There is a myth that you can’t lose fat while gaining muscle, this is not true. Here are 9 tips for when, how, and what to exercise and eat to lose fat while gaining muscle.
Is your Goal to Lose Fat While Gaining Muscle
It is every gym goers goal to lose fat while gaining muscle. You may think that it can’t be done. You might believe that you must sacrifice one or the other. While it is true that you can either maximize fat loss or you can maximize muscle gains. You can also lose fat while gaining muscle at an optimal level.
- Jump Start With a Detox, Cleanse and Fast
- Increase Your Protein Intake
- Intense Resistance Training For Muscle Gain
- Intense Endurance Training to Burn Fat
- Alternate Strength Training and Fat Burning Workouts
- Increase the frequency and Optimize the Duration of Fat Burning Workouts
- Cycle Your Carbs
- Avoid Refined Carbohydrates
- Enjoy Healthy Fats
Why Traditional Fat Loss and Muscle Gain Don’t Work Together
You’re likely familiar with the traditional forms of muscle gain (bulking) and fat loss (cutting). When you want to gain muscle you lift heavy weights and eat a lot of protein and supplements. Commonly known as your bulking phase. When you want to burn fat, you eat fewer calories and do aerobic workouts. Also known as your cutting phase. You can see that they don’t work together, because in one you are eating more and the other less. Additionally, the exercises that work best for one don’t work well, or at all, for the other.
1. Jump Start With a Detox, Cleanse and Fast
The toughest part of dieting is not eating the right food; it is avoiding the wrong food. The best way to force your body to crave healthy food is to shock your body with a short fast. If you have never fasted before you should start out with 1 to 3 days. Additionally, you will find that fasting is much easier if you start with a colon detox and cleanse. Specifically, choose a cleanse that contains probiotics or add some probiotics to your cleanse.
Fast From Calories Not Everything
If you are addicted to caffeine, the hardest part of fasting might be kicking the caffeine habit. You can modify your fast by consuming coffee or caffeine pills. For this jump start fast, it is more important to not consume many or any calories. No matter how you fast you MUST consume enough water.
Kick Start Ketogenesis While Fasting
You can also use your fasting time to kick-start Ketogenesis. To kick start ketosis you must modify the fast to consume fat. The best way to do this is to use coconut oil, heavy cream, butter from grass-fed cows, or another plant-based oil. In particular, I like to do coconut oil or heavy cream. Additionally, you will need to consume extra salt if you are entering ketosis. This will help you prevent headaches and the Keto Flu. Since I like my caffeine and want my body to burn fat effectively I like the following during my fast.
- Coffee or tea with coconut oil and heavy cream, liquid stevia for taste if desired
- Chicken, vegetable, or beef bouillon soup with a little heavy cream
Eating After Your Fast
Starting to eat again after your fast is one of the most important times to have a good plan. The longer you have fasted the more critical it is to your body to eat the right food from the start. Trust me you will have plenty of time to think about how to eat healthily while you are not eating anything. You should introduce food slowly, and stay away from highly processed food. I like to start with homemade noodle-less chicken soup. To add a little more fat I will either put some more olive oil on it or make it creamy by adding a tablespoon of heavy cream to the bowl. After you come off your cleanse, you will need to ramp up your protein intake.
2. Increase Your Protein Intake
Once you have gotten through your fast you will need to raise your protein intake to a level that will enable your muscle to grow. I find the easiest method to do this is to drink a protein shake as soon as I wake up. Also if you know that you are going somewhere that your food options won’t support your diet, then take a protein shake with you. It is critical that if you want to gain muscle you eat enough protein to rebuild your muscles during recovery. As well, you will need to spread your protein consumption throughout the day, most dieticians recommend 5 times a day.
3. Intense Resistance Training For Muscle Gain
If you are a seasoned bodybuilder or powerlifter, you know there are different workout routines to gain mass and to gain strength. But both kinds of training build muscle. Consequently, if you are familiar with building muscle mass vs developing strength, you need to decide which one you want to focus on during your resistance training. To lose fat while gaining muscle you can choose to do strength workouts and mass workouts. You can either adapt and combine the routines or you can alternate every week or every few weeks your lifting strategy.
4. Intense Endurance Training to Burn Fat
There are many studies that show High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is much more efficient and effective at increasing your metabolic rate and burning fat than traditional endurance exercise. Admittedly the biggest problem with HIIT is that most workouts people are calling HIIT are actually just circuit training. Consequently, circuit training is not HIIT. In order for a training session to be HIIT, it must be high-intensity. You may think that your circuit training is high intensity, and it is if you can’t physically exercise for more than a minute or two before you need a break.
It Should Be Called MIIT
Really if we called HIIT Maximum Intensity Interval Training (MIIT) we would likely not get so confused. In other words, HIIT requires maximum effort such as an all-out sprint. This is usually done best on a stationary bike, elliptical or rowing machine. But, you can just as easily do it on a track. For burning fat, HITT protocols that do 10-15 seconds of all-out exercise followed by a walking pace recovery of 45-50 seconds works the best. When you do true HIIT you will supercharge your metabolism over traditional cardio giving you the Afterburn Effect.
If you want more information on the Afterburn Effect and how to properly do HIIT workouts look here. Afterburn Effect – HIIT Burns Calories For Hours After Your Workout.
5. Alternate Strength Training and Fat Burning Workouts
You may be surprised that building muscle doesn’t take hours a day at the gym, really it doesn’t take hours a week. Consequently, most people want to build muscle overtrain.
Gaining Muscle Naturally Requires Rest
We are talking about gaining muscle naturally here. So it is very important that you do not over-strength train. Your muscles are broken down at the gym but built in the days following the training. There is no good natural substitute for rest when it comes to building muscles naturally, the only thing that speeds this process up is steroids and growth hormones. Although you can speed up your muscle recovery and reduce soreness naturally, you need to let your muscle fully recover between strength training. This leaves ample time to perform some fat-burning workouts.
Complement Your Strength Training and Fat Burning Routines
There are many fat-burning exercise routines that you can do that complement your strength training. One of the best is cycling or spinning. At the end of a resistance training session for legs, especially where you did squats, you should end the routine with some cycling and stretching. For instance, if you cycle for just 3 minutes at the end of the strength training you will drastically reduce muscle soreness and increase mobility. Moreover, cycling has been found to complement strength training and stationary bike cycling is one of the best-studied methods of HIIT.
Endurance Exercises That Complement Strength Training
- Cycling for Leg Strength Training
- Rowing for Back, Arms, and Leg Strength Training
- Elliptical for Chest, Back, Arms and Legs Strength Training
- Swimming for all Strength Training
These are good low-impact endurance exercises that can be used for HIIT that burn fat
6. Increase the Frequency and Optimize the Duration of Fat Burning Workouts
If you really want to raise and maintain your metabolism high all day, you need to spread your workout plan throughout the day. If you traditionally work out for 30 minutes or more you will get a lot more fat-burning benefits if you spread that out to 3 workouts of 10 minutes or equivalent throughout the day. You may find it very challenging to do a HIIT workout 3 times a day, but if you do, you will be amazed at your energy levels. Your metabolic rate will be in high gear all day. Although the most difficult thing I find is adding the additional time required to change clothes and shower after intense workouts.
Walking is a Fallback Fat Burning Exercise
However, you can substitute some of these HIIT workouts for walking. For example, you could perform a HIIT workout in the morning, and then, take 10 to 30-minute walks during lunchtime and at dinner time. Although you will not get as much of a fat-burning benefit from walking as you would from even a short HIIT workout, you will still boost your metabolic rate. Accordingly, you will boost your metabolism longer if you spread your workout time out throughout the day. Thus burning more fat for the day than you would if you did just one long workout of the equivalent time.
7. Cycle Your Carbs
Carb cycling can be very challenging, but there are some great benefits. You can make carb cycling very complicated, but we will make it as simple as possible to get the benefits of losing fat while gaining muscle. For this method, we will have two kinds of carb days, high carb days and low-carb days. On high-carb days, you will do strength training, and low-carb days are every day that is recovery from strength training.
- High Carb days ~2 grams of carbs per lb of lean body mass
- Low Carb days ~1/2 grams of carbs per lb of lean body mass
During the high-carb days, you will replenish glycogen, boost hormones for protein synthesis and temporarily elevate insulin to increase muscle growth.
For the Low Carb Days, you will be maximizing your fat burning.
8. Avoid Refined Carbohydrates
My favorite diet is the slow-carb diet for two reasons. The first reason is that diets only work if you stick to them, and the slow-carb diet is the one most people can stick to. The second reason is that if you adopt just two rules of the slow-carb diet as a lifestyle choice it can change your life. Specifically, the rules “No White Carbs or Carbs that Could Be White” and “No Refined Sugar”. If you follow these two rules most of the carbs you eat will be good carbs.
- White Carbs are Bread, Rice, Potatoes, Noodles, etc.
- Refined sugars are Soda, Candy, Cake, Ice Cream, etc.
9. Enjoy Healthy Fats
Marketing has led us to believe that eating fat is bad for us, but this is absolutely not true. This was so bad that Congress had to get involved in 1990 and passed The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (NLEA) putting standards on things like “low fat”. This didn’t really change anything for marketers though. What it did was make manufacturers of ultra-process food to be able to use the label low fat. The “low fat” label that marketers started made us believe low-fat was healthy but instead became synonymous with processed. However, not all fats are good fats and most of the good fats are used to accent or prepare delicious food. Try ensuring your diet has some of these fats:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Coconuts and Coconut Oil
- Peanut Oil
- Nuts and Nut Butters
- Dark Chocolate
- Chia Seeds
- Whole Eggs
- Full-Fat Yogurt
- Grass Fed Beef Butter
- Fish Fat or Oil