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Gain Muscle and Lose Fat: Can You Accomplish Both Simultaneously?
Who doesn’t want to get jacked and shredded? But the age-old question always seems to be, can you gain muscle and lose fat at the same time? Why not? Gain muscle and lose fat FTW! It can be done said all the old school bro-science magazines! See any of them around anymore? Nope. IIFYM has been bombarded with this question. So honestly, can you gain muscle and lost fat simultaneously? The short answer is yes and no. Ha! Wait, what? You didn’t think it was a simple yes or no answer did you? The long answer of can you gain muscle and lose fat is to be explained below in this article.
It’s indeed possible to gain muscle and lose fat, but the answer comes down to what your ultimate goal is and the results you are looking to achieve in a certain time frame. Your results will also vary depending on your body type so you need to establish blueprints that match your body to achieve the results you desire. Assuming you and I are the same height and weight, we can train and eat exactly alike using IIFYM, but our results can differ drastically. There is no one right way to achieve success since each individual is different.
What’s Your Body Type?
Below is a brief description of what body types are out there. Read each carefully to figure out which category you fit into.
Thin in appearance without much muscle mass on the frame. They find it difficult to store fat as well as gain lean muscle mass. Generally, they have extremely high metabolisms and seem to be able to eat anything they want without the fear of gaining weight. Their body fat percentage is naturally very low.
This body type is the complete opposite of the ectomorph. Endomorphs easily accumulate and store fat and are much heavier around the midsection and thighs. While they can put on muscle very easily, the same goes for body fat. Generally, this body type is associated with a “pear shape” appearance. Overall their metabolism is slow and therefore they need to pay attention to the food they eat and make a conscious effort to exercise.
A body type we all wish we would have is the mesomorph. Naturally, this body type has a more muscular appearance with a broader chest and wider shoulders. With the addition of low body fat, a tiny waist, this body type gives off an amazingly natural v-taper. It’s very easy for mesomorphs to put on muscle and keep bodyfat at bay. In general, mesomorphs are naturally strong as well. When you think of what a mesomorph would look like, think along the lines of a bodybuilder.
By a show of hands from the IIFYM readership, how many of you desire putting on more muscle mass? That was easy, I don’t see anyone with their hand down. So how do you achieve this feat? It all starts and ends with your nutrition as well as your training. There’s no magic pill unless you decide to go the route of steroids (which I don’t recommend). Sure, you can go the route of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) depending on your age and natural testosterone levels, but generally, that will only come into play as you age and your natural testosterone production is on the decline—we’ll touch on this more in a minute. Testosterone replacement therapy is also something that is done and controlled under the watchful eye of a doctor, so you simply can’t “self-diagnose” and administer.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Let’s get this out of the way since everyone wants the “quick-fix” to gain muscle and lose fat. As we (men) age, our natural testosterone production begins to decline—this generally starts to happen and is most noticeable around the age of 30. This scenario from a medical standpoint is called andropause. Simply put, it is when the testes slow down or stop producing testosterone. Those days when we were teenagers and were able to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time are gone. However, through science, it is now possible to gain muscle and lose fat thanks to TRT. While I don’t condone you simply going to your doctor and explaining that you would like to use TRT as a simple way to gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously, if you truly need it due to low test then I’d say give it a try.
Common symptoms of a dip in testosterone levels are: insomnia, decreased muscle mass, an increase in body fat, loss of libido, fatigue or depression, and a decrease in bone density to name a few. So how is this condition taken under control? It’s quite simple, you would go to your doctor and get blood work done (generally one of the symptoms above such as insomnia, loss of libido, or fatigue will tip you off that you need to head to the doctors and figure out what’s going on).
If the results come back that you have low testosterone, they will generally recommend a form of TRT. Normal testosterone levels for men are between 400 and 1,200 ng/dl (nanograms per deciliter). Normally, if the number is under 400 is when they will recommend TRT.
How this is administered is generally through injections (consistent and regular) or through time-released capsules inserted under the skin at the buttocks (depending on the dose and how many, this can be once every few months). These procedures will then help reverse the negative side effects mentioned above and will leave you feeling more energized, in a better mood, have increased libido once again, may allow you to gain muscle and lose fat, and may allow you to get better sleep once again.
IIFYM is no stranger to the nutrition side of the equation. And if we were able to get a penny for everyone that asked if IIFYM has any plans that allows the individual to gain muscle and lose fat, we’d be rich. That being said, if you want more sound advice, click on the several articles on the IIFYM website as well as checking out the IIFYM programs they have available.
Starting with the Custom Macro Blueprint, where one of our knowledgeable coaches will build a body changing program
The great thing about following IIFYM is that you don’t necessarily have to deprive yourself of all the foods you enjoy. IIFYM allows you the flexibility to live life and not feel like you’re eating out of an IIFYM Tupperware container (even though I’d totally rock an IIFYM container). You have freedom! And that’s the IIFYM way of living!
If you want to look like a beast you need to eat as a beast would. Don’t take this the wrong way, though, especially if you’re using IIFYM as a dieting style. This isn’t a free ticket to hit up every buffet within a twenty-mile radius of your house. In fact, you still need to keep your IIFYM diet in check as if you were cutting, your calories and macronutrients will just be adjusted. Check your body type mentioned above to see how you should ideally set up your IIFYM nutrition program.
The Starting Point
If you aren’t sure where to start, IIFYM has some great nutrition plans laid out where if you follow the blueprint, you will find your goals aren’t that far out of reach. In addition, IIFYM has a great recipe book where you can find all kinds of tasty recipes that will make you think you’re cheating on your diet when you’re actually on point.
When looking to bulk you do not want to just eat everything in sight, otherwise, you will spend a lot of time cutting after your bulk—and I don’t know many people who get excited to do extra cardio to trim off added fat from a dirty bulking phase.
While you can “cheat” a little on your diet and not be as strict as when you’re truly trying to drop your body fat as low as possible, you don’t want to get too carried away. A piece of cake or some ice cream here and there won’t kill you, just pay attention to your serving size to make sure you’re within the IIFYM program you’re following.
Ideally, what you want to do is calculate what your maintenance intake needs to be (TDEE) and then add 500 calories per day to that maintenance number (unless otherwise stated to fit your body type above).
Below are 2 calculators to help you figure out your numbers:
1. Calculate Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) using the IIFYM BMR Calculator
2. Calculate Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) using the IIFYM TDEE Calculator
These calculators will help you figure out your maintenance calories—your starting point. It’s impossible to tell you exactly in this article where your macros need to be since everyone has a different metabolism and way of storing and utilizing calories. It’s for this reason that cookie cutter diets don’t work. No two people are alike. If there was a one-size fit all method, everyone could get in amazing shape, but unfortunately, that’s part of this process where you need to learn and understand what works for you and your body.
If you want a professional IIFYM coach to guide you, check out our very affordable nutrition programs, you can find them by clicking this link: IIFYM Programs
(And no, there’s not a program to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time found in the link, I’ll save you from checking)
Due to their body type, they will require a higher than normal caloric intake to make any noticeable muscle size gains (normally anywhere from 750-1,000 calories over their IIFYM maintenance each day). A high carbohydrate and moderate protein diet are ideal for the ectomorph (something like a 50/30/20 ratio of carbs/protein/fat).
In order for endomorphs to lose weight, their diet needs to be lower in carbohydrates while higher in fats. Healthy fats will help them drop body fat while the protein will help keep their lean muscle to continue burning calories throughout the day. In general, endomorphs should follow an IIFYM diet with a ratio of 25/35/40 (carbs/protein/fat). They should also strive to lower their IIFYM caloric intake 250-500 calories per day from their maintenance in order to help shed off some of the unwanted fat and allow their body to adjust and utilize the calories versus storing them.
Mesomorphs can do extremely well with an IIFYM diet that is 500 calories per day over their IIFYM maintenance. This will allow them enough calories to stay lean, yet allow them to continually add quality muscle mass to their frame. A ratio of 40/30/30 (carbs/protein/fat) seems to be ideal for mesomorphs.
Training, no matter what body type you are, should be intense in order to gain muscle and lose fat (whichever goal you are after). Hitting the working muscles hard and then giving them the proper time to rest and recover is ideal. By combining proper nutrition already mentioned in this article, it’s hard not to see progress when you put all the puzzle pieces together. If you find you’re not getting the results you desire and you know you’re putting in the effort in the gym, then go back and take a closer look at your diet. But ultimately, if you are trying to gain muscle and lose fat you are setting yourself up for failure.
Find out which body composition goal you should focus on with our Custom Macro Blueprint
It’s also recommended that you hit each muscle group twice each week in order to see hypertrophy—muscle growth. In the past “bro-science” had splits where you were hitting each muscle group once per week but science has since debunked that and has shown hitting muscles two times per week to be the most beneficial for putting on lean muscle mass.
No matter if you want to put on lean muscle mass or drop body fat, your weight training should not change. The best way to preserve muscle is the same way how to build it. The only thing that should change dependent on your goal is your nutrition and cardio. If you want to put on size, lower your cardio and have a caloric surplus. If you want to cut body fat, increase your cardio and create a caloric deficit. It honestly breaks down to being as simple as that.
Ectomorphs should also try to keep their cardio to a minimum due to the high amount of calories they burn naturally. HIIT (high-intensity interval training) seems to be best for this body type. Resistance training should revolve around compound movements using a heavy weight. The rep range should be anywhere from 5-10 reps.
HIIT is a great way for endomorphs to burn fat. They should also focus on lifting heavy, keeping their rest periods as short as possible to keep their heart rate up, and staying around 15 reps per exercise. Compound exercises are also ideal for this body type.
A mixture of cardio and weight training suits this body type best. The cardio allows them to maintain their leanness while the weight training puts on the size. Three days of cardio per week of around 30 minutes seems to be the sweet spot. Mesomorphs can use heavy weights in the gym with rep ranges between 8-12 and see results very quickly.
It’s no secret that you can’t out-train a poor diet, just like you can’t gain muscle and lose fat at the same time efficiently while cutting (or bulking for that matter). In fact, IIFYM has been preaching this for quite some time now. Losing fat comes from hard work and dedication in the kitchen. Sure, you can increase your cardio, but what you put into your mouth will ultimately make or break your physique and progress.
This is where dialing in your macros comes into play, one of our coaches will build your ultimate guide to fat loss with a Custom Macro Blueprint
Choosing high quality, nutrient dense foods should be of utmost importance to you when it comes to hitting your goals. Complex carbohydrates, high-quality protein sources, and healthy fats should make up your diet no matter what your body type. Stay away from the simple carbohydrate sources unless you are including them in your post workout shake/nutrition.
Your body could fight you a little and not want to give up its fat stores. This is the toughest part and a part where most new exercisers throw in the towel. It could take anywhere from a couple days to several months before your body begins to make changes. Don’t give up.
So Can You Gain Muscle and Lose Fat Simultaneously?
Here’s what you’ve all been waiting for—can you truly gain muscle and lose fat at the same time? Through proper training and nutrition, it is possible to gain muscle and lose fat. Is this optimal? Heck no. Unless you are a true mesomorph (which few people are) it’s extremely difficult to efficiently gain muscle and lose fat.
To gain lean mass you need a caloric surplus. To lose body fat efficiently you need a caloric deficit. See where I’m going with this? You can’t gain muscle and lose fat at the same time efficiently.
You can’t have your cake and eat it too. The body doesn’t work this way. The body needs fuel to build lean mass, if you’re taking in fewer calories than what is needed through TDEE to lose fat, it’s darn near impossible to maximize your muscle gaining potential.
The ultimate goal here isn’t to go from zero to one hundred real quick (as Drake says). It’s not a race. Whichever way you are swaying—bulking or cutting—you need to slowly implement things in a way that you don’t go to one extreme or the other. If you cut calories too much and increase cardio you risk losing some hard-earned muscle mass. If you try to bulk too quickly and increase your calories without maintaining a little cardio, you’ll end up looking like a blowfish. It’s about consistency. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Focus On One Composition Change
Choose the path you want to take and stick with it. Getting cut and jacked at the same time is exceptionally difficult unless you have amazing genetics or “science” comes into play. When putting on lean muscle mass it is normal to add a little bit of body fat, so don’t get discouraged. And just the opposite, when you are cutting, some individuals will tend to lose some muscle mass (whether it be true muscle or just some water retention).
Don’t get frustrated. Stick to the plan and the results will come. So let’s put this inefficient style of training and dieting to rest. It doesn’t make sense to attempt to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. Prioritize your goals and focus on one aspect at a time.
If you need help finding the right tools to reach your goals, IIFYM can help. The coaches at IIFYM can set you up with an amazing nutrition plan.