Can you lose fat and gain muscle at the same time? In almost all cases, no, unfortuantely.
One of the biggest misconceptions out there today is that you can gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. We live in a culture where we want everything instantly and lack the patience to see results. Because of this, saying that you can gain muscle and lose fat catches a lot of attention and is commonly advocated as a result of people’s programs. Let’s be honest, having to constantly bulk and then cut takes a lot of time and patience. While gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time sounds super convenient, it has caused a whole lot of misconception to circulate through the health and fitness community at large, so I hope I can, in a friendly tone, set the record straight.
For most individuals, you can’t lose fat and gain muscle at the same time.
The cases that people do experience this is few and far between. The only two cases where you may experience this is if you are an absolute beginner, or you are at a higher weight and body fat percentage. But for most individuals at a relatively lean body fat percentage, it is simply not going to happen. So if this is true, what has caused all the confusion?
One main reason for the confusion is that when you lose fat, your muscles appear to become bigger. However this is not because you are gaining muscle and losing fat simultaneously, but rather because when you lose fat your muscles become more visible since the fat isn’t covering them. Your muscles will pop out more, but they won’t be growing while losing fat.
Another main source of confusion is that you can decrease your body fat percentage while gaining muscle. However, this is not the same as losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time. You can keep your body fat levels static by doing a slow and lean bulk. By doing this you will add muscle while keeping your body fat levels the same, so you are lowering the percentage of body fat not the actual amount of body fat. When you’re cutting to lose fat, you will be losing fat while keep your muscle the same. When you’re gaining muscle, you’re keeping your body fat levels the same while gaining muscle. In both instances, you can lower your body fat percentage. But again this is much different than saying you can lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously.
The last source of confusion is that many people pull the genetics card. They say it depends on your genetics. To that I can’t really test your genetics to give you an answer, but in almost every case the misconception has probably developed because of the previous two reasons I listed. It’s highly unlikely that you have freakish genetics that defies the norm.
Now why am I saying this?
I’m not saying this to be negative, but to rather to friendly correct some misconceptions that circulate in the health and fitness community. By recognizing that you can’t lose fat and gain muscle, my hope is that you won’t be disappointed if you feel as if you are struggling to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. Moreover, I hope that you don’t have to feel that you have to spend hours researching and coming up with a super fancy diet and workout plan to try to attain a goal that isn’t achievable.
To have success at your goals, there must be a healthy tension between challenging yourself, yet setting reasonable goals. So if your goal is to lose fat and gain muscle, don’t be discouraged if that takes time, it is a long process.