Many people, when getting into a workout routine, focus mostly on losing weight and gaining muscle at the same time. Google provides almost a million results to tell us this is doable. In fact, fitness pros consider this good thinking, as both can be done very nicely together.
To a point. We have to take goals into consideration.
Gaining Muscle and Losing Fat at the Same Time — Is It Even Possible?
Fitness progresses on a general continuum: Sick, Well, Fit, Sports-Specific. Each level has its own continuum, too, so you could say the progression has the potential to be infinite. The more focused you are on a particular sport, the more fine-tuned and specialized (and the higher the risk of injury) your training program has to be.
Most of us, however, are not focused on winning an Olympic medal or playing professional-level sports. Generally speaking, we want to optimize our functionality in daily life and look good in the process. Building a modest amount of muscle while getting rid of a chunk of fat is what most of us have in mind.
The most important point to remember is that gaining muscle and losing fat happen at different rates and differ by fitness levels. Generally speaking, we lose fat at a faster rate than we build muscle. People who are just beginning to work out will lose fat and gain muscle more quickly than those who have been at it for more than three or four months.
Many fitness publications exaggerate what is possible in the muscle gain/fat loss arena. We’ve all heard muscle weighs more than fat. Actually, muscle is more dense than fat. A pound of muscle takes up about half the space of a pound of fat. Muscle is also metabolically more active, i.e., it burns more calories than fat. Not a lot more active, but the difference adds up. Muscle is firm, too, so it doesn’t wobble, like fat.
For most of us, getting rid of the spare tire around our bellies and not having arms that jiggle when we wave is where we want to get to. We can accomplish this by doing a regular exercise routine that challenges us, but leaves enough energy to do what needs doing in the other parts of our lives.
Another point to bring up: your eating program matters. Quantity, quality, frequency, timing around workouts, percentages of carbohydrate, protein, and fat, stress level, drinking water, taking supplements – all have an effect on your progress, positive or negative, depending on what you do and how you do it.
Has your brain exploded yet? Or maybe it just feels as if it might. Don’t feel bad. A lot goes into the single goal of gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time. If you can, get help from a trustworthy fitness pro. If you can’t, learn as much as you can from a trustworthy source. In the final analysis, do something physical, no matter what that something is. You can make adjustments as you go.