How Do I Lose Fat and Gain Muscle?

Strength training helps build muscle.
A person can increase muscle mass by eating a proper diet and working the muscles.
Article Details
  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2014
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There are many theories on how to lose fat and gain muscle, and one of these is that the two goals really don’t work together. Either people can lose fat weight, and usually some muscle weight at the same time, or they can gain muscle weight. Trying to do both may be possible for some people, but it could take strict attention to diet and exercise goals at the same time.

A few things will be needed to attempt to lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously. These include eating a balanced diet that is higher in protein. This doesn’t mean that carbohydrates and especially dietary fiber sources from complex carbs should be eliminated, but it does mean eating at least 30% protein from the day’s food intake. Some nutritionists suggest a balance of 30% fat, 30% protein and 40% carbs that are mostly complex.

Lowering calories too drastically tends to take off muscle, so calorie intake should be appropriate to present weight. Exercise is important too — people may want to combine cardiovascular exercise with muscle building exercises like strength training. Some forms of exercise combine both, but often what is suggested is alternating days of strength training and cardiovascular training.


Chances are, even with diet and an alternating exercise program, most people will not lose fat and gain muscle. Yet in losing fat, muscles, especially developed lean muscles, may become slightly more prominent. The less fat on the body, the more muscles show. If muscle deterioration seems very evident and people would like to focus on building muscles instead, they might want to remain on a diet to lose fat, but skip cardiovascular workouts, focusing only on muscle building exercises. There is conflicting evidence about the overall health benefits of this strategy, since cardiovascular exercise strengthens the heart and lungs, where resistance exercises may not have this benefit.

Some people approach the goal to lose fat and gain muscle in an opposite direction. Muscle accumulation is said to help with burning calories. Instead of losing weight, people work on exercises that help build muscle, as these may ultimate help in eliminating excess fat. There are muscle bound people with high amounts of body fat that clearly prove this doesn’t always work.

Perhaps the best advice is to find a good nutritionist or physical trainer that can help design a program best suited for body composition desires. The program can also be checked for its efficiency with body composition testing. Testing can really say whether muscle mass is increasing, while fat levels are decreasing. Again, not all people find these goals easy to obtain simultaneously, and it may take adjustments to workouts or switching back and forth between strength and cardiovascular training to gradually lose fat and gain muscle.


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