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Body recomposition: building muscle, while losing fat

by Freya 5 minutes read

Last updated: 11 Jul, 2022

If you could lose fat and build muscle at the same time, why wouldn't you! Body recomposition is a great way to do this.

Chances are, if you are wanting to lose weight you are also wanting to look lean and have a toned body, typical weight loss diets will aim to lose just fat and lower the number on the scale rather than gaining muscle.

Body recomposition allows you to do both, when followed correctly.

Not only does it allow you to lose fat, it will encourage strength and you will burn more calories throughout the day.

Body recomposition is the process of enhancing your body composition.

The aim is to increase the proportion of lean body mass (LBM) to fat mass. LBM is the weight of your body minus the fat mass. In other words, fat-free mass (FFM) is the same as LBM. For body recomposition, the goal is to increase FFM, which will result in being leaner and more muscular.

Although you in-theory can't build muscle and lose body fat at the same time, body recomposition is doable with deliberate calorie cycling and regular exercise.

It can take around 8-12 weeks for you to notice your results, this is a good way of indicating your success rather than the number on the scales.

How does it work?

Body recomposition is more of a lifestyle change rather than a diet, meaning it is sustainable and effective.

There is no difference in how males and females can achieve body recomposition; it is simply a matter of finding the right diet and workout regimen.

The idea of body recomposition is to stay away from the scales, and focus on circumference measurements and if possible, measure your body fat percentage.

The most important factor for body recomposition is your diet, of course you will need to have an effective training program, but without a constructive diet, this will slow the process down and you may not meet your goals.

Like most diets, including intermittent fasting, or carb backloading, you will eat less on days that you do not workout compared to rest days, and this is the same as body recomposition, this is called “cycling”.

How does calorie cycling work?

When you are not strength training, your calorie intake will need to be lower, along with your carbohydrate intake.

The main reason for this is to use and recover energy more efficiently. In other words, you need to take in more energy on days when you expend more energy.

To figure out how many calories for both rest days and strength training days manually, you will need to figure out your maintenance calories.

Once you know your maintenance calories, on strength training days you will increase this by 15% and on rest days you will decrease it by 20%.

Or you can use a body recomposition calculator, such as this one.

It can also be helpful to workout your macros (your fat, carbohydrates, and protein intake), then on days that you are muscle building you will need to eat more carbohydrates compared to a rest day. You can use this macro calculator to work out what you need to be eating.

Losing fat

To lose fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit, i.e. you need to eat less calories than you are expending energy.

You need to eat a lot of protein, as it encourages fat loss while preserving lean body mass.

You can also speed up the fat loss process by cutting out processed foods. If you can eat more natural foods that are high in protein, you are likely to see results faster.

It can also be helpful to include more fibre in your diet, for example vegetables are high in fibre. You are likely to feel fuller for longer and it will help decrease your body fat percentage, especially the one area that is the hardest, the stomach.

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Building muscle

When it comes to muscle growth, both your diet and exercise regime are important.

Studies have shown it is important that you have a high protein diet when trying to build muscle, you should also be choosing whole foods that include healthy fats and complex carbohydrates.

One study review found that, on average, participants who supplemented with 35 grams of protein per day saw greater gains in lean body mass than those who only consumed 0.64 grams of protein per pound (1.4 g/kg) of body weight per day.

Resistance training is also crucial when building muscle, this includes lifting weights.

Studies have shown that one to two days per week of interval training, alongside two to three days per week of strength training exercises such as squats, lifting weights, crunches, etc. may be the most effective way of building muscle.

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Body recomposition can not only benefit the way you look and feel, but it can decrease your risk of chronic disease and boost your metabolism, making it an effective and positive way to live.

Tip: Remember to get your protein intake in and your 3 days of strength training, these are important to see results.

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