Body Recomposition: Lose Fat and Gain Muscle at The Same Time
Do you want to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time? Have you been told that it’s impossible and that you should either focus on building muscle or burning fat? Well, the truth is you don’t have to only focus on one of these goals. Instead of the traditional “cutting” and “bulking” approaches to changing your body, you can focus on body recomposition and pursue both goals at the same time.
Many who want to build muscle will do a bulk for quite a few months in which they try to gain as much muscle as possible by lifting weights and training for hypertrophy (muscle building) and also eating in a calorie surplus to fuel the muscle growth.
While you will gain muscle with this approach, you will also gain fat, which is why there’s usually a cutting phase after the bulk to shed the fat and reveal the muscle you’ve built.
Maybe losing fat is your main priority and you think you should first focus on losing fat and then start worrying about building muscle when you’ve reached your ideal body fat percentage.
But there’s a better alternative: body recomposition.
What is Body Recomposition?
Body recomposition is the process of losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time. With this strategy, you don’t have to bulk up, gain too much fat, mess with your insulin levels and risk insulin resistance, and then be forced to go on a strict diet to lose the fat.
You don’t have to go on some strict, calorie-restricted diet and risk damaging your metabolism in the process.
Body recomposition is more of a long-term approach. It might take you a little longer to get reach certain goals, but the process will probably be a bit more enjoyable, it’s better for your health and hormones, and it’s more sustainable.
How Does Body Recomposition Work?
With a body recomposition strategy, you keep your calories around your maintenance intake and do hypertrophy training to build muscle.
If losing fat is your primary goal, you can set your calories slightly below maintenance calories if you want or slightly above if your main goal is building muscle. Since you are not eating a lot more calories than you burn in a day and you’re around maintenance calories, if your body does run out of fuel, it can burn some of your fat to help fuel your muscle growth.
You also need to make sure that you eat enough protein to fuel muscle growth (1g to 1.2g protein per pound of body weight).
That’s basically it.
What’s My Body Recomposition Strategy?
My body recomposition strategy is simple:
Eat at maintenance calories
Do weightlifting 6 times a week
Stick to an animal-based diet
Eat 1g protein or more per pound of body weight
Get more sleep to help my body recover and rebuild
Reduce my cardio for now and make hypertrophy training, Pilates and stretching my main forms of exercise. The logic is that even though cardio can help you burn more calories and lose fat, too much cardio can hinder muscle gain. Plus, your body adapts to the cardio you do, so you have to start doing more and more cardio as time goes on to keep losing fat. So, my strategy is to limit cardio now and then when I notice my progress stalling in the fat-loss side of body recomposition, I can add in a little cardio and then gradually increase how much I do as time goes on. If you do 30 minutes of cardio a day in the first week of your body recomposition journey, you might have to bump it up to an hour after your first month, and after that, an hour and a half, 2 hours, etc. Very few people want to do that much cardio in a day.
But if I limit my cardio in the beginning, I may only have to add a little bit of cardio and do 15 minutes of cardio a day in a few months to keep seeing the results and then from there slowly build up.
I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to get to my goals with this body recomposition strategy but it’s definitely easier than any other body transformation challenge I’ve attempted in the past. If you want to lose fat and gain muscle, a good body recomposition strategy will help you achieve your goals.
Saladino, P., 2020. The carnivore code. Houghton Mifflin.
Barakat, Christopher MS, ATC, CISSN1; Pearson, Jeremy MS1; Escalante, Guillermo DSc, MBA, ATC, CSCS, CISSN2; Campbell, Bill PhD, CSCS, FISSN3; De Souza, Eduardo O. PhD1 Body Recomposition: Can Trained Individuals Build Muscle and Lose Fat at the Same Time?, Strength and Conditioning Journal: October 2020 – Volume 42 – Issue 5 – p 7-21 doi: 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000584
Henselmans, M. (n.d.). The myth of 1 g/lb: Optimal protein intake for bodybuilders. Menno Henselmans. Available at: https://mennohenselmans.com/the-myth-of-1glb-optimal-protein-intake-for-bodybuilders/ [Accessed 2 Jul. 2022].