Posted By Steve Howard Posted On

Is it possible to get rid of fat by building muscle?

Is it even possible to ‘recompose’ when you gain muscle tissue and reduce fat at the same time? The short answer is yes, a little longer is difficult, but it is possible. Although the vast majority of those who try fail, ultimately achieving neither.
(Note to Zojnic – if you’re still convinced that you can’t build muscle and burn fat at the same time, check out the science.)

So – before I give out instructions on hypertrophic drying (or ohudite weight-building) – I’ll outline the basic causes of failure. If you avoid these mistakes, you’ll greatly increase your chances of success.

1. Excessive calorie deficit

In an effort to get rid of pesky fat as quickly as possible, we cut calories too much. It is impossible to build muscle on this, it is easier to lose it.
The bigger the deficit, the more cortisol you produce and the worse you do with mTOR (a signalling pathway that regulates muscle gain), IGF-1 (a growth hormone mediator) and insulin, which gives an optimal physiological profile for stagnating muscle mass gain.
Calorie intake is of course different for everyone, but you definitely shouldn’t lose more than half a kilo a week, otherwise muscle hypertrophy is out of the question.

2. Constant lack of energy

Constant energy deprivation causes a number of metabolic adaptations that make it difficult to lose fat and build muscle. Calories will need to be cut more and more – until you get to point 1.

Yes, you can lose up to 0.5kg per week, but you don’t have to starve yourself for seven days straight to do so. It’s the cumulative weekly deficit that decides, so there can be, for example, five days of small malnutrition and a couple of days of small surpluses.

3. low carbohydrate diets

Low-carb diets certainly help you lose weight, although it’s the total calorie deficit that decides, again. The fact is that low-carb diets are easier to plan, not to mention that some people love all sorts of dieting extremes.

For recomposition, however, a low-carb diet is a fiasco. Even in a calorie surplus, a low carb diet makes hypertrophy difficult. It negatively affects mTor, IGF-1 and insulin, and increases cortisol levels, one function of which is to maintain blood sugar levels along with glucagon.

4. Excessive volume

Many ‘recomposers’ seek to increase training volume in the belief that this will help both gain muscle and consume more calories. Yes, it can work… for about two to three weeks, until you hit full stasis.

Excessive rebounds and repetitions will only stimulate cortisol production (already elevated on a deficit), which makes it harder to gain muscle and can cause a number of other negative effects, such as decreased levels of thyroid hormone T3 (which worsens metabolism).

In addition, you may simply overdo it, accumulating so much muscle damage that the body’s repairing capabilities of dieting are insufficient.

5. Lack of rest days

As you can see, extremes most often lead to failure: too few calories and/or carbohydrates, a severe deficit on an ongoing basis, and an excessive workout volume. It’s the same with rest days – that is, lack of them.

It’s most likely due to a lack of strategic thinking: people think a day out of the gym is a missed opportunity to improve their muscles. And I, of course, understand that. But you also understand: such attempts to speed up the process actually slow it down.

In fact, a day away from the gym is an opportunity to reduce cortisol and adrenaline levels, replenish glycogen stores and spend more energy on recovery and muscle building. Rest days = growth days.

6. Inadequate frequency of work on a muscle group

Each time you train a muscle group, you activate mTOR, increase protein synthesis and improve insulin sensitivity in that muscle group, which promotes an anabolic response. When the anabolic response is higher than the catabolic response (e.g. cortisol), the muscle grows.

But if you exercise a muscle group only once a week, the anabolic processes are triggered for about 36 hours. And for the remaining 132 hours, the muscle in question is under the influence of catabolic factors. This makes it much harder to gain (or even maintain) muscle mass while dieting.

If you exercise the muscle twice a week, the anabolic period is extended to 72 hours. If you train it three times, it’s already 96 hours.

7. Avoiding running (and other low-intensity cardio)

Many jocks don’t like cardio. However, if you control the volume and choose cardio exercises that do not raise cortisol levels, they help with recomposition.

For one thing, they allow you to eat a little more, which is an extremely useful property on a diet. If, say, you spend 200 calories on cardio four times a week, you can eat 150-200 calories more on these days. The result will be the same as if you were not doing cardio and eating the same amount.


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