If your goal is to burn fat while building muscle, you will likely hear advice to bulk up because you can’t do both. But only some people want to add more weight – and that’s okay! It’s entirely possible to ‘recompose’ – add muscle while burning fat – but it’s a tricky balancing act.
First, you must fuel your body with the right combination of protein, carbs, and fats to feed your muscle growth and access fat stores. Diet is essential, but exercise is also important. Combine resistance training and high-intensity cardio to get the most out of your recomposition journey.
Protein is critical; you should have 1g per lb. of body weight daily. Protein shakes can help you hit that target – and here are my most effective techniques to ensure you’re walking the fine line of burning fat while building muscle.
Tip 1: Get Enough Protein
Eating enough protein every day helps protect your muscle tissue from breaking down. Your body needs amino acids, and when they’re floating around in your system, it knows it doesn’t need to break down muscle to get them. So, don’t be shy when it comes to your protein consumption. Aim for at least 1 gram per pound of your body weight, or even more if you’re pushing hard in the gym or trying to get seriously lean.
Believe it or not, research has shown that eating five times the recommended daily protein amount (0. 36 grams per pound of body weight) has absolutely no adverse effects on body-fat stores! Plus, a high-protein diet can help boost your metabolism, leading to more calories burned throughout the day. The scientific term for this process is the thermic effect of food (TEF). Ready to up your daily protein intake? Protein shakes are an easy and delicious way to do it!
Tip 2: Focus on Compound Exercises
Ready to build serious muscle? Then forget those endless circuits and light weights. Instead, focus on the heavy hitters – the compound movements like squats, deadlifts, presses, and rows. These moves let you lift the most weight and stimulate the most total muscle mass possible, so they should be the basis of every workout. Keep increasing the weight over time, aiming for 5-8 reps per set.
Still, remember high-rep training, and make sure you’re using a challenging weight to complete 15-20 reps. A combination of heavy resistance and high-rep training is the key to serious muscle growth.
If you need a training plan check out our Workout Plans section.
Tip 3: Increase Resistance Over Time
Ready to burn fat while building muscle? Increase your resistance in the gym over time! As you lift heavier weights, your muscles become stronger, more efficient, and better able to handle the weight. Plus, your muscles break down and rebuild with more muscle fibers, increasing size and strength.
Tip 4: Incorporate Interval Training
Don’t make the mistake of doing hours of steady-state cardio if you’re trying to shed body fat! This type of exercise can burn calories, but it can also push you into a caloric deficit where you may lose muscle mass instead of fat.
If you’re aiming for a lean, muscular build, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the way to go. Research proves it helps you preserve muscle mass and enhances fat use as fuel – a winning combo! But remember, HIIT puts a significant demand on your body, so don’t do it daily. Instead, stick to 1-3 sessions per week (max 3!). And if you feel like HIIT is taking away from your gains in the weight room, take it down a notch.
Tip 5: Create an Effective Meal Plan
It’s possible to burn fat while building muscle – but you need to find your caloric sweet spot. The key to success is to eat enough calories to fuel muscle building while encouraging fat release. Don’t think of it as a diet – you want to increase muscle tissue while preferentially burning stored fat. To get the most out of your efforts in the gym, you need to find the right balance of macronutrients and enough calories to power your progress.
Reduce Your Carb Intake
It’s time to cut down on your carbs – but don’t cut them out completely! Instead, schedule your carbs for when they’ll make the most significant difference – two hours before and right after your workout. Then, for the rest of the day, turn to high-fiber vegetables for energy and to stave off hunger.
Start by aiming for 1.5 grams of carbs per pound of body weight. However, your carb intake should be adjusted depending on your activity levels on any given day. For example, aim for 0.75-1.0 grams per pound if you’re not training.
Tip 6: Increase Your Fiber Intake
Studies have shown that increasing dietary fiber intake can help you lower your body mass index, reduce fat mass, increase lean muscle mass, improve glucose control, and increase strength. This makes increased fiber a must if your goal is to burn fat while building muscle.
Tip 7: Track Your Progress
If you want to stay motivated and achieve your fitness goals, it’s essential to track your progress. Witnessing your body’s changes and seeing the improvements in your overall well-being are great motivators. Plus, tracking your progress will help you stay focused and get the most out of every workout.
Tip 8: Get Plenty of Sleep
Are you looking to get the most out of your workouts? Studies show that adequate sleep is vital! In fact, the more sleep individuals in the study got, the more likely they were to complete their exercise regimen.
Not only will a good night’s rest give you more drive and strength to maximize your workout, but its effects on concentration, mood, and focus can also make you more efficient and better prepared for that workout.
Tip 9: Stay Hydrated
Hydrate to perform better! Drinking enough water replenishes lost fluids and gives you the energy boost you need to power through your workouts. In addition, staying hydrated helps with movement, recovery, and agility, enhancing your physical performance and reducing the chance of injury while you exercise.
Tip 10: Utilize Supplements
Get ready to find your ideal physique! Here are the top supplements to help you burn fat while building muscle, propelling you toward your body goals.
You may find yourself in a caloric deficit when trying to burn fat while building muscle. At these times, it is crucial to ensure that you still get enough protein to recover and keep growing. Protein supplements meet this need!
Creatine is an absolute must-have if you’re serious about muscle growth and performance. Not only does it help increase power and strength, but studies have shown that it also aids recovery and aerobic performance. As a result, it’s an ideal combination for lifting and cardio-intensive workouts. Furthermore, creatine has been proven to help trained athletes keep their strength and athletic ability while reducing weight – all essential for reaching your fitness goals.
Nitric Oxide Boosters
Nitric oxide (NO) boosters like L-citrulline and nitrates are great for controlling fatigue and delivering nutrients to working muscles during workouts. Plus, pre-workouts with these ingredients can help you get a great pump. When you’re trying to lean out, these NO boosters can help you look super defined in your latest selfie – and who doesn’t want that?
The right pre-workout will likely contain creatine, nitric oxide boosters, and some stimulant to help you power through workouts. We all know it can be challenging when you are in a calorie deficit.
Tip 11: Eat Healthy Fats
Don’t fall into the trap of drastically reducing your fat intake to lose body fat! Fats are essential for maintaining cell structure and hormone levels, which are crucial to muscle-building. Plus, they help you stay satiated. Aim to get around 0.5 grams of fat per pound of body weight each day, and make sure to include different types of healthy fats for maximum benefit.
Do You Want to Burn Fat While Building Muscle
If you are trying to put some muscle on and get leaner simultaneously, the above tips can help! But one thing will benefit the most – getting your diet nailed down perfectly.
If you want additional help with diet and exercise, subscribe to our email newsletter or check out our other articles on these subjects!