Is Vader on the right track to lose fat and gain muscle? Let's find out!

There’s an argument within the health world that you could both select to lose fats OR acquire muscle.

That they only can’t be accomplished concurrently.

To this, I say, “Hogwash!”

Now we have tons of success tales from our on-line teaching purchasers who’ve been in a position to do each concurrently:

And that’s what we’ll cowl in at present’s information!

We’ll achieve this by discussing:

Plus, I’ve tons of candy LEGO photographs and foolish gifs on their approach, which is all the time an excellent time. 

What’s Physique Recomposition?

As Coach Matt mentions within the video above, gaining muscle and shedding fats concurrently known as “physique recomposition.”

So sure, the method is certainly attainable, so long as you comply with the suitable plan.

…however you don’t should take my phrase for it.

Simply ask our pal Aksel right here (who achieved a formidable physique recomp with the assist of a NF Coach):

A side-by-side of Aksel's before and after

Learn extra about his unimaginable story!

Nevertheless, as I discussed within the intro, you’ll typically hear that shedding fats whereas gaining muscle is not possible. The argument goes that you need to simply concentrate on one or the opposite, as a result of doing each directly is destined to fail.

Let’s discover this declare.

Shedding Fats and Gaining Muscle on the Identical Time (The Controversy)

This picture shows two LEGO miners, who don't have much to do with fast weight loss, but look cool.

To know why shedding fats whereas gaining muscle will be problematic, we have to discover each processes.

Let’s contemplate the next factors:

  • To lose fats, your physique must be in a caloric deficit. This deficit forces your physique to make use of pre-existing fats shops for gas.

  • To achieve muscle, your physique must be in a caloric surplus. This surplus supplies the vitality your physique requires to restore and construct greater muscle mass.

Given this, shedding fats (caloric deficit) on the similar time one is gaining muscle (caloric surplus) appears not possible.

Nevertheless, if we go a couple of steps deeper into the science, it IS attainable!

A foe from the Prince Bride not believing you can lose fat while gaining muscle.

To understand the nuance right here, let’s get into some specifics on shedding fats and gaining muscle individually, after which we’ll mix them.


a picture of Homer Simpson with Donut

There’s a easy reply and a barely much less easy reply in terms of shedding physique fats.

The easy reply: “devour fewer energy than you expend or burn.”[1]

Eight phrases, and one or two of these might most likely be thrown out.

When your physique wants extra energy than the quantity you’re consuming, you’re in a “caloric deficit.” Your physique doesn’t have the energy it wants as gas, so it’ll begin breaking down elements of itself for its vitality necessities.

(In the event you’re curious, you’ll be able to calculate your day by day caloric wants right here).

The hope is that your physique will principally pull from fats shops, although relying on how you’re coaching it would additionally break down muscle too.[2]

Mentioned once more: when you’re consuming a caloric deficit, your physique will pull from each its fats shops AND present muscle for vitality.

Yes, if you're not careful you can lose fat AND muscle while losing weight.

Troubling certainly.

From a physique and well being standpoint, clearly we’d want that your physique doesn’t break down muscle when in a caloric deficit, and as an alternative actually focuses on utilizing fats shops as an alternative.[3]

I make this level for a motive: your aim in health shouldn’t solely be “weight reduction,” regardless of the frequent vernacular used.

Who cares what the size says, proper?

A scale can be misleading when you're trying to lose fat and gain muscle.

The aim as an alternative is to cut back physique fats whereas additionally preserving the muscle you may have (and even constructing extra muscle).

That results in a greater physique and a more healthy physique.

This is the reason there’s a large marketplace for units that supposedly assess your physique fats share.

By decreasing your whole fats in your physique, OR rising muscle mass, you’ll find yourself with a decrease physique fats share (it’s only a easy ratio of fats to every thing else).

And decrease physique fats percentages are the place “toned arms” and “6-pack abs” hang around.

Arnold lost body fat and gained muscle to achieve his physique. And maybe some super glue.

We’ll talk about recommendations on preserving and rising your muscle whereas in a calorie deficit later on this information. For now, keep in mind you want fewer energy “in” in comparison with energy “out” for weight reduction to happen, from both fats shops or muscle.

You might be asking, “Steve, what’s simpler to do? Burn extra energy or devour much less?”

Good query.

Numbers will assist inform the story: although it is a gross oversimplification – let’s use the ‘broadly accepted’ start line of “3,500 energy equals roughly one pound of fats.”[4]

If you wish to lose one pound – or half a kilogram – of physique fats in every week (a worthy, sustainable aim for some), it is advisable create a caloric deficit of 500 energy per day. 

Your choices to create this caloric deficit embody:

  • Consuming 500 fewer energy
  • Burning 500 extra energy
  • A mix of the 2

Which is less complicated?

Listed here are each halves of that equation. 500 energy equals:

  • The variety of energy present in a Huge Gulp of Mountain Dew.
  • An estimate of the energy required to run 5 miles.

Yes, you will have to run for a long time to burn 500 calories.


In relation to sustaining a caloric deficit, it actually comes all the way down to weight-reduction plan.

It’s considerably simpler and time-efficient to devour 500 fewer energy than it’s to burn 500 extra energy.

As Time journal controversially identified – with tons of cited research – “train alone received’t make you skinny.” It’s too simple so as to add extra energy in, and requires an excessive amount of work to successfully affect “energy out.”

We dig into this in our information to The CICO Weight loss plan

This brings us to our barely much less easy reply on getting in form:

To lose physique fats, it is advisable watch what you eat, and achieve this in a sustainable approach.

Right here at Nerd Health, we’re agency believers that 80-90% of the fat-loss equation comes all the way down to weight-reduction plan (try Rule # 4).

Right here’s one other concept we concentrate on: EAT MOSTLY UNPROCESSED FOOD.[5]

These image shows some real food, critical if you're trying to lose body fat.

Meat, fish, eggs, greens, fruits, nuts are all nice examples.

These meals are very nutrient-dense and infrequently low in energy in comparison with their processed counterparts. Which implies you get stuffed up with out overeating.


Have you ever ever seen the distinction between 200 energy of broccoli and 200 energy of a bagel? WiseGEEK does an awesome job of displaying this, so we’ll borrow a few their photographs.

200 energy of broccoli:

A pic of 200 calories of broccoli

200 energy of a bagel:

This picture shows you 200 calories worth of a bagel, which is about 2/3 of one.

That’s why REAL meals is the reply to making a sustainable caloric deficit.

Most individuals can eat a whole bagel, no downside. Plates of broccoli, with all the fiber, are a lot more durable to overeat.

We lay all of it out in our Newbie’s Information to Wholesome Consuming. It’ll present recommendations on steadily create habits that get you to a “REAL meals” approach of consuming, together with correct portion sizes, recommendations on batch cooking, and a cameo from Winnie the Pooh.

Pooh knows that to lose fat and gain muscle, he really needs to cool it with all the honey.

With all of this, we advise you to take it gradual, so new habits of wholesome consuming turn into everlasting.

One thing you are able to do for the remainder of your life.

It’s a technique we work carefully with our teaching purchasers on: small dietary changes they really feel snug making. It’s how a few of them have been in a position to lose 50-100 kilos!

Let me clarify once more: what you eat shall be 80%-90% of the equation for shedding physique fats.

The opposite 10-20%? Train.

After all it’s train.

That’s a reasonably good segue into…


Toy Hulk and the wilds trunks of huge plants

If you wish to construct muscle, you’ll should carry heavy issues and be sure that your physique has sufficient energy and protein to adapt by constructing extra muscle.

In our Newbie’s Information to Constructing Muscle and Power, I summarize it as follows:

  • Raise heavy issues
  • Eat a weight-reduction plan primarily based in your objectives
  • Relaxation so your physique can get well

Let’s chat about each rapidly.

#1) Raise heavy issues

I’ll all the time be on Staff Power Coaching. In the event you’re seeking to construct muscle, you’re gonna must carry heavy issues.

This Muppet knows strength training will help him gain muscle and lose fat.

Whenever you carry an object (or your individual body weight) sufficient occasions, your muscle mass attain the purpose of failure. This causes your muscle mass to tear and breakdown.

When your muscle rebuilds itself following the exercise, it’ll be greater and stronger than earlier than. You then do it once more.

And once more.

And once more.

So long as you’re consuming sufficient to rebuild your muscle, you’ll get stronger!

Undecided the place to start out on a Power Coaching observe? No downside! You’ll be able to obtain our free information Power Coaching 101: Every little thing You Must Know whenever you be a part of the Riot (our free group) under:

#2) Eat a weight-reduction plan primarily based in your objectives

As a result of your muscle must be rebuilt after train, the energy are gonna want to return from someplace. I’ll speak so much about correct weight-reduction plan within the subsequent part (with a Harry Potter analogy), so I received’t spend an excessive amount of time on it right here.

Simply know that consuming the suitable amount of meals shall be an enormous a part of gaining muscle.  

#3) Relaxation

Your physique rebuilds itself when you sleep, so be sure you get loads of relaxation every night time. I’m speaking 7-8+ hours. It will assist guarantee your physique has the time it must develop stronger.

In the event you’re power coaching and solely getting 6 hours of sleep an evening or much less, you’re actually doing your self a disservice. Go to mattress!

Donald knows he has to get plenty of rest to grow muscle. If only that sink would stop dripping.

That’s the quick gist of construct power: problem your muscle mass, eat nicely, and get some relaxation.

Let’s slim in on our second level, “Eat a weight-reduction plan primarily based in your objectives.” It’ll turn into crucial when balancing each shedding physique fats and gaining muscle.

To do this correctly, seize your owl, and let’s chat about Hogwarts.

The best way to Lose Fats WHILE Gaining Muscle (The Science)

Close-up shot of microscope with metal lens at laboratory.

To reply the query of shedding physique fats and gaining muscle on the similar time, I’d prefer to introduce an analogy from the world of Harry Potter.

Recall the “Sorting Hat:” The Sorting Hat’s job was to find out which of the 4 homes children will name their house.

The sorting hat will help us tell the story on calories and losing fat.

It’s virtually like a visitors director: “Harry, you’ll go to Gryffindor! Draco, you’ll go to Slytherin!”

Your physique operates on a VERY related operation: day by day it receives new energy (whenever you eat), and it must resolve what to do with them!

For instance:

You eat a rooster parm sub with fries and a 20-ounce soda. Your physique then has to know the place to route all these energy.

To maintain issues easy, it has three selections. It’ll kind these energy into considered one of three homes:[6]

A. Burn for Gasoline.

B. Rebuild Muscle.

C. Retailer as Fats.

Proper now, whenever you eat meals, your physique types most of these energy into “Burn for Gasoline.”

There’s numerous energy your physique wants every day simply present: to maintain your liver functioning, your coronary heart pumping, your mind working, to manage your physique temperature, and so forth – it burns an excellent chunk of energy simply preserving the lights on.

A beating heart requires calories, which factors into your calorie needs.

That is your “Basal Metabolic Charge” which you’ll calculate for your self in our TDEE calculator.

There’s additionally “B. Rebuild as Muscle” and “C. Retailer as Fats,” which I devoted total sections to above.

That is the place the issues come up: Whenever you overeat energy and your physique doesn’t want anymore to gas itself, it takes these additional energy and shops them as fats.

Nevertheless, our aim is the OPPOSITE of this.

We wish to preserve the muscle we’ve (or develop it) whereas eliminating the fats!

So let’s think about a state of affairs the place we pull all this collectively by power coaching heavy AND decreasing our caloric consumption:

  1. You power prepare repeatedly, and your muscle mass break down and should be rebuilt.
  2. You don’t devour sufficient energy to each rebuild muscle and gas itself. There’s not sufficient to enter the “Burn for Gasoline” and “Rebuild Muscle” homes.

Does your physique simply shut down?


Yep, if you have fat on you your body will pull from it to take care of its needs.
Your physique has been making ready for this, by storing any extra energy over time within the “Retailer as Fats” home.

This implies your physique can pull from “Retailer as Fats” to verify all of the work nonetheless will get accomplished, together with your day by day features as a human and rebuilding the muscle you tore aside.

Mentioned one other approach:

When you’ve got fats shops (and all of us do), you do not want to be in a “caloric surplus” to rebuild muscle. The energy saved in your fats cells act as this required vitality.

There’s additionally proof that muscle may even be grown whereas in a caloric deficit.[7]

Which means greater muscle mass with a decrease belt measurement.[8]

This dog just found out it's possible to both lose fat AND gain muscle.

Nevertheless, if you wish to skip all of the experimentation and trial and error, you’ll be able to have a Nerd Health Coach do all of the heavy lifting for you (probably not, you’ll nonetheless must work out).


Superhero Couple. Male and female superheroes. Cloudy sky.

Let’s deliver this all collectively and create some actionable steps to shedding physique fats and constructing muscle on the similar time.

#1) Maintain a caloric deficit whereas consuming sufficient protein

You want your physique to burn extra energy than you devour, and in addition present your physique with sufficient protein to rebuild its muscle.

You’ll be able to solely lose fats in case you’re in a calorie deficit.

You need to reduce your calories and be in a deficit if your goal is to lose fat.

Bear in mind the Sorting Hat analogy:

In the event you’re consuming an excessive amount of, your extra energy are being despatched to the “Retailer as Fats” home.

We wish to pull from this home as an alternative. So eat lower than you burn persistently. 

To assist right here, I’ve 3 sources for you:

  1. Newbie’s Information to Wholesome Consuming. If you’d like suggestions and methods to create habits primarily based on REAL meals, that information will assist get you there.
  2. Figuring out the Good Weight loss plan for You.” I discuss the advantages of making a Psychological Mannequin on diet like Intermittent Fasting, Paleo or Keto (or Paleolithic Ketogenic) to assist navigate all of the meals selections it is advisable make.
  3. Depend energy: This implies studying your whole day by day vitality expenditure, and monitoring your different energy via an app (and/or weighing your meals).

You don’t should comply with some predetermined blueprint like “low-carb.” You’ll be able to create your individual weight-reduction plan (which is what I do). Study all about it proper right here.

#2) Power prepare

In the event you might promote a tablet that may very well be prescribed to each single individual on Earth to make them more healthy, it could look one thing like a power coaching routine in a bottle.

A one arm push-up can help you lose fat and build muscle, but maybe start with regular push-ups first.

It is without doubt one of the finest issues you are able to do to your physique.[9]   

And actually, in case you wish to construct muscle, you’re gonna must carry one thing! Both weights or your individual body weight.

It is advisable problem your muscle mass to ensure that them to get stronger. Now, as we talk about in our article on the appropriate variety of reps and units, there are a number of methods to take action.

To construct muscle:

Raise lighter weights for plenty of reps.

Raise actually heavy with fewer reps.

The essential factor: decide a technique and get began.

Vada is ready to strength train! And torment her Dad's GF.

Listed here are 3 paths ahead:

  1. Begin with a newbie body weight exercise.
  2. Comply with considered one of our 5 Newbie Power Coaching Routines.
  3. Undergo our 6 Degree Fitness center Exercises.

To recap: in case you prepare heavy and eat a caloric deficit, your physique will pull from its fats shops to each gas itself and doubtlessly additionally construct muscle. It is a double whammy of AWESOME.

#3) Prioritize protein

Outdoors of being in a caloric deficit and lifting weights (or your self), consuming sufficient protein is without doubt one of the key elements of each shedding physique fats and constructing muscle.

Protein is the primary nutrient for creating new tissue.[10]

Sponge Bob knows how to build muscle and strength.

So whenever you reduce out energy to create a caloric deficit, don’t reduce them from protein sources.

Research have proven that individuals can acquire muscle, even whereas in a caloric deficit, so long as they eat sufficient protein.[11]

It’s essential sufficient that I’ll say it once more:

In the event you don’t need your physique cannibalizing its muscle mass when you are in a caloric deficit, it is advisable eat loads of protein.[12]

How a lot protein?

As we level out in our Information to Protein, roughly 1 gram for each pound of your weight, with an higher restrict of 250 grams.[13] Or two grams for each kilogram if you’re on the metric system. This implies:

  • In the event you weigh 300 kilos (136 kg), eat 250g of protein.
  • In the event you weigh 250 kilos (113 kg), eat 250g of protein.
  • In the event you weigh 200 kilos (91 kg), eat 200g of protein.
  • In the event you weigh 180 kilos (82 kg), eat 180g of protein.

The gist: don’t skip out on protein. It must be in your plate for each meal (we’ll present you precisely how a lot within the subsequent part).

If these generalized suggestions stress you out, and also you wish to know precisely what to do, we might help!

I’ll remind you of Nerd Health Teaching, the place we assist purchasers lose physique fats, acquire muscle, and degree up their lives. We offer tailor-made and particular suggestions primarily based in your physique and life-style, plus accountability and mindset modifications to assist guarantee your new habits stick.

Nerd Fitness Coaching Banner


Toy Dinosaur holding a fork next to a slice of birthday cake on a blue background.

Bear in mind, your consuming technique wants to incorporate two factors to lose fats whereas gaining muscle:

  1. Maintain a caloric deficit.
  2. Prioritize protein so you’ll be able to construct muscle even whereas in a deficit.

You might be considering, “That’s all nicely and good Steve, however what’s that really appear to be?” 

It seems to be like this!

If your meal plate looks like this, you're doing great!

Taken from our Information to Begin Consuming Wholesome, which I really need you to learn.

The plate consists of the next: 

  • 1-2 servings of protein (¼ of plate)
  • 2 servings of greens (½ of plate)
  • 1 serving potatoes, rice, or pasta. (1/4th of plate)
  • 1 serving of fats (measurement of your thumb)
  • 1 zero calorie or low calorie beverage (water, weight-reduction plan soda, tea)

By sticking to our Wholesome Plate technique above, you’ll concentrate on “REAL meals,” which can allow you to preserve a caloric deficit over time.

Let’s hone in on protein for a second, as a result of it’s the essential piece for “constructing muscle.”

Protein can come from any variety of sources, together with:

  • Meat (steak, bison, pork).
  • Poultry (rooster, turkey, duck).
  • Eggs![14]
  • Fish and shellfish (salmon, tuna, shrimp).
  • Legumes (black beans, chickpeas).

Not a meat-eater? Learn our huge plant-based information!

A serving of protein is concerning the measurement and thickness of your palm.

A serving of protein should be about the size of your palm, like so.

*The 4 ozserving is for an raw piece of meat. Cooking reduces about 25% of the burden, bringing it all the way down to about 3 oz.

In the event you’re curious, right here’s how a lot protein is in a serving of meals:

  • 4 oz (113 g) serving of rooster has round 30 g of protein.
  • 4 oz (113 g) serving of salmon has 23 g of protein
  • 4 oz (113 g) of steak has 28 g of protein. 

Whereas all the Wholesome Plate above is essential, I would like you to pay additional consideration to your protein consumption since we try to construct muscle. 

In the event you’re having hassle making your protein consumption objectives, try our Information on Protein Dietary supplements for some suggestions and methods to up your consumption, together with some superior smoothie recipes.

That is the precise technique I adopted to lose 22 kilos and get to single-digit bodyfat share WHILE constructing muscle:

  • Raise tremendous heavy.
  • Eat LOTS of protein.
  • Cut back carb and fats consumption.

In case you are NOT losing a few pounds, it means you’re nonetheless consuming too many energy. Hold your protein consumption excessive, and scale back your fats and carbohydrate consumption. 

I cowl this in larger element in our “why can’t I drop a few pounds?” information.

Finally, you’ll attain a standing the place there simply isn’t sufficient fats on you to assist with “Rebuild Muscle.” At this stage, you’ll be able to now not stick with a caloric deficit. You’ll must flip to a slight “caloric surplus” to construct extra muscle.

Which implies you’ll should eat extra.

Like this turtle, you may reach a point where you have to eat more to gain muscle.

It’s debatable when it will truly happen, and we’re all completely different. Reaching 8% physique fats for males and 16% physique fats for ladies is an efficient place to start out.

I discuss this extensively in our information “The best way to Construct Muscle.”

It covers methods to extend your energy for muscle acquire, from consuming plentiful quantities of Paleo meals to consuming sufficient milk to make Santa Clause jealous.

Santa is drinking milk to put on some muscle. The cookies are just because he likes them.

Go test it out in case you’ve been having hassle placing on muscle.

I wish to stress that if you’re lifting heavy, and never gaining muscle, weight-reduction plan is probably going the offender.

It was my downside for years, and I’ve seen it amongst numerous readers of Nerd Health who’ve hassle gaining muscle.

If you’d like an professional who will inform you precisely when to eat kind of, try our 1-on-1 On-line Teaching Program

HOW TO TELL IF IT’S ALL WORKING (Persevering with to Lose Fats Whereas Gaining Muscle)

Now you're ready to start losing fat and gaining muscle!

In the event you’re making an attempt to enhance one thing, it’s essential to trace it. This additionally holds true of physique composition.

Most individuals do that by leaping on the size. This may be “okay,” however it’s solely going to inform a part of the story.

In the event you’re constructing muscle whereas shedding fats, the size won’t go down. You may even weigh extra!

Regardless of weighing extra, you might doubtlessly have a greater physique.

Don't just look at the scale. You might have lost bodyfat and gained muscle, but the scale won't show it!

That’s why along with leaping on the size, I might additionally encourage you to take progress photographs.

Take entrance and facet photographs in your mirror, sporting underwear or a showering swimsuit. Every week, take new photographs, and report the quantity on the size below the identical state of affairs. Two types of monitoring right here enable us to get the total image.

The size generally lies!

In the event you eat for a caloric deficit, power prepare, and prioritize protein, see what occurs.

You might end up shedding some fats and gaining muscle.

If not, observe every class:

Knowledge might help inform the story.

Data and numbers will help you know if you're losing fat and gaining muscle. Numbers, not the robot.

…I used to be considering of detailed notes.

However an android could be useful too.

Oftentimes in case you’re not seeing desired outcomes, notes and record-keeping might help level us within the route to make changes.

Check your assumptions if issues don’t look like on observe. Right here’s our Information on Monitoring Health Progress so that you can study extra.

The guidelines outlined above will get you began shedding fats whereas constructing muscle, however in case you’re seeking to go a bit additional…

#1) If you’d like step-by-step steering on drop a few pounds, eat higher, and get stronger, try our killer 1-on-1 teaching program:

#2) If you’d like a precise blueprint for getting in form, try NF Journey. Our enjoyable habit-building app helps you train extra regularly, eat more healthy, and degree up your life (actually).

Attempt your free trial proper right here:

#3) Enlist within the Riot! Now we have a free e-mail publication that we ship out twice per week, filled with suggestions and methods that will help you get wholesome, get robust, and have enjoyable doing so. 

I’ll additionally ship you tons of free guides that you need to use to start out leveling up your life too:

Alright, I believe that about does it for this information.

Did I miss something? Do you may have any suggestions and methods in terms of shedding physique fats and constructing muscle?

Share it with us!


PS: Ensure you learn the remainder of the articles in our “The best way to Lose Weight 101” Sequence!


All photograph sources are proper right here: Venting Off, Ekaterina Minaeva ©, czgur ©, morethanl8ve ©, Константин Колосов ©, Maxim Maksutov ©, Julianna Funk ©, leap

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