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Thread: The Great Debate: Can you lose fat while gaining muscle?

  1. #1
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    The Great Debate: Can you lose fat while gaining muscle?

    So lets discuss this.

    Why do so many people think this is possible? There's a guy at the gym that swears his low carb approach to dieting allows him to gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously. How is this possible? It seems to completely go against everything you are taught in nutrition and metabolism classes. Besides, most of your pro BB go through a bulk/cut cycle. Seems like the pros would take advantage of that if possible huh?

    An increase in LBM requires a caloric surplus. A decrease in fat content requires a caloric deficit. How can these occur at the same time?


    Lets keep things civil and only focus on "normal" individuals. I'm not talking about the severely overweight fatasses you see on biggest loser, nor the 110lb skinny guy on starting strength.

    Discuss.
    Last edited by Cmanuel; 11-10-2009 at 06:18 PM.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator vdizenzo's Avatar
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    I believe it can be done, however, you must do everything right for it to happen.


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  3. #3
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    I think it's possible, it's just not the most efficient way to make mass gains. I agree with vdizenzo, I think you would have to be very meticulous and precise when it comes to your diet and training.

  4. #4
    Risk10k Clifford Gillmore's Avatar
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    Absolutely. On most, if not ALL PSMF/UD 2.0 diets that my clients have done they have had a more than drastic re-composition at some point during the cycle. All of these are intermediate, drug-free trainees that have done everything before hand, but generally fail to get in enough protein (Even though I encourage it, hell I even cook some of the meals during sessions!).

    The only reason I know that there is a fat loss/muscle increase is because we do multi-site caliper test and keep a pretty detailed log of everything, so I can look at a weeks worth of measurements and see whats happening week to week.



    Now, its not sustainable - and its not as much as you might think. Ie; Client A at the start weighed 250lbs at 17% BF, and ended up at 240lbs 13% BF, that would be the most extreme example I could come up with off the top of my head. Then there is the question of muscles holding onto extra water/plasma/blood etc, where what gets held and where what goes missing.



    Have a look at Daniel Roberts latest article on To Bulk or Not To Bulk, its worth the read!

  5. #5
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    It's possible, but highly experienced level dependent. And do you have someone giving you good diet advice. It's not so simple as calories in versus calories out (I wish it was!) Enough muscle tissue breakdown, and even without a ton of calories, the body can gain muscle but it's more conducive in certain states. An untrained or de-trained athlete has a higher ability for this to occur as opposed to someone experienced who is use to certain metabolic conditions that there usual diet is about.

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    It's certainly possible in a beginner who is modestly overweight. For a more advanced trainee it may be possible if the diet is absolutely perfect, but I'm not even sure about that.

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    Of course it's possible and Ill expalain why and I'm sure Sean S will actually back me on this due to the similar backgrounds in nutrition we have. Let me explain. Recent studies show that low intensity workouts for extended amounts of time burn only your fat reserves. We don't want the person going anarobic. Hiking and rock climbing is considered the best activities. This couped with a good and proper diet will give the results in question.

    I'm sure sean s can ellaborate. I don't know the bio chemistry behind it
    Last edited by SkyeD; 11-10-2009 at 08:34 PM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member cphafner's Avatar
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    yes, but it takes a very meticulous diet.
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  9. #9
    LuNa
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    So what are the thoughts on Carb Cycling then? It seems that this diet could give you a recomposition. I guess this would still fall under the heading of a perfect diet?

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    ^ its hard to compile a perfect diet. Depending on your own personal metabolism. How much leptin and lpl your body manufactures and so on. Guides are easy to follow but something this meticulous especially at a low percentage of body fat needs to be dug at a little deeper.
    Last edited by SkyeD; 11-10-2009 at 09:20 PM.

  11. #11
    THE 800 QUEST NickAus's Avatar
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    I have gone from 225 to 213 and gained a lot of strength, I would say I put on muscle but can't prove it
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Invain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cphafner View Post
    yes, but it takes a very meticulous diet.
    This
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuNalicious View Post
    So what are the thoughts on Carb Cycling then? It seems that this diet could give you a recomposition. I guess this would still fall under the heading of a perfect diet?
    Yes, and remember the carb cycling has to been done very precisely. I would be interested in data on this if we could get some people to take DEXA scans throughout this process to see if they are truly gaining lean mass while losing fat. I don't completely trust skinfold measurements.
    The low intensity cardio could help tap into the fat stores, but you still have the issue of taking in enough calories to build muscle but still lose fat at the same time.
    Here's something else to think about (I heard this somewhere from Dave Tate, so I can't take credit). Even professional bodybuilders taking a truckload of anabolic drugs and nutrient repartitioning agents still lose muscle when they diet down for a contest. As obsessive as they are about their food intake and with all the drugs they use, don't you think if there was a way to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time they would all be doing it to get ready for a contest? Just something to think about.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sean S View Post
    As obsessive as they are about their food intake and with all the drugs they use, don't you think if there was a way to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time they would all be doing it to get ready for a contest? Just something to think about.
    Yeah thats what i was alluding to in my post when i mentioned:
    "Besides, most of your pro BB go through a bulk/cut cycle. Seems like the pros would take advantage of that if possible huh?"



    So it seems the general consensus is that yes it can be done but:
    1. only in rare cases
    2. its very inefficient compared to normal bulk/cut cycles

  15. #15
    Senior Member Invain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sean S View Post
    Yes, and remember the carb cycling has to been done very precisely. I would be interested in data on this if we could get some people to take DEXA scans throughout this process to see if they are truly gaining lean mass while losing fat. I don't completely trust skinfold measurements.
    The low intensity cardio could help tap into the fat stores, but you still have the issue of taking in enough calories to build muscle but still lose fat at the same time.
    Here's something else to think about (I heard this somewhere from Dave Tate, so I can't take credit). Even professional bodybuilders taking a truckload of anabolic drugs and nutrient repartitioning agents still lose muscle when they diet down for a contest. As obsessive as they are about their food intake and with all the drugs they use, don't you think if there was a way to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time they would all be doing it to get ready for a contest? Just something to think about.
    Never compare a pro to a normal weight lifter, or even guys that use and compete but aren't at the pro level.

    You also have to realize they're losing mass because they're dieting to extremely low bf percentages. Once you get into the single digits losing fat while retaining muscle mass gets exponentially harder. There is a HUGE difference between cutting to 10% bf and cutting to 3 or 4%.

    As for bulking and cutting, every pro does things differently and some stay relatively lean all year round while others go crazy and gain a ton of mass in the off season. The guys that stay leaner don't have as much work to do coming in to a contest and won't have to worry about losing as much mass. The guys that ate everything in sight in the off season may have packed on more LBM, but now they have to lose 50+ pounds to be in contest condition. I've heard of guys going overboard in the off season and being way off condition wise for competitions because they simply had too much weight to lose.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by NickAus View Post
    I have gone from 225 to 213 and gained a lot of strength, I would say I put on muscle but can't prove it
    Strength and muscle mass are not directly correlated. You can gain strength while losing muscle mass just from neuro recruitment and adaptation.
    Nick V

  17. #17
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    If you are really fat and out of shape this is very possible.

    I almost get jealous of out of shape people because of the gains they can make so fast(if they try).

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    If you were to be working out and eating well (e.g., high protein) at a caloric defecit, and in turn burned some significant body fat, wouldn't your muscles "appear" bigger just from the mere fact that there is less body fat covering them (even if, in reality, they lost some mass)? I'm assuming this is the effect that 99% of people who claim they gained lean muscle mass while burning fat are actually experiencing.

    As an aside, I have a newbie question/challenge to the original question. It was said that "An increase in LBM requires a caloric surplus. A decrease in fat content requires a caloric deficit." I just thought an increase in WEIGHT requires a caloric surplus and a decrease in WEIGHT requires a caloric deficit, without saying anything about the composition of said weight. As such, couldn't you be at a slight caloric defecit such that you are burning fat and gaining muscle at the same time, but doing each at such a rate that would cause you to lose weight overall (or vice versa)?
    Last edited by KramerTM; 11-16-2009 at 02:58 PM.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Invain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KramerTM View Post
    If you were to be working out and eating well (e.g., high protein) at a caloric defecit, and in turn burned some significant body fat, wouldn't your muscles "appear" bigger just from the mere fact that there is less body fat covering them (even if, in reality, they lost some mass)? I'm assuming this is the effect that 99% of people who claim they gained lean muscle mass while burning fat are actually experiencing.
    Yeah, lower bf% can create huge illusions. Obviously the easiest way to tell if you're doing a true recomp is if your weight is staying the same/slowly increasing while you are visibly losing fat.
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