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

There’s an argument within the health world you can both select to lose fats OR achieve muscle.

They simply can’t be completed concurrently.

To this, I say, “Hogwash!”

We now have 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 right now’s information!

We’ll accomplish that by discussing:

Plus, I’ve tons of candy LEGO pictures and foolish gifs on their manner, which is at all times a great 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 doable, so long as you comply with the proper plan.

…however you don’t should 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 unbelievable story!

Nevertheless, as I discussed within the intro, you’ll typically hear that shedding fats whereas gaining muscle is not possible. The argument goes that it is best to simply give attention to one or the opposite, as a result of doing each without delay is destined to fail.

Let’s discover this declare.

Shedding Fats and Gaining Muscle on the Identical Time (The Controversy)

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

To grasp why shedding fats whereas gaining muscle could 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 gasoline.

  • To realize muscle, your physique must be in a caloric surplus. This surplus gives the vitality your physique requires to restore and construct greater muscle tissue.

Given this, shedding fats (caloric deficit) on the identical time one is gaining muscle (caloric surplus) appears not possible.

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 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 with regards to shedding physique fats.

The easy 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 might be consuming, you might be in a “caloric deficit.” Your physique doesn’t have the energy it wants as gasoline, so it’ll begin breaking down elements of itself for its vitality necessities.

(For those who’re curious, you possibly can calculate your day by day caloric wants right here).

The hope is that your physique will largely pull from fats shops, although relying on how you might be coaching it can additionally break down muscle too.[2]

Stated once more: if you find yourself consuming a caloric deficit, your physique will pull from each its fats shops AND current 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 aim in health shouldn’t solely be “weight reduction,” regardless of the frequent 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 aim as a substitute is to cut back physique fats whereas additionally preserving the muscle you have got (and even constructing extra muscle).

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

Because of this there’s a large marketplace for units that supposedly assess your physique fats proportion.

By lowering the whole 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 little thing 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, 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 this can be 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 aim for some), it is advisable 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 mixture of the 2

Which is less complicated?

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

  • The variety of energy present in a Massive 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 regimen.

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 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 Eating regimen.

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

To lose physique fats, it is advisable watch what you eat, and accomplish that in a sustainable manner.

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

Right here’s one other thought we give attention to: 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 sometimes 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 amazing 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 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 recommendations on learn how to regularly create habits that get you to a “REAL meals” manner 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 gradual, so new habits of wholesome consuming turn into everlasting.

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

It’s a method we work intently with our teaching purchasers on: small dietary changes they really feel snug 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.

After all it’s train.

That’s a fairly good segue into…


Toy Hulk and the wilds trunks of huge plants

If you wish to construct muscle, you’ll should 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:

  • Elevate heavy issues
  • Eat a food regimen based mostly in your targets
  • Relaxation so your physique can get better

Let’s chat about every one rapidly.

#1) Elevate heavy issues

I’ll at all times be on Staff Power Coaching. For those who’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 individual body weight) sufficient instances, 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 greater and stronger than earlier than. You then do it once more.

And once more.

And once more.

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

Undecided the place to begin on a Power Coaching follow? No drawback! You’ll be able to obtain our free information Power Coaching 101: Every part You Must Know if you be part of the Revolt (our free group) under:

#2) Eat a food regimen based mostly in your targets

As a result of your muscle must be rebuilt after train, the energy are gonna want to come back from someplace. I’ll speak quite a bit about correct food regimen 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 proper amount of meals will likely 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 evening. I’m speaking 7-8+ hours. This may assist guarantee your physique has the time it must develop stronger.

For those who’re energy 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 quick gist of learn how to construct energy: problem your muscle tissue, eat effectively, and get some relaxation.

Let’s slender in on our second level, “Eat a food regimen based mostly in your targets.” It’ll turn into essential when balancing each shedding physique fats and gaining muscle.

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

Easy methods 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 identical 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 children will name their house.

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

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

Your physique operates on a VERY comparable operation: day-after-day it receives new energy (if you eat), and it must determine 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 selections. It’ll type these energy into certainly one of three homes:[6]

A. Burn for Gasoline

B. Rebuild Muscle

C. Retailer as Fats

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

There’s numerous energy your physique wants every day simply current: to maintain your liver functioning, your coronary heart pumping, your mind working, to manage your physique temperature, and so forth – it burns a great 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 whole sections to above.

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

Nevertheless, our aim 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 situation the place we pull all this collectively by energy coaching heavy AND lowering our caloric consumption:

  1. You energy practice often, and your muscle tissue break down and have to be rebuilt.
  2. You don’t devour sufficient energy to each rebuild muscle and gasoline 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 over time 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 completed, together with your day by day features as a human and rebuilding the muscle you tore aside.

Stated one other manner:

You probably 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 vitality.

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

Which means greater 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 possibly can 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 carry this all collectively and create some actionable steps to shedding 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 in case you’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:

For those who’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 constantly.

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

  1. Newbie’s Information to Wholesome Consuming. If you’d like ideas and methods to create habits based mostly on REAL meals, that information will assist get you there.
  2. Figuring out the Good Eating regimen 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 selections it is advisable make.
  3. Depend energy: This implies studying your complete day by day vitality expenditure, and monitoring your different energy by 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 individual food regimen (which is what I do). Be taught all about it proper right here.

#2) Power practice

For those who 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 energy 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 likely one of the finest issues you are able to do on your physique.[9]

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

It is advisable to problem your muscle tissue 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 many reps.

Elevate actually heavy with fewer reps.

The vital 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. Observe certainly one of our 5 Newbie Power Coaching Routines.
  3. Undergo our 6 Stage Gymnasium Exercises.

To recap: in case you practice heavy and eat a caloric deficit, your physique will pull from its fats shops to each gasoline itself and doubtlessly additionally construct muscle. It is a double whammy of AWESOME.

#3) Prioritize protein

Exterior of being in a caloric deficit and lifting weights (or your self), consuming sufficient protein is likely 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 if you minimize out energy to create a caloric deficit, don’t minimize 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 vital sufficient that I’ll say it once more:

For those who don’t need your physique cannibalizing its muscle tissue while you’re in a caloric deficit, it is advisable 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 if you’re on the metric system. This implies:

  • For those who weigh 300 kilos (136 kg), eat 250g of protein.
  • For those who weigh 250 kilos (113 kg), eat 250g of protein.
  • For those who weigh 200 kilos (91 kg), eat 200g of protein.
  • For those who weigh 180 kilos (82 kg), eat 180g of protein.

The gist: don’t skip out on protein. It needs 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 wish to know precisely what to do, we may 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 life-style, plus accountability and mindset modifications 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 possibly can construct muscle even whereas in a deficit.

Chances are you’ll be considering, “That’s all effectively and good Steve, however what’s that truly seem like?

It seems to be 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 regimen soda, tea)

By sticking to our Wholesome Plate technique above, you’ll give attention to “REAL meals,” which can allow you to keep a caloric deficit over time.

Let’s hone in on protein for a second, as a result of it’s the vital 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 in regards to the measurement and thickness of your palm.

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

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

For those who’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 vital, I would like you to pay further consideration to your protein consumption since we are attempting to construct muscle.

For those who’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:

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

If you’re NOT losing a few pounds, it means you might be nonetheless consuming too many energy. Hold your protein consumption excessive, and cut back your fats and carbohydrate consumption.

I cowl this in larger 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 possibly can 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 it will truly happen, and we’re all totally 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 “Easy methods to Construct Muscle.”

It covers methods to extend your energy for muscle achieve, 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 in case you’ve been having hassle placing on muscle.

I wish to stress that if you’re lifting heavy, and never gaining muscle, food regimen is probably going the offender.

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

If you’d 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!

For those who’re attempting to enhance one thing, it’s vital to trace it. This additionally holds true of physique composition.

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

For those who’re constructing muscle whereas shedding fats, the size won’t go down. [15]

Regardless of weighing the identical, you may doubtlessly 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 size, I’d additionally encourage you to take progress pictures.

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

The dimensions typically lies!

For those who eat for a caloric deficit, energy practice, and prioritize protein, see what occurs.

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

If not, observe every class:

Knowledge may 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 considering of detailed notes.

However an android can be useful too.

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

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

The guidelines outlined above will get you began shedding fats whereas constructing muscle, however in case you’re trying to go a bit additional…

#1) If you’d like step-by-step steerage on learn how to drop a few pounds, eat higher, and get stronger, try our killer 1-on-1 teaching program:

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

Strive your free trial proper right here:

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

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

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

Did I miss something? Do you have got any ideas and methods with regards to shedding physique fats and constructing muscle?

Share it with us!


PS: Be sure to learn the remainder of the articles in our “Easy methods to Lose Weight 101” Sequence!

PPS: Chances are you’ll be asking…

Can I Physique Recomp eternally?

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

Whenever you’re first beginning off, specializing in physique composition is a good technique and may give you loads of progress.

However with constant exercise and diet habits over many months and years, chances are you’ll discover that your modifications and progress slowing down or plateauing.

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

Does that imply it’s the perfect 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 totally different than after they began, and are utterly content material with how every little thing goes.
  • For others, switching from weight achieve/weight reduction phases is perhaps traumatic and triggering, particularly if they’ve a checkered historical past with their diet. So whereas distinct phases of positive aspects and losses may fit finest in idea, they won’t be ideally suited for everybody.

Select what’s finest for you!

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


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