Most people can build muscle and lose fat at the same time. New research has discovered how to achieve body recomposition, to lose fat and build muscle simultaneously.
Body recomposition, also known as “recomp,” refers to the process of simultaneously losing body fat and gaining muscle mass. Unlike traditional approaches that focus solely on either fat loss or muscle gain, body recomposition aims to change body composition by reducing body fat percentage while increasing lean muscle mass.
The goal of body recomposition is to create a leaner, more toned physique, rather than solely focusing on a number on the scale. It involves a combination of resistance training, cardiovascular exercise, and proper nutrition to achieve the desired changes in body composition.
The information below was extracted from Jeremy Ethier’s expertise. He is a kinesiologist and fitness trainer, co-founder of Built With Science. His YouTube channel has over 4 million subscribers and he delivers clear information with sound background research.
See what he had to say about the new research discoveries on how to build muscle whilst losing fat.
New Research Discovers How to Build Muscle Whilst Losing Fat
By signalling your body to use its existing fat stores for energy while building muscle, you can achieve body recomposition. Let’s explore the three steps to a successful recomposition, starting with nutrition.
To stimulate fat loss, you’ll want to be in a calorie deficit, but not as aggressively as during a typical dieting phase. Research suggests a deficit of around 300 to 500 calories for optimal results. However, considering an optimized training plan, a slight deficit of about 200-300 calories may be more suitable to maximise the chances of successful recomposition.
Protein intake is crucial to counteract muscle loss. Aim for approximately 0.8 grams per pound of body weight, or consider increasing it to 1 gram per pound to ensure you’re providing enough protein for muscle growth and repair.
Pair your nutrition plan with a training program designed to stimulate muscle growth. Research indicates that both lighter and heavier weights can be effective, but the key factor is effort. Push your sets close to failure, stopping within three reps of reaching it. There isn’t a specific “special” body recomposition training plan; focus on doing the basics well. Additionally, prioritize sleep and aim for at least 7 hours per night to support recovery and progress.
Now, who is best suited for body recomposition and is it worth pursuing? Beginners, de-trained individuals, and those who’ve been “going through the motions” are the main groups that can benefit from recomposition. However, keep in mind that being too lean may hinder the process. Around 15% body fat for males and at least 22% for females are good starting points.
Consider your main goal and current circumstances. If you’re already lean or have been training consistently for a significant period, recomposition might be more challenging. Additionally, determine your priority—building muscle or losing fat. Research suggests that a surplus or lean bulk is likely superior for building muscle, while a slightly more aggressive deficit can lead to more fat loss with the possibility of gaining some muscle.
During recomposition, progress can be slower, and changes in body weight may not be indicative of progress. Instead, rely on other metrics such as progress photos, strength improvements, changes in clothing fit, and tracking waist circumference over time. Recomposition can be more challenging to navigate without proper guidance compared to traditional bulking or cutting methods.
In conclusion, proper nutrition and consistent, intense training are crucial for successful body recomposition. Focus on optimizing these factors, and you’re likely to achieve recomposition to some extent, regardless of the specific approach you choose.
See Ethier’s full explanation in the video below.
The process of body recomposition typically involves the following key components:
- Resistance Training: Engaging in regular strength training exercises helps stimulate muscle growth and development. It involves performing exercises using weights, resistance bands, or bodyweight to challenge and overload the muscles, leading to hypertrophy (muscle growth) over time.
- Caloric Balance: Body recomposition requires paying attention to calorie intake and expenditure. To lose body fat while gaining muscle, you generally need to maintain a slight caloric deficit (consuming fewer calories than you burn) while ensuring an adequate intake of nutrients to support muscle growth and recovery.
- Protein Intake: Sufficient protein consumption is crucial for muscle building and repair. A higher protein intake helps support muscle protein synthesis and can aid in preserving lean muscle mass during the fat-loss phase.
- Cardiovascular Exercise: Incorporating cardio exercises, such as running, cycling, or swimming, can help increase calorie expenditure and support overall fat loss. However, it’s important to balance cardiovascular exercise with resistance training to ensure muscle preservation and growth.
- Progressive Overload: To continue making progress during body recomposition, it’s essential to progressively increase the intensity, volume, or resistance of your workouts over time. This progressive overload principle challenges your muscles and stimulates further growth.
It’s important to note that body recomposition is a gradual process that requires consistency, patience, and individual adjustments based on your body’s response. It may not happen as quickly as solely focusing on fat loss or muscle gain, but it can lead to long-term changes in body composition, overall strength, and aesthetics. Consulting with a qualified fitness professional or nutritionist can provide personalized guidance to help you achieve your body recomposition goals safely and effectively.
Weight loss plateaus occur when a person’s weight loss progress slows down or stalls despite their continued efforts to lose weight. There are several reasons why this can happen:
- Metabolic adaptation: When you lose weight, your body adapts to the lower calorie intake and can start burning fewer calories at rest. This means that as you lose weight, your body requires fewer calories to maintain your new weight, which can cause your weight loss progress to slow down.
- Changes in physical activity: If you’ve been doing the same type and amount of exercise for a while, your body may become used to it and not burn as many calories as before. Additionally, you may experience fatigue or injury, which can cause you to decrease your physical activity level.
- Calorie intake: As you lose weight, you need fewer calories to maintain your weight. If you don’t adjust your calorie intake accordingly, you may start to consume too many calories, which can slow down or stall your weight loss progress.
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes, such as fluctuations in insulin levels, can affect weight loss progress. For example, insulin resistance can make it more difficult to lose weight, especially around the midsection.
- Psychological factors: Stress, lack of sleep, and other psychological factors can affect weight loss progress. Stress can increase levels of cortisol, which can promote fat storage, while lack of sleep can disrupt hormones that regulate appetite and metabolism.
To overcome weight loss plateaus, it’s important to reassess your diet, exercise routine, and lifestyle habits to identify areas where you can make adjustments. This can include increasing physical activity, adjusting calorie intake, and managing stress and sleep. Additionally, consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can provide personalized recommendations to help you reach your weight loss goals.