giant a part of gaining muscle.

#3) Relaxation

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

In the event you’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 learn how to construct power: problem your muscle tissues, eat properly, and get some relaxation.

Let’s slender in on our second level, “Eat a food plan based mostly in your objectives.” It’ll grow to be crucial when balancing each shedding physique fats and gaining muscle.

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

The way to Lose Fats WHILE Gaining Muscle (The Science)

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

To reply the query of shedding physique fats and gaining muscle on the similar time, I’d wish 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 comparable operation: every single day it receives new energy (once you eat), and it must determine what to do with them!

For instance:

You eat a hen 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 type these energy into considered one of three homes:[6]

A. Burn for Gasoline.

B. Rebuild Muscle.

C. Retailer as Fats.

Proper now, once you eat meals, your physique types most of these energy into “Burn for Gasoline.”

There’s a lot of energy your physique wants every day simply present: to maintain your liver functioning, your coronary heart pumping, your mind working, to manage your physique temperature, and so forth – it burns an excellent chunk of energy simply preserving the lights on.

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

That is your “Basal Metabolic Charge” 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: While 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 need to preserve the muscle we’ve (or develop it) whereas eliminating the fats!

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

  1. You power practice usually, and your muscle tissues break down and should 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 Gasoline” 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 ensure all of the work nonetheless will get carried out, together with your each day capabilities as a human and rebuilding the muscle you tore aside.

Mentioned one other means:

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

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

Which means larger muscle tissues with a decrease belt dimension.[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’ll be able to 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 shedding physique fats and constructing muscle on the similar 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 if you happen to’re in a calorie deficit.

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

Bear in mind the Sorting Hat analogy:

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

We need 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 based mostly on REAL meals, that information will assist get you there.
  2. Figuring out the Good Food plan for You.” I speak about the advantages of making a Psychological Mannequin on vitamin like Intermittent Fasting, Paleo or Keto (or Paleolithic Ketogenic) to assist navigate all of the meals decisions you must make.
  3. Rely energy: This implies studying your complete each day vitality expenditure, and monitoring your different energy via an app (and/or weighing your meals).

You don’t should comply with 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 practice

In the event you may promote a tablet that could possibly be prescribed to each single individual on Earth to make them more healthy, it might 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 finest issues you are able to do on your physique.[9]

And actually, if you happen to need to construct muscle, you’re gonna have to elevate one thing! Both weights or your personal body weight.

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

To construct muscle:

Elevate lighter weights for plenty of reps.

Elevate actually heavy with fewer reps.

The essential factor: decide a method and get began.

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

Listed below are 3 paths ahead:

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

To recap: if you happen to practice heavy and eat a caloric deficit, your physique will pull from its fats shops to each gas itself and probably additionally construct muscle. This can be 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 shedding 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 once you reduce out energy to create a caloric deficit, don’t reduce them from protein sources.

Research have proven that contributors can achieve 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:

In the event you don’t need your physique cannibalizing its muscle tissues when you are in a caloric deficit, you must 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:

  • In the event you weigh 300 kilos (136 kg), eat 250g of protein.
  • In the event you weigh 250 kilos (113 kg), eat 250g of protein.
  • In the event you weigh 200 kilos (91 kg), eat 200g of protein.
  • In the event you weigh 180 kilos (82 kg), eat 180g of protein.

The gist: don’t skip out on protein. It ought to 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 need to know precisely what to do, we will help!

I’ll remind you of Nerd Health Teaching, the place we assist purchasers lose physique fats, achieve muscle, and stage up their lives. We offer tailor-made and particular suggestions based mostly in your physique and way of life, 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.

Bear 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’ll be able to construct muscle even whereas in a deficit.

You might be pondering, “That’s all properly and good Steve, however what’s that truly appear to be?

It appears to be like like this!

If your meal plate looks like this, you're doing great!

Taken from our Information to Begin Consuming Wholesome, 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 (dimension 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 deal with “REAL meals,” which can provide help to keep a caloric deficit over time.

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

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

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

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

A serving of protein is in regards to the dimension 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 load, bringing it right down to about 3 oz.

In the event you’re curious, right here’s how a lot protein is in a serving of meals:

  • 4 oz (113 g) serving of hen 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 all the Wholesome Plate above is essential, I need you to pay further consideration to your protein consumption since we try to construct muscle.

In the event you’re having bother making your protein consumption objectives, 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 bodyfat proportion WHILE constructing muscle:

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

In case you are NOT reducing weight, it means you’re nonetheless consuming too many energy. Preserve your protein consumption excessive, and scale back your fats and carbohydrate consumption.

I cowl this in better element in our “why can’t I shed pounds?” 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’ll be able to not stick with a caloric deficit. You’ll have to flip to a slight “caloric surplus” to construct extra muscle.

Which suggests you’ll should 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 totally different. Reaching 8% physique fats for males and 16% physique fats for girls is an efficient place to begin.

I speak about this extensively in our information “The way to Construct Muscle.”

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

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

Go test it out if you happen to’ve been having bother placing on muscle.

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

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

If you would like an knowledgeable who will inform you 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!

In the event you’re making an attempt 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 size. This may be “okay,” nevertheless it’s solely going to inform a part of the story.

In the event you’re constructing muscle whereas shedding fats, the size may not go down. You would possibly even weigh extra!

Regardless of weighing extra, you might probably have a greater 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 size, I might additionally encourage you to take progress pictures.

Take entrance and aspect pictures in your mirror, carrying underwear or a showering go well with. Every week, take new pictures, and report the quantity on the size underneath the identical situation. Two types of monitoring right here permit us to get the total image.

The dimensions generally lies!

In the event you eat for a caloric deficit, power practice, and prioritize protein, see what occurs.

You might end up shedding some fats and gaining muscle.

If not, observe every class:

Information will 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 if you happen to’re not seeing desired outcomes, notes and record-keeping will help level us within the path to make changes.

Check your assumptions if issues don’t look like on observe. Right here’s our Information on Monitoring Health Progress so that you can study extra.

The ideas outlined above will get you began shedding fats whereas constructing muscle, however if you happen to’re seeking to go a bit additional…

#1) If you would like step-by-step steerage on learn how to shed 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 stage up your life (actually).

Strive your free trial proper right here:

#3) Enlist within the Rebel! We’ve a free electronic mail publication that we ship out twice per week, filled with ideas and methods that will help 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 may have any ideas and methods in terms of shedding physique fats and constructing muscle?

Share it with us!


PS: Ensure you learn the remainder of the articles in our “The way to Lose Weight 101” Sequence!


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