Probably, the most sought feat when it comes to bodybuilding is the unknown possibility of losing fat while gaining muscle.
Everybody’s searching for this secret formula to gaining muscle while losing fat.
There was a time when I would also search for “hidden” guides on how to lose fat and gain muscle mass and believe me, I did it almost daily.
I mean, who in the world wouldn’t want to know the answer?
It would be something as big as discovering how to diet or train to overcome ageing.
The Beginning Of Your Training
If you are training for some time, I can bet that you are remembering those times when muscle gaining and fat loss came ahead without too much effort.
I remember my first 5-6 months of training when I managed to lose fat while gaining a good amount of muscle mass even if my training program was chaotic (a typical steroid bodybuilder’s training program with countless sets and reps) and I basically ate anything I wanted.
The thing is that as time passes, this ability of gaining muscle while losing fat gets almost impossible to accomplish again.
Hitting A Plateau
There are two situations in which you can gain muscle while losing fat:
1. A beginner fat person – A fat person has a better fat loss and muscle gaining hormonal environment that can’t wait for the “host” to start training.
Having excess body fat comes with insulin resistance which means that fat cells develop the “ability” to “push” incoming fat from entering new fat cells which means that cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose tend to sit into bloodstream.
Also, an untrained person will always make muscle and strength gains faster.
So we have a person that’s insulin resistant (fat cells try to fight accepting more fat), beginner and untrained.
It’s like the perfect combination of fat loss furnace and muscle gaining machine.
Even if this situation sounds good, it won’t really last long in time because as that same individual becomes more advanced, the training and fat loss adaptations will slow this “holy grail” down to the point where it becomes impossible to continue in that state.
It will be like that because insulin sensitivity will get higher as you get leaner, preparing your body for easier fat gain and harder fat loss/muscle gaining.
Also the training stimulus will be higher and the general impact of a training session will get lower.
See what happened here?
So as you get leaner and more training adapted, everything starts to crumble: insulin sensitivity gets higher to the point your fat cells will gladly accept any additional caloric intake, your training status will get better, making you require a higher training stimulus while muscle gaining will get harder as training adaptations start to kick in.
2. A person returning from a layoff – a trained individual that left training for something better (I can hardly think that’s possible – joke), will come back to his latest trained state much faster than a beginner.
It’s like his body is programmed to gain that muscle mass he once had back a lot faster compared to a beginner.
These two “approaches” are general situations in which you might happen to find yourself gaining muscle mass while losing fat but even in these two best scenarios, the fat loss will usually be higher compared to muscle gaining.
And ultimately, muscle gaining will be almost inexistent while you will continue losing fat.
Heck, even keeping all your hard earned muscle mass will be quite difficult if you don’t construct a proper diet and training program to account for a whole lot of variables (I tried to optimize them in my book The No Bs Flexible Formula To Six Pack Abs).
Why It Is So Difficult To Lose Fat And Gain Muscle?
It all has to do with our ancestors: 5+ million years ago, a better survival of genes was attributed to those people that were smaller (conserving calories better) and fatter (more fat storage means more time without food).
Your body is far more concerned to protect your body fat than getting it off and also he’s more interested in maintaining a set balance point in bodyweight.
Ever wondered why you usually hover around a certain weight all the time?
Now you know.
Even if you want to learn how to gain muscle and lose fat, probably you won’t be able to do it because your body won’t let you.
More Of Why You Can’t Stuff
Losing fat and gaining muscle are two opposite things because they require two different scenarios when talking in terms of nutrition, training, hormones, etc.
In order to gain muscle, you must create a positive hormonal environment by having a caloric surplus along with a proper training stimulus.
In order to lose fat, you must try to keep an optimal hormonal environment by creating a proper caloric deficit while adjusting your training variables to suit that deficit.
Where Are Your Calories Going?
There’s a partition ratio going on in our body also known as the P-ratio that states that a certain percentage of calories will go to be stored as lean tissue and the rest as fat.
This is where genetics play a huge role and that’s why you see individuals that are gaining muscle mass way easier than you and individuals that are losing fat way easier than you.
P-ratio represents the amount of protein that is either gained or lost when you are in a deficit or surplus caloric state.
It all comes to genetics.
Having a low partition ratio means that you use very little protein and a lot of fat when dieting (which is a good thing) while having a higher partition ratio means that you used more protein and less fat (worst scenario).
The main “controllers” of this partition ratio are hormones like testosterone, cortisol, thyroid, nervous system activity, insulin, etc.
These hormones are mainly set by your genetics and can’t be controlled with diet or training (only drugs but we are not discussing this here).
What Happens When You Eat Less
This partition ratio is also controlled by initial body fat % so if you are starting to diet at a high % body fat, you lose more fat and less muscle with the reverse being true.
I could write a book on these hormones and their effect on body composition but I will try to give you the already “digested” information.
What you need to know is that when you diet, your body will start trying to “slow” fat loss by shutting down calorically costing activities like reproduction , immune system function, protein synthesis, trying to decrease the metabolic rate along with improved caloric storage.
Also, let’s not forget the hunger cravings…
These are just a few of the adaptations that occur with fat loss.
Without getting in details, the takeaway is that as you progress towards single digit body fat, your body will fight harder and harder to prevent you losing more fat.
Eating More Again
The awesome thing that happens when you start overeating is that the usual negative adaptations will reverse to a certain extent.
I say this because it depends on your body fat % and hormonal environment.
But basically what happens when you start eating more is: testosterone levels will go up, cortisol levels down, protein synthesis will also be improved along with insulin sensitivity, etc.
All of these improvements to your hormonal environment will have a positive effect when you will try to add muscle mass.
Lose Fat And Gain Muscle – A Possibility?
I am a realist person and I always like to tell people the straight facts.
You definitely CAN learn how to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time BUT accomplishing this “feat” will most likely make you “spin your wheels” around.
What most people accomplish by trying to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time is wasting time.
Losing fat is simple but adding muscle mass along is surely ALMOST impossible.
Would you rather gain 5-10 lbs of muscle/year with minimal fat and getting lean again, without worry or try to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time ineffectively (you will slow down your fat loss efforts while trying to “gain” muscle mass).
You have to be realistic here and understand that ultimately, losing fat will always be faster and you won’t be able to replace that fat lost with actual muscle mass.
There’s been an interesting book about achieving, and I made a special review of the holy grail body transformation program, and you can directly read more about the program by clicking here.