Building Muscle Today and losing fat are the twin goals of weight training and physical conditioning, but the body resists doing both at the same time. They are contradictory physiological processes. Your body has evolved to increase both fat and muscle in times of plenty and to lose both muscle and fat in times of scarcity when food availability is low.
How can you hold increase muscle while shedding loads of Fat Loss to get a nice-looking body with six-pack abs? Start with not falling for these 10 common mistakes of diet and exercise that will inhibit losing fat while gaining muscle.
Not Eating Enough
You can’t pack on muscle if you don’t create an anabolic environment, which means you must eat enough to maintain ideal body weight. It does not have to be huge amounts of protein.
Eating Too Much
Many people underestimate how much they eat, as shown In calorimetric scientific tests with doubly-labeled water. Very low-calorie diets are not necessary, but you do have to count calories at some level to cut your total energy intake to lose fat.
Not Fueling Before and After Exercise
When your body is fuel hungry, either during intense exercise or when your metabolism has been revved up for the few hours after you exercise and you have not eaten, unless you give it some fuel, your muscle may be broken apart into glucose by the hormone cortisol. The trick is to provide just enough carbohydrate to prevent cortisol performing this negative task, but not enough to cause your body to slip into positive energy balance (too much energy input).
A piece of toast and honey or a small sports drink or chocolate milk or equivalent, before and after exercise should provide the right amount of fuel.
Eating Too Many Refined Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates per se are not your enemy, but you do have to restrict consumption of foods that are enticing and easy to consume and snack on and have less than an ideal effect on your appetite. Biscuits, cakes, muffins, candies, puddings, potato chips and crisps, crackers, sugary drinks etc—these items need to be curtailed substantially.
Eating Too Much Fat of Any Kind
Nutritionally, you may know about good fats and bad fats, but to lose weight (fat weight) getting your fat intake between 20 and 30 percent is a useful approach. Fat has 9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram for carbohydrates and proteins, and it doesn’t matter what fat it is.
Eating Insufficient Protein
You don’t have to go crazy about this and consume protein drinks day in and day out, but replacing some of those refined carbohydrates and fat with a modest increase in protein should help maintain or enhance your muscle while you’re losing fat. Don’t make it all animal protein, though: dairy and vegetable protein are good options. And you still need to exercise those muscles.
Insufficient Weight Training
As you Burn Fat , the only way to protect that muscle and bone from going down with it is to place stimulatory stress on that muscle and bone. That means relatively intense weight training workouts at least three days each week.
Weight Training With Insufficient Intensity
You won’t gain much value from spending 50 minutes at the gym lifting light weights with a lot of repetitions. You need to lift relatively heavy (even if not to failure) for each set that you do. Ideally, this should be at leastaround 65 percent of your maximum lift possible. If you can squat 130 pounds (60 kilograms) maximum, then you should look at training with 85 pounds (38 kilos). If you don’t or cannot measure your maximums, then make sure the final repetition in any set is hard work to complete.
Eight to 12 repetitions and three to four sets for each exercise is a good basic program.
Not Doing Any Cardio
Aerobic exercise helps you burn off those calories. Steady-state cardio at a moderate pace, in conjunction with a good weights program, will get you in a good place for fat loss. If you do cardio for longer than about an hour you risk breaking down muscle for fuel, and you need to hang onto as much muscle as you can in this scenario.
Insufficient Precision and Application
This may seem obvious, but what we are attempting to achieve here is not trivial. For most successful weight losers, the net loss includes fat and muscle and often some bone as well. This is the result of catabolism, the breaking down of body tissue that defines weight loss. To achieve our muscle maintenance (or enhancement) and fat loss goals, you have to have a clearly documented program and goals, and you have to apply it with precision, which means taking the time to apply each step accurately, logging those steps in a diary and recording energy inputs and outputs in the form of food and physical activity.
A Word From Verywell
One last point concerns overtraining. Don’t be afraid to take a week off or reduce your training by 50 percent for one week if you feel your body is not coping with the volume and intensity. Cycling volume and rest may even be important for healthy muscle growth. Go to it.
Does Building Muscle Burn Fat, Burn Calories & Increase Metabolism?
How many times have you read an article about weight loss that contained a list of “fat burning tips” or any kind of advice aimed at helping you lose fat better, faster or easier?
And how many of those times did you come across the suggestion that weight training is super important, because it will allow you to build muscle… and building muscle will significantly help you burn more calories, increase your metabolism and burn fat faster?
You’ve heard it a million times, haven’t you?
The thing is, while this advice is based on truth, it’s mostly exaggerated bullshit.
Muscle Burns Fat? Kinda…
The theory goes a little something like this. The human body naturally burns more calories each day to maintain a pound of muscle than it does to maintain a pound of fat. Therefore, the more muscle you build, the more calories your body will naturally burn each day at rest.
Which means, just by building muscle, you’ll significantly increase your metabolism and turn your body into a calorie burning, fat melting machine… and this will obviously improve your overall fat loss progress.
Now, is any of that actually true? Technically speaking, it kinda is. For example:
- FACT:Your body really DOES burn more calories maintaining muscle than it does maintaining fat.
- FACT:This means that YES, the more muscle you build, the more calories your body will naturally burn each day on its own.
- FACT:Which means that building muscle DOES increase your metabolism.
- FACT:And this all means that building muscle definitely has the potential to help you lose fat.
With me so far? Good, because here’s where it all starts to get a little screwy.
You see, the problem with this theory/advice isn’t so much that it’s wrong but rather that it’s just highly exaggerated, way over-hyped (usually to sell some crappy product), and extremely insignificant in terms of the actual effect building muscle will have on helping you lose fat.
How Many Calories Does Muscle REALLY Burn?
To get to the root of the problem, you need to understand how many calories muscle actually burns. Depending on where you get your diet and fitness information from, you may come across the suggestion that 1 pound of muscle burns as much as 25, or 50, or even 100 additional calories per day.
If this were true, then building 5lbs of muscle would lead to as much as 500 extra calories being burned by your body per day, and this would indeed be a huge increase to your metabolism that would indeed have a significant positive effect on your ability to burn fat.
Unfortunately, muscle doesn’t burn anywhere near that amount of calories.
Instead, based on all the research I’ve seen, the actual numbers are more like this…
One pound of muscle burns approximately 5-6 calories per day at rest.
Wow… 5 or 6 whole calories?!?! I can feel my metabolism increasing as we speak!
This would mean that building 5lbs of muscle would lead to you burning an additional 25-30 calories per day. Building 10lbs of muscle would lead to a whopping 50-60 extra calories burned per day. You’d have to build the maximum amount of muscle that your body is capable of building in your entire lifetime before the amount of calories it burns gets even close to the crazy “significant” levels people incorrectly assume.
And in case you’re wondering, one pound of fat burns about 2 calories at rest. So yeah, muscle does burn more calories than fat… but not exactly enough for it to truly matter in the end. I mean, if you lost 5lbs of fat and gained 5lbs of muscle, your metabolism would increase by a whole 15-20 calories per day.
I think that deserves another sarcastic wow… “WOW!”
The Moral Of This Story
So, what’s the takeaway message here? It’s pretty simple.
While I will always recommend weight training during fat loss (primarily because it’s a requirement for maintaining muscle while losing fat), the idea that it’s helping you build muscle and this muscle is having a significant fat burning effect is mostly just exaggerated bullshit that is often:
- A) Repeated by people who don’t know what they’re talking about (like most fitness myths are).
- B) Used to help sell some junky product built mostly on hype and fancy marketing. (“Build Muscle And Turn Your Body Into A Fat Torching Furnace!”)
- C) Used to fill yet another generic list of “fat loss tips” written by some clueless person who’s just rewriting the same nonsense they stole from some other equally useless list of tips.
So, will building muscle help you burn fat? Potentially… a tiny bit. However, while every little bit helps, it’s unlikely it will ever make anywhere near enough of a difference to truly have a significant effect on your fat loss efforts.
Instead of trying to increase your metabolism, you’ll be better off trying to eat less total calories (or trying to increase activity to burn more of them). This will always have the legit significant fat burning effect you’re looking for.
Or, if you’re looking for a proven program that will allow you to lose fat as quickly and effectively as possible… WITHOUT losing muscle, or feeling hungry all the time, or giving up the foods you love, or doing tons of cardio, or following annoying diet rules, or experiencing excessive metabolic slowdown, or regaining any fat afterwards… you should check out my Superior Fat Loss program.
More Muscle Equals Lower Intramuscular Fat
In a previous article posted titled, “Weight Training Beats Cardio for Reducing Belly Fat in Older Adults”, researchers reported that when activity levels over a 12-year period was examined in older men, those who increased the amount of time spent in weight training by 20 minutes a day had less gain in their waistline (-0.67 cm) compared with men who similarly increased the amount of time they spent on moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise (-0.33 cm), and yard work or stair climbing (-0.16 cm). The researchers found that resistance training was associated with a lower waist circumference in a cohort of male health professionals with a mean age of 55 years. This means that weight training was associated with lower body fat compared to aerobic training.
New research published in the European Journal of Applied Physiologyhas reported that more muscle is associated with less intramuscular fat. So not only does resistance exercise lower fat in the abdominal area, but it also lowers fat in the skeletal muscle. We once thought that fat was just this empty slap of fat, but we now know that fat is very active. Once thought to be an inert storage depot for excess calories, important only to energy homeostasis, we now know that adipose tissue expresses and secretes a multitude of hormones and pro-inflammatory cytokines thereby acting in an autocrine, paracrine, and endocrine manner signaling the heart, musculoskeletal, central nervous, and metabolic systems. Skeletal muscles of older individuals have a larger amount of intramuscular adipose tissue than those of younger individuals. Intramuscular fat (or Intramuscular triglycerides) is located throughout skeletal muscle. If you have ever looked at a slap of beef and found that white marbling in between the red meat, that’s intramuscular fat. Furthermore, older adults with increased Intramuscular fat levels in their muscles are known to experience increased levels of muscle weakness, decreased mobility function, and are at increased risk of diabetes and insulin resistance. It is not understood how aging affects the intramuscular adipose tissue content of individual muscles of the thigh. Researchers examined the relationship between intramuscular adipose tissue content and skeletal muscle, biochemical blood profiles, and physical activity.
At the end of the study, intramuscular adipose tissue content in quadriceps, hamstrings, and adductor for the older group was significantly higher than in the younger group, but the interesting finding was that the more muscle a person had, the less intramuscular fat the person had in muscle.
Fifteen older and 15 younger men and women participated in this study. Magnetic resonance imaging of the right thigh was taken to measure intramuscular adipose tissue content and skeletal muscle for the legs and subcutaneous adipose tissue cross sectional area of the thigh. At the end of the study, intramuscular adipose tissue content in quadriceps, hamstrings, and adductor for the older group was significantly higher than in the younger group, but the interesting finding was that the more muscle a person had, the less intramuscular fat the person had in muscle. So basically, the older men had less muscle than the younger men. These results suggest that skeletal muscle size could be a major determinant of intramuscular adipose tissue content regardless of age.
Here is another study showing the benefits of resistance training for older adults. Increased intramuscular fat in older adults is associated with increased levels of muscle weakness, decreased mobility function, and are at increased risk of diabetes and insulin resistance. More muscle is associated with lower intramuscular fats, so the study points to the benefits of resistance exercise for lowering intramuscular fat.
Researchers at McMaster University have uncovered significant new evidence in the quest for the elusive goal of gaining muscle and losing fat, an oft-debated problem for those trying to manage their weight, control their calories and balance their protein consumption.
Scientists have found that it is possible to achieve both, and quickly, but it isn’t easy.
For the study, 40 young men underwent a month of hard exercise while cutting dietary energy they would normally require by 40 per cent of what they would normally require.
“It was a gruelling affair,” says Stuart Phillips, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster and senior investigator on the study. “These guys were in rough shape, but that was part of the plan. We wanted to see how quickly we could get them into shape: lose some fat, but still retain their muscle and improve their strength and fitness,” he says.
The researchers divided their subjects into two groups. Both groups went on a low calorie diet, one with higher levels of protein than the other. The higher-protein group experienced muscle gains — about 2.5 pounds — despite consuming insufficient energy, while the lower protein group did not add muscle.
The lower-protein group at least had the consolation of not losing muscle, which is a predictable outcome of cutting calories and not working out, say researchers.
“Exercise, particularly lifting weights, provides a signal for muscle to be retained even when you’re in a big calorie deficit,” says Phillips.
Researchers were intrigued because the high-protein group also lost more body fat.
“We expected the muscle retention” said Phillips, “but were a little surprised by the amount of additional fat loss in the higher protein consuming group.”
The results showed that the high-protein group lost about 10.5 pounds and the low protein group only eight pounds. All of the participants, by virtue of the demanding six-days-a-week exercise routines, got stronger, fitter, and generally were in much better shape.
However, researchers caution this regimen is not for everyone.
“We designed this program for overweight young men, although I’m sure it would work for young women too, to get fitter, stronger, and to lose weight fast. It’s a tough program and not something that’s sustainable or for those looking for quick and easy fix,” says Phillips. “We controlled their diets, we supervised the exercise, and we really kept these guys under our ‘scientific’ thumb for the four weeks the participants were in the study.”
Phillips and his team hope to conduct a follow-up study on women and also explore a different approach that he says will be “a little easier and much more sustainable.”
The study was published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
In obese middle-aged men, losing weight while dieting normally depletes both fat and muscle. But adding testosterone treatment may help them lose only fat and retain their muscle, new research suggests. The study results will be presented in a poster Saturday, April 2, at ENDO 2016, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society, in Boston.
Overall, 40 percent of obese men have a low testosterone. Weight loss due to calorie restriction is associated with increased circulating testosterone, and testosterone treatment reduces fat. However, researchers don’t know whether adding testosterone treatment to calorie restriction reduces fat mass more than calorie restriction alone.
“There is an epidemic of obesity and related functional hypogonadism, yet testosterone treatment remains controversial,” said principal investigator Mathis Grossmann, MD, PhD, FRACP, associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. “This study shows for the first time that, among obese men with lowered testosterone, testosterone treatment augmented the diet-induced loss of total and visceral fat mass and prevented the diet-induced loss of lean mass.”
Dr. Grossman and colleagues conducted a clinical trial of 100 fairly healthy obese men from the local community between 20 and 70 years of age who had low testosterone levels. Overall, 20 percent of them had diabetes and 10 percent had heart disease.
For the first 10 weeks, all participants were placed on a strict 600 kcal per day very-low calorie diet. They were also encouraged to abstain from alcohol and perform at least 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise. From the 11th through the 56th week, participants in both groups used a weight-maintenance diet based on the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Total Wellbeing Diet comprising of normal foods.
Every 10 weeks over the 56-week-long study, 49 men also received injections of 1,000mg of intramuscular testosterone undecanoate, and 51 took placebo.
At the end of 56 weeks, both groups lost roughly 11 kg (24.2 lb). But those in the testosterone group lost almost exclusively fat, while those on placebo lost both lean and fat. The men taking testosterone lost 3 kg (6.6 lb) more body fat than those on placebo and maintained their muscle mass, while those on placebo lost 3.5 kg (7.7 lb) of muscle mass.
Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council supported the study. Bayer Pharma AG provided testosterone, placebo and financial support but was not directly involved in the study.