Can You Gain Muscle and Lose Fat at the Same Time?

I've been asked this question a bunch of times, so I wanted to provide some not-too-complicated info for those of you who want to figure out if you can gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. 

If you've never thought about this as being a question, let's talk about the basic logic. 

  1. To lose fat, you need a calorie deficit.
  2. To gain muscle, you need a calorie surplus. 

It seems like from a dietary perspective, the two efforts would counteract one another. That's why so many people ask about it. 

Short Answer:

Yep. You sure can!

Long Answer:

While it is possible to do both simultaneously, for most people, it is not the most efficient way to lose fat or gain muscle. 

Have you ever heard of "beginner gains"? People who are new to working out gain muscle at a much more rapid pace than people who have been working out for a while. Same goes for individuals who have taken a substantial time off of working out. Both groups also lose fat faster.

For a period of time. 

So beginner fitties can gain muscle and lose fat at the same time, without getting too crazy about their food intake. While it's possible for regular gym rats to lose fat and gain muscle, both will be much slower. 

My Recommendation:

If you're new to the gym: Don't worry too much about this stuff right now. Eat real foods, lift heavy things, and break a sweat. 

If you're a regular gym goer who just wants to maintain: Don't worry too much about this. Keep doing what you're doing. 

If you're a regular gym goer who wants to lose fat: Pay extra attention to your food. You'll need to create a calorie deficit by increasing your HIIT cardio and being more mindful about what you're eating. Most people find that eating 40% protein 40% carbs and 20% fat is a good ratio for fat loss.

If you're a regular gym goer who wants to pack on muscle: You're going to want to eat more and do less cardio. Most people find that eating around 1.2-1.5g protein per lb of body weight and 1.5-2g carbs per lb of body weight work well for building muscle. I don't think fat should ever fall below 20%, so make sure you're still eating good fats like eggs, nuts, and oils. 

If you don't want to track macros/calories, that's okay too. Some people find tracking obsessive and constricting. I feel that way a lot of the time. I'd suggest tracking for a week or two so that you have a general understanding of calories/macro nutrients and then just guesstimating based on that experience from there.