Can I gain muscle and lose fat at the same time?

This week’s Hidden Gem Hint is one that is open to a lot of debate. For the longest time everyone thought it was impossible. The idea of calories in versus calories out meant you couldn’t build muscle (more calories in than you currently need) while lose fat (fewer calories in than you currently need).

However, we’ve finally realized our bodies aren’t a closed system (think a vacuum sealed box), they’re an open and adaptive system (think a forest). In a closed system the idea that your body will burn X number of calories and if you take in fewer than that number you use energy reserves (body fat). If you take in more calories than you burn you build energy reserves (body fat) and if you’re working out you’ll build new muscle (GAINZ!).

Luckily, our bodies are a million times more complex than that. Your body can prioritize building new muscle over storing fat. It can decide to burn fat while using that burned fat TO support building new muscle. It can do a lot of things we previously didn’t understand. Now, we could dive into the science (believe me, I’d love to go down that rabbit hole), but really it comes down to focusing on a concept I mentioned in a previous article: blue print and building blocks.

Exercise is the blue print for the body you want. The food you eat is the building materials for the body you’ll get. If your blue print is to build new muscle (resistance training such as gymnastics and weightlifting) but you lack the building materials to build new muscle you won’t get very far.

Instead of seeing the building materials as all being the same, we must look at each building material having a purpose. Think of boards versus pipes. We can’t use pipes very well to build walls and I’m pretty sure a sewage system made from wooden planks went out of style centuries ago.

To build new muscle you need two certain building materials in the right amounts: protein and carbohydrates. Protein is the stuff muscle is literally made from. When our bodies lack enough carbohydrates it becomes difficult to use the protein for it’s main job of being turned into new muscle: it’s becomes target to be turned into carbohydrate for energy.

How do you get enough of these two building blocks, have less calories come in, AND not sacrifice the delicious fat from your diet? The answer might surprise you. Let the body convert some protein to carbohydrate. Take enough extra protein in so that there’s enough left over for doing the thing protein is supposed to: build new muscle.

This is where the high protein diet idea comes into play. You ensure you always have enough of the right building materials to do the job you want to do.

How much is enough to do what we want it to do? Well a GREAT place to start is a 30/40/30 split. This is 30% of your calories will come from protein, 40% will come from carbohydrate, and 30% will come from fat. Combine this with doing high intensity weightlifting and conditioning workouts and you’ll see both a decrease in body fat and increase in muscle.

As I mentioned though, this is a great place to START. It will get you from where you are to a better place, however it’s like walking (gets you to where you want to go, but slowly). If you’re wanting to run or maybe even dead sprint to decreasing body fat and increasing muscle you’re going to want a VERY specific diet based on your body.

My advice would be to do a DNA test to figure out which building materials (macronutrients) are best for your goal, hire a professional Nutritionist to zero in the amounts for those building materials, and a expert Personal Trainer to ensure the blue print is flawless for your transformation. The picture in this post is me from February 2019 to June 2019. That’s the speed of transformation when you’re consistent and have professional support!

 

Always Helping,

Christoph

Hidden Gem CrossFit

 

P.S. If you’re wanting to do more than stroll to your goal, click HERE to schedule a free intro with one of our expert coaches or Precision Certified Nutritionists today!