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Can you get lean and build muscle at the same time? Some folks say no.
In reality, though, you absolutely can do both. It just takes some careful planning and a science-backed approach.
Read on to learn the steps you need to take to lean out and build muscle simultaneously.
Body Recomposition: The Basics
Your body composition describes your ratio of body fat to fat-free mass (bones, muscles, and water).
When the goal is body recomposition, folks work to change that ratio. Typically, the goal is to decrease body fat and increase muscle mass.
Benefits of Body Recomposition
There are lots of reasons to pursue body recomposition rather than just plain old weight loss. The following are some of the most noteworthy benefits this practice has to offer:
Better Metabolic Health
Body recomposition focuses on more than just losing weight. When done correctly, it helps you to lose fat and puts you in a better state of metabolic health.
If you’re only interested in seeing the number on the scale go down, you can do a lot of things to change your weight. You can slash calories in half, go on a juice cleanse, run on the treadmill for hours a day, do extended fasts, etc.
When you engage in these extreme practices, you will lose weight. You’ll probably also lose muscle mass, though.
The less muscle you have, the slower your metabolism will be. This, in turn, makes it harder for you to burn a sufficient amount of calories during your workouts. You’ll also be more likely to experience plateaus.
Less Scale Obsession
When you start to focus on body recomposition, you’ll quickly learn that the scale only tells a small piece of your body’s total health story.
During a period of body recomposition, many people notice that the number on the scale doesn’t change that much. In some cases, it can even go up. When this happens, it’s usually because you’re gaining muscle.
At the same time, you might notice that your body is shrinking and you’re looking leaner. You might lose inches around your waist, for example, or you might have more visible definition in your arms or abs.
This is a sign that the recomposition process is working, even if the scale says you’ve technically gained weight.
For most people, body recomposition is a more practical and sustainable approach to changing their bodies.
Eating a low-calorie diet and doing hours of cardio for months at a time is challenging, to say the least. It also, generally, doesn’t set you up for long-term health and fitness.
When you focus on body recomposition, you’re less likely to feel deprived. At the same time, you’ll still make progress toward your goals.
How to Get Lean and Build Muscle
You might be interested in giving body recomposition a try. You might also be wondering what you need to do to change your body composition.
Here are some tips to help you get lean and build muscle at the same time:
Eat in a Small Calorie Deficit
If you want to lose weight and body fat, you need to eat in a calorie deficit. This means you eat fewer calories than your body burns throughout the day.
Often, when folks go on a diet, they significantly reduce their calorie intake so they can lose weight as fast as possible. As we mentioned above, though, this has a negative effect on your metabolic health and increases your chances of hitting a plateau.
When you take this approach, you’ll see the number on the scale go down, but you’ll have to keep cutting calories to unhealthy levels if you want to maintain that decrease. You’ll also likely lose muscle mass.
When you’re focused on body recomposition, eat in a small calorie deficit. A good starting point might be to reduce your daily calorie intake by about 10 percent. If you typically eat 2,500 calories per day, you might drop down to 2,250 calories, for example.
You can always increase your calorie deficit a bit more if you aren’t seeing results. However, it’s generally better to start in a conservative place, rather than taking away too many calories too soon.
At the same time that you’re decreasing your daily calorie intake, make sure you’re also increasing the amount of protein you eat per day.
Protein is essential to muscle building and post-workout recovery. If you want to lean out without sacrificing your hard-earned muscle mass, you need to be extra-diligent about meeting your daily protein goal.
How much protein should you be eating per day?
For body recomposition, aim for about 0.8-1 grams (0.028-0.035 ounces) of protein per pound of body weight (or 1.6-2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight). If you weigh 180 pounds (80 kilograms), for example, eat between 144 and 180 grams (5.07-6.34 ounces) of protein each day.
If you have a hard time meeting your daily protein goal, try including a high-quality protein powder. Protein powder is great to keep on hand for a quick post-workout snack. It can also satisfy your sweet tooth so you have fewer cravings while eating in a calorie deficit.
In addition to eating enough protein, you also need to resistance train on a consistent basis if you’re trying to build muscle while getting lean.
Resistance training can be done with weights, resistance bands, or even just your body weight. Whichever approach you choose, make sure you’re progressively overloading your muscles.
Progressive overload involves gradually increasing the demand you place on your muscles during your workouts.
For example, you might slowly increase the amount of weight you’re lifting or the number of repetitions you perform of each exercise. You might also change the tempo of your exercises to increase time under tension, which also puts you in a good position to build muscle mass.
Cardio, specifically long periods of steady-state cardio (moving at the same speed), is not ideal for people who are interested in body recomposition. When you’re eating in a calorie deficit, excessive cardio can increase your chances of losing muscle mass.
This doesn’t mean you can’t still be active outside of your resistance training sessions. Going for walks is fine, and you can also practice high-intensity interval training (also known as HIIT) if you want to get your heart rate up without sacrificing muscle.
If your goal is body recomposition, supplementing with protein can help you to increase muscle mass while also losing body fat. For additional support, you can also use L-Carnitine.
L-Carnitine is an amino acid derivative. The body makes it naturally from two other amino acids: Lysine and Methionine.
Taking supplemental L-Carnitine can help you to have more energy during your workouts. This allows you to push yourself and get the most out of each training session.
L-Carnitine can also increase your body’s insulin sensitivity, which helps glucose get to your muscles faster after eating carbohydrates. The more insulin sensitive you are, the easier it is to avoid gaining weight and body fat, especially around your abdomen.
You can take L-Carnitine on its own, or you can use a protein powder, such as ProSupps Whey Isolate, that has it mixed in.
When you choose this option, you get all your body recomposition supplements at once. That way, you don’t have to worry about carrying a bunch of extra stuff with you to the gym each day.
Look Beyond the Scale
Finally, shift your mindset and focus on other signs of progress besides what the scale says.
Remember, it’s not uncommon for the number of the scale to go up when you start working toward body recomposition. If you’re only looking at the scale and not measuring progress in other ways, you’re probably going to get pretty frustrated.
Avoid weighing yourself super often if you find that the scale is causing a lot of emotional upheavals every time you step on it. You might even get rid of the scale altogether.
You can track progress in other ways, such as taking body measurements or taking note of how your clothes fit. These options are less emotionally charged for a lot of people, but they still help you to see if you’re moving in the right direction.
Get Strong and Shredded Today
Are you ready to get lean and build muscle at the same time? Are you eager to change your body composition and start working toward the body you’ve always wanted?
Follow the tips listed above and you’ll be well on your way to achieving these fitness goals.
Don’t forget to check out our new ProSupps Whey Isolate protein powder, too. It’ll help you meet your daily protein needs and provide you with an effective dose of L-Carnitine so you can lean out and get strong all at once.