Can you lose fat and gain muscle at the same time?
What if we told you that you can burn fat and gain muscle mass at the same time? This sounds too good to be true! We like to call this body recomposition...Which is essentially the technique many bodybuilders use to increase lean muscle and decrease fat mass. It's easy to get caught up in the idea of either bulking or cutting for weight loss, but body recomposition allows you to keep your muscle mass and trim down the waist line.
Today's blog post unpacks body recomposition, the science behind it, and provides effective strategies on how to body recomp! Keep reading to learn more!
Body Recomposition: What is it?
You're probably reading this article because you're looking to lose fat and gain muscle, right? What if we told you that with the right approach to diet and exercise, this fitness and health goal of yours is achievable? Body recomposition not only allows you to work toward your ideal body composition, but also helps to maintain healthy body fat levels and BMI to reduce risks of weight-related disease.
Before we dive into what body recomposition is, let's take a look at the definition of body composition. Body composition is the scientific term referring to the amount of body fat, muscle mass, bone, and water in a person's body. Fat percentage and muscle mass are key components in assessing body composition. Assessing someone's body composition is a great way to get an idea of overall health status and body mass index (BMI).
Body recomposition, on the other hand, is the technique of improving body composition. As recomposition means "to form something again or in a different way," body recomposition essentially changes the makeup of your body through increased effort to lose body fat and gain lean muscle mass.
While many weight loss and diet plans focus on just losing body fat, body recomposition is a technical approach to do both: lose fat and gain muscle.
Body Recomposition vs. Fat Loss
A typical approach to fat loss is to decrease your daily calorie intake and increase exercise intensity. Otherwise known as a caloric deficit, this has been a proven way to effectively lose fat.
However, if you're training to increase muscle size and strength, this approach may be hindering your results as fat and muscle can be trimming down.
This is where body recomposition fits into the equation. Body recomposition allows you to lose fat while also ensuring that your muscle mass is increasing.
The Science Behind Body Recomposition:
Body recomposition may be a bit confusing as we know the common way to build muscle is by increasing calorie intake while losing fat is done through a caloric deficit.
When we think of being in a caloric surplus, the idea of fat loss is nonexistent. However, research suggests that body recomposition allows you to do both.
On the other hand, studiesshow that if calories are too low, it can lead to muscle loss and a slower metabolism (Benton, 2017). Modifications to specific dietary needs must be made in order to reach the goal of body recomposition.
Additionally, a diet high in protein can facilitate fat loss while supporting muscle growth (Mood & Koh, 2020).
Body recomposition is achieved by combining a healthy, high-protein diet with a fitness routine that supports muscle growth.
What Do The Studies Show?
Interestingly enough, body recomposition has been shown to be most effective for individuals new to weight training. An interestingstudycompared the effects of a moderate high protein diet and resistance training on untrained overweight police officers.
Three groups were assessed during the course of 12 weeks:
Group 1: Placebo group with 20% caloric deficit + no resistance training or assessed protein intake
Group 2: 20% caloric deficit + resistance training and intake of 1.5 grams of casein protein per kg of bodyweight
Group 3: 20% caloric deficit + resistance training and intake of 1.5 grams of whey protein per kg of bodyweight
Group 1: Body fat % decreased from 27% to 25% with no lean mass gain
Group 2: Body fat % decreased from 27%. to 18% with 8.7 lbs muscle gain
Group 3: Body fat % decreased from 27% to 23% with 4.4 lbs muscle gain
What does this mean?
A caloric deficit overtime will lead to fat loss; however, without the addition of resistance training and increased protein intake, muscle mass may not be increased. Keep scrolling to learn the 3 main components of body recomposition and how you can work towards your ideal body recomp!
Body Recomposition: Three Steps
Body Recomposition Step 1 : Diet
One of the most crucial steps in achieving proper body recomposition is to dial in on your nutrition. Why is this? The nutrition component of body recomposition is important because it alters your specific calorie and nutrient needs to support energy and muscle growth.
While there is no ideal ratio of macronutrients or set number of calories for body recomposition,research has shown that those who are active gym goers and maintain a healthy, high-protein diet are sought to have the best results while body recomping.
To put into perspective: A bodybuilder who has a lean build wanting to increase muscle size and decrease fat percentage will have different calorie needs than an overweight individual wanting to lose a significant amount of weight (Healthline, 2023).
A good rule of thumb to calculate your own body recomposition macros is by following the 40:30:30 approach. Aim for about 35-40% of your total calories from protein, 30-35% from carbohydrates, and the remaining 30-35% from fats.
An example of this would look like:
A 25 year old female who 2,000 calories per day to facilitate fat loss; Macros for body recomposition will be: 150–175 g carbohydrate/150–175 g protein/65–80 g fat. Note that these ranges of macronutrients give you some flexibility.
Diet strategies that support body recomposition:
Nutrient timing- consuming an adequate amount of protein frequently throughout the day has been tied to more efficiant muscle growth. Protein is the powerhouse macronutrient that aids in muscle protein synthesis (muscle growth & repair).
Increase protein intake - Consume at least 20 grams of lean protein with every meal.
Follow a 2:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein - ratio allows for increased protein intake and carbohydrates in your pre-workout & post-workout meals to support muscle growth and fat loss.
Reduce intake of added sugars - Excess amount of sugars is converted to fat for storage, thus keeping unwanted fat on your body.
Increase fibrous vegetable and fruit volume - Having a high fiber diet increases volume size of meals and keep you fuller and satisfied longer.
Body Recomposition Step 2 : Exercise
The second key component of body recomposition is exercise. Intensity, volume, and how often you train all play an important role in body recomposition.
While cardio exercise is the most common way to burn fat, incorporating resistance training is just as necessary to promote muscle growth while also burning fat. "As long as you are giving your muscles a new stimulus to adapt to, you will trigger new muscle growth," saysKatie Hoehn, RD.
Additionally, resistance training also serves as a way to burn calories. Strength training involves lifting weights, use of resistance bands, and/or any resistance exercise to build strength and muscle mass.
Experts recommend a training regimen of at least 2-3 days of resistance training per week with the combination of cardiovascular exercise for an ideal body recomposition routine. Interval training or HIIT may also be considered to incorporate as an effective strategy to burn fat through exercise.
Body Recomposition Step 3 : Supplementation
Although supplementation for body recomposition isn't all that necessary, supplements may be benefit in supporting muscle growth and fat loss. It's important to note that supplements are there to supplement and help fill in any nutritional gaps in your fitness and health journey.
Supplements that support body recomposition:
Since we know that protein is an essential dietary component for muscle growth and fat loss, protein powder supplements are an easy addition to your diet to increase your daily protein intake.
Additionally, creatine supplements are an effective way to increase muscle growth and improve recovery. This supports body recomposition by contributing to muscle growth and improving exercise performance for longer and more effective workouts.
Although fat burners may have a bad rep, they can be an effective supplement to support fat loss in your body recomposition journey. It's important to find a fat burner with research backed ingredients for the safest and most effective approach!
Multivitamins are beneficial in supporting micronutrient deficiencies you may have. If you are lacking certain micronutrients, you may be hindering your body's ability to lose fat and effort to gain muscle. Multivitamins allow you to get all in the micronutrients and vitamins essential for optimizing health and fitness performance (Syed, 2022). Luckily, there are a number to chose from!
We recommend our new AstroFlav Multivitamin as an effective solution for individuals looking to support their body recomposition progress along with general health!
The Bottom Line:
If you're looking to change your body composition to increase muscle mass and decrease fat percentage, body recomposition is going to be your best solution. Body recomposition is a diet and exercise technique that allows you to lose fat and gain muscle all in one process!
Body recomposition is done through diet, exercise, and many lifestyle approaches to achieve. Making sure you are eating adequate amounts of protein, incorporating strength training, and focusing on proper rest and recovery will optimize your gains and fat loss goals.
The addition of supplements to your diet can be a way to ensure adequate protein intake and help fill gaps in any micronutrient deficiencies you may have! Additionally, creatine supplements may serve as a way to increase muscle size and improve strength.
Remember, like any bulking or weight loss approach, it's important to stay consistent and patient. Once you stick to a solid routine with all the given strategies provided above, you are sure to achieve your goals of body recomposition in no time!
At AstroFlav, we want the best for our customers. It is our goal to help everyone achieve their fitness goals and steer them in the right direction with trust-worthy advice AND trust-worthy supplements!
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