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CAn You Build Muscle and Lose Fat at the Same Time?

Yes…of course you can. I thinks so…others hear think so, and we’re tired of people saying otherwise.

I think even Poliquin says its possible.

So lets get some good discussion going on what is necessary to do this…

1.)I think first of all, you would obviously need to be hypercaloric to assist in the muscle growth.

2.) HIIT seems like it would prefered over straight cardio due to its muscle-sparing effects.

SRS, TT, Marion, others???

While I feel that it’s certainly possible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, it’s just easier to do one at a time, especially for pychological effects. For example, if you’re losing fat very quickly, you’re more likely to stick with it for the duration of the cutting cycle.

I would just feel like I was spinning my wheels doing both at the same time. But great discussion topic. I’d like to see everyone’s thoughts as well.


It’s absolutely possible. Easy, no. I’ve witnessed a good friend do it first hand, and he had been lifting for more than 3 years. I agree, a surplus in calories, and a FEW cardio sessions would be fine. Come to think of it, we went even using fish oils or flax oils, which would definetly help. Awesome topic Greekdawg.

i read about the lactic acid/HG method, i think if you type in meltdown for a search on t-mag you’ll find it. i just read about it last night, i’m thinking of having my friend go on it because hes wanting to lose some fat as well as gain muscle and it seems very possible so i think i’ll start having him do it…hell, i’ll even do it whenever i decide to go on a cutting cycle.

I believe it can even be done even on a slightly hypocaloric diet if a pro-hormone like Mag-10 is used.

Also, because of the current Ketogenic Diet Support thread, I’m interested to see if anyone is successful at reducing BF and gaining lean mass using a hypercaloric KD or CKD. My guess is it would more likely happen with a CKD, but we’ll see.

I’m in total agreement with you about HIIT.

I would recommend it while on an androgen and have actually designed a program to achieve just this, but it’s not an optimal way to go about things otherwise.

It can and has been done before. Coach Charles Poliquin is one of the best in the world with that very issue.

One of the biggest problems with gaining and losing at the same time is that everything must be perfect. Your training, nutrition, sleep and lifestyle. Someone once said if you chase 2 dreams at the same time you’ll end up with nothing!

Focus on one goal at a time for best results but always keep in mind your ultimate goal. In other words don’t lose too much muscle during cutting and don’t gain too much fat during bulking.

I agree with Tyler and Joel in that it can be done on a hypocaloric diet. I recently had a client on a plateau busting freak-show diet that involved about 850kcals/day for a 170lb woman. Before I get lynched, this is not the type of diet I EVER reccommend for somebody drug-free, but she has lost a ton of weight previously, and was stuck.

I made it simple, all calories coming from 3 whey+casein shakes/day, and a very small chicken salad. 10g EPA/DHA per day, 3000mg calcium, MD-6, 25g supplemental fiber, 200mg r-ALA before meals. Targeted Ketogenic style with all carbs post workout. I put her on a strength/hypertrophy based workout, all for a total time of 3 weeks. She lost about 12 total pounds and put on 2lbs of LBM!

All of this drug free, I was surprised, but it can be done.

I have actually achieved similar results with many drug-free clients on hypocaloric diets, this one just stands out as it was the most recent.

Ditto what the last person said. I think the key word is LIFESTYLE. Key factors:

  1. Do you have a physical or sedentary job?
  2. Do you have any major stresses in your life (financial, family, etc)
  3. Do you get a good seven hours of sleep every night or are you out all night drinking and banging?
  4. Do you follow a good diet or are you living off drive-thrus and vending machines?

I think the key to this is to be hypocaloric at all times, except for right after a big workout.

Two workouts a week would be optimal for this as you would be able to really flood the body with nutrients just prior and for 6-8 hours after a workout to allow for a muscle building environment. The rest of the week is spent hypocaloric.

I also think that programs like Meltdown or other circuit based training programs allow for both hypertropy and fat loss at the same time. But part of this hypertrophy is sarcoplasmic hypertrophy to deal with excess lactic acid. This isn’t the most functional hypertrophy, but if bodybuilding and looking good is your goal, hypertrophy is hypertrophy.

It can be done and is not too difficult but to do it naturally I believe 2 conditions have to be met:

  1. You must be at a bodyfat % at or above your comfortable bodyfat setpoint. Once you go below this your body gets scared and will try to hold onto fat and sacrifice muscle as the lower leptin levels screw everything up for muscle building.
  2. You must not be close to your muscular limit. Gaining muscle while on a diet that allows one to lose fat is not the same as being on a massive bulking diet and if for no other reason muscle gains will be compromised on the lower calorie diet. Someone who does a long bulking cycle on high calories and follows this up with a cutting diet is unlikely to build muscle while losing fat vs someone who hasn’t trained who can pull this off rather easily.

I chased this illusion for far too long. I fell in the category of Kelly’s first point. That is, I tried to maitain sub-5% bodyfat levels while trying to pack on mass. Nope.

The original poster suggested hypercaloric feeding. Nope, I don’t think so. You don’t need to be hypercaloric to add new tissue. Rather, you need to match your caloric needs exactly to add only lean tissue. Unfortunately, just like any other process, this process isn’t completely efficient, so we don’t know exactly how many calories we have to add.

I actually think that Tampa-Terry’s famous approach, or those ideas proposed by Rob Faigin–with the addition of post-workout carbs–would probably suit best for this type of goal.

Speaking of Tampa-Terry, where is our friend?

Provided everything (sleep, lifestyle, diet, training, supplementation, etc.) is on key then yes I believe it is possible, but can only be accomplished in the short-term if steroids or androgens are being used. Or if the person is highly detrained or coming from a long lay off.

It sure as hell beats bulking, cutting, bulking, cutting, bulking, cutting, you get the idea. I can’t do that anymore. It screws with my head, stomach, bank account, etc. I do “slow” cuts only and bulk only when on androgens. Mostly, I eat near maintenance calories and just alter training and supplementation.

Stating that, I’m not sure how or if I’ll do the “get ripped” contest that is brewing in the DP forum. I don’t think I’ll win with that strategy above, unless I use androgens of some sort. Nevertheless, I don’t really want to be less than 8% bodyfat anyway, so that’s only a 4% drop. That means I’d have to add lbm to win or come close to. We’ll see…

I myself used a program very similar to the one described by JN above to lose 17 pounds of fat while gaining 5 pounds of muscle over 13-14 weeks.

Although I didn’t use Meltdown specifically, I did train for hypertrophy, incorporated HIIT training, and followed a hypocaloric diet except after heavy weight training days.

It may not be easy, but it can definitely be done…

This is turning into a good thread…

Interesting alot of you guys said “hypo” caloric…

I’m curious doesn’t the potential new muscle need additional calories?

If what you say is true, then not to sound ignorant or anything but if it can be done hypo, why do we do it hypercaloric at all, like with a bulking phase?

It seems that if muscle can be grown on a hypo-diet or even maintenance, than surely there is no need to intentionally overfeed…just playing devils advocate here…

Most of you are in agrrement with HIIT it seems…

What type of training, strength or hypertrophy based?

If what one of the posters said is true, then I could conceivably just start slashing all my rest times to little or nothing…would this increase lipolysis, by itself?

Good stuff…

This is a very interesting thread, and a scenario that I have been toying around with a few of you guys (you know who you are) in 1 form or another for a while.

It’s turning out that most of use are believers, but how many of us actually do try this? Few I think. Possibly this is related to Kelly’s point that it CERTAINLY appears to be easier for a newbie to achieve. The body is basically “untrained” in all respects, and will probably respond radically to a sudden improvement in diet and a strength training routine.

But I think we’re right here in concentrating on the ALREADY TRAINED individual, as that’s where most of us sit.

Several good points already. Several of you have mentioned “perfecting” the diet, training, sleep etc. But you need to be more specific- WHAT IS perfection??

I’d like (surprise surprise!) to get more into the science of this. I think the first fallacy we need to get over is the “simultaneous” nature of the task at hand (gain muscle AND lose fat). This is often taken too literally. In order to achieve the goal what I think we REALLY need to think about is certain TIMES of the day/week for gaining muscle, and the REST of the time we want to be in a state where lipolysis and increased energy burning is stimulated, WHILST MAINTAINING muscle mass (reducing muscle breakdown).

Let’s look at the needs for lipolysis/increased energy use. (Reading TP’s recent article about Hot Roxx would help here too!). The main thing is that the body needs to sense that it NEEDS energy. The easiest way to achieve this is a hypocaloric state,- body energy must be mobilised, whether this is from body fat or protein stores. What determines WHICH is used? Seems that most of the evidence shows that if we supply adequate protein during this time we will slow protein breakdown and potentiate the use of body fat instead. I think however the key player here is …Insulin.

Insulin cannot on its own initiate or stimulate protein synthesis. This requires several other insulin-related factors. A few I can mention here include:

  1. Amino acids IN the cell (transported by Insulin?)
  2. Various growth factors (e.g.GH->IGF, T3) stimulated by Insulin.
  3. Increase in cell VOLUME. Partially related to insulin too, in as far as the basic influx of nutrients (driven by insulin) will cause osmotic flow of water.
    (NB Glutamine and Creatine are probably important players here too.)

Unfortunately, we can all appreciate that Insulin also STRONGLY inhibits lipolysis. Therefore for optimal lipolysis and energy UTILISATION we would want lower insulin levels, and a need from the body for more energy mobilisation. Studies have shown (e.g.(1)) that Insulin ALONE can inhibit muscle protein breakdown. This particular study also demonstrated that a LOW dose of Insulin is equally effective as a high dose for this purpose- particularly important in what we are talking about here I think. Another interesting finding (from medical hyperthroid cases) is that in this general CATABOLIC state, Insulin and T3 seem to be SYNERGISTIC in SPARING muscle breakdown (2).

But remove Insulin completely, and we will initiate a greater possibility of the concomitant fat AND muscle breakdown we are trying to avoid.

I would summarise, that for an OPTIMAL fat burning environment ALONG WITH the preservation of muscle mass, we would like to keep a small amount of Insulin around for it’s protein sparing effects.

So what would be the BEST diet? We seem to be in agreement that an overall hypocaloric, high protein, low carb, moderate fat diet would suit the best. I think this is why the T-Dawg/T-Dawg 2 and similar are so popular in this respect. -The presence of aa’s within the blood at most times during the day, which itself will produce that nice steady LOW level of Insulin we want as explained above, will also allow for the transport of aa’s into the cell to help reduce protein mobilisation. Meanwhile fat hopefully will still be mobilised, through the overall sensed need for body energy.

But what about the MUSCLE BUILDING part of the equation? As explained above, there is more to that than just some Insulin. We need an Insulin SURGE, and the overall feeling within the muscle cell that it’s time to GROW! A hypocaloric state at this time simply won’t suffice.

Here is where Jason Norcross’s indeas on the importance of the post-workout period make perfect sense. This is the 1 time when the body is primed for muscle vs fat deposition. So at THIS time, we need to flood the muscles with carbs and protein, the best stimulus for Insulin and the initiation of growth.

However, take it too far, and we will start depositing fat again. Hence the need for the OVERALL hypocaloric state taken over the whole week, despite these few periods of relative “overfeeding”. A question I would have here is what the OPTIMAL time for this post-workout overfeeding is. Jason suggests 6-8 hours- anecdotal or scientific evidence, Jason? It certainly seems that there is a fair degree of elasticity in the time frame after Insulin levels start to drop again before we need to withold calories once more. What I mean is that the “secondary” effects of Insulin VIA it’s intermediaries have started to take over to maintain that growth period-e.g. IGF1, acting on muscle satellite cells

Now, how about workout? It seems we are also fairly uniform in agreeing that HIIT or similar is best. We need to stimulate metabolism (GH/Thyroid hormones) as best as possible in the SHORTEST period of time, , whilst preventing the increase of muscle catabolic processes, mainly via Cortisol. The resulting rise in metabolism for the rest of the day, along with the hypocaloric state, should do nicely thank you.

As for the weights part of the workout, I think once again a high intensity approach is best. We will be in no great shape (generally hypocaloric) to perform marathon sessions, and in any case, I think we can get that muscle stress and resulting anabolic hormonal response by performing a routine based on low rep, high intensity, compound movement strength training. Frequency? Probably no more than 3 times per week to allow for adequate recovery (along with the fact we are doing cardio too).

Well, I think I’ve just about run out of gas now:-)

Just a couple of extra thoughts:

Joel, you said: (quote) ***I would recommend it while on an androgen and have actually designed a program to achieve just this, but it’s not an optimal way to go about things otherwise.***

…Sorry, I don’t understand, In what sense? Do you mean that natural people just can’t achieve it (which is refuted by most of the posters here), or that if we took an average (well-trained) Joe, and placed him on a bulking then cutting cycle, (or possibly if necessary a cutting, bulking, cutting cycle?) he would achieve his goals quicker than if he’d gone straight for fat loss/muscle gain in the same cycle? -Do you have evidence to support this, or is it just in your experience. If it’s the latter I’d still be interested in hearing the detailsfrom you.

Another interesting follow on point here IS the use of certain supps (but not AA’s) for maximal effect. It SEEMS, on paper anyway, that Hot-Roxx might prove a good move here. I won’t go into the why’s and wherefore’s- Tim Patterson’s done a far better job (and has far more expertise here) than I ever could have!

Other possible aids? I would say Creatine (for cell volumising and strength during the workout), and Glutamine (cell volumising, and a key aa for “signalling” that muscle growth can occur), along with obviously a quality source of BCAA’s for post-workout (whey protein? Surge?) would help a lot too.

Think I’ll stop now. :slight_smile: SRS

Refs: (1) Zhang et al, Insulin but not GH stimulates protein anabolism in skin wounds and muscle Am J Physiol 1999: 276

(2) Gizard et al. Insulin action on skeletal muscle protein metabolism during catabolic states. Reprod. Nutr Dev. 1999, 39: 61

General ref: Milward et al (1990). The amino acid requirements in adult man.

GREAT POSTS SRS!!! Kudos to you. Many great points and very well written…with references no less!!..haha. Thanks for sharing!

thanks for all the posts!! i’ve been taking notes like a mad man. i’m taking cell tech, nitro tech and hydroxycut. because i’m a short and wide guy by nature, size has never been an issue for me but cutting up seems out of the question. thanks a lot for the insight and advice!!

I didn’t read your whole post, but I’ll respond to what was directed to me.

You said:

Joel, you said: (quote) I would recommend it while on an androgen and have actually designed a program to achieve just this, but it’s not an optimal way to go about things otherwise.

Do you mean that natural people just can’t achieve it (which is refuted by most of the posters here)

Simultaneous muscle gain and fat loss? It can be done, but it’s not the optimal way to do things. If on an androgen, there is a solid way to achieve both simultaneously, but for the natural person, the results (if any) wouldn’t even compare.

, or that if we took an average (well-trained) Joe, and placed him on a bulking then cutting cycle, (or possibly if necessary a cutting, bulking, cutting cycle?) he would achieve his goals quicker than if he’d gone straight for fat loss/muscle gain in the same cycle?

Yes, he would.

-Do you have evidence to support this, or is it just in your experience. If it’s the latter I’d still be interested in hearing the detailsfrom you.

I dont know what kind of evidence you are looking for; everyone on this board will tell that gains will be slower in the long run when trying to accomplish both at the same time. I would get into the physiology of it, but it’s pretty simplisitic…trained individuals need a surplus of calories to really grow and a nice deficit to really lose; both can’t happen at the same time.

Off to class,


To Joel- Had to come back on this one. Thanks for your reply.

You kinda summarised what I myself was thinking whilst I typed that last post in your most recent comment(quote):
it’s pretty simplisitic…trained individuals need a surplus of calories to really grow and a nice deficit to really lose; both can’t happen at the same time.
It’s your use of the word “really” I find interesting here. -Is THIS the real reason why we all (ME included, please understand) do still use the bulk, cut philosophy. - we actually SEE the results (gaining significant size, or losing significant fat) within a “satisfactory” time frame.

(Being the devil’s advocate here) -But could the reason you say this will give miniscule results for a “natural”, be because they generally are not concentrating so much on the whole equation than someone who has just spent '00's or '000’s on AA’s, and doesn’t want to waste the investment with bad diet, sleep, training etc?

Remember that a cut (if the individual is at a BF% where bulking is not yet a good option), then bulk, then cut plan will take a significant period of time (dependant on the athletes current state, and his end-point goals within this period of time).

To concentrate WHOLLY instead on size increase/BF loss simultaneously will potentially give a substantial time frame for these changes to occur.

I don’t know, but THEORETICALLY it seems possible, and there’s a LOT of anecdotal evidence out there as we see from the comments already made (including Poliquin).

I think the CRUX of the matter is, we are ALL impatient, and like VISIBLE changes quickly. That’s the reason we still train the way we train. Meanwhile, for the newbie, these changes really can be dramatic in the first few months of training. They really do seem to be able to gain muscle/lose BF (relatively) easily.

But for the athlete, it seems to take a lot more effort, and seems to be more “hit and miss”. There are several holes that remain to be fully filled, and these could be the difference between success and failure in this case. As someone else was saying, how much easier just to have 1 goal at a time to aim for.

(NB, just as a side note, perhaps looking into the differences between the newbie and the trained athlete might help explain these discrepancies in results on the protocol suggested- fitness?, distribution of BF present? Muscle strength and co-ordination? Metabolic rate?)

What we need is evidence from natural trained individuals who have put the 2 protocols to the test in the strictest of conditions- i.e. optimising everything they can (diet, training, supps, rest) for the SAME time frame, in EITHER cutting, then bulking, then cuting; or incr LBM, decr BF. Any volunteers?

I’m afraid that despite my literary efforts here, I for 1 will still keep going with my hypercaloric efforts when trying to bulk. Main reason? NOT that I don’t think simultaneous is possible, I just can’t guarantee that in my lifestyle I won’t deviate from the “optimum” and come to nothing.

Hope this adds some more fuel to the fire.:slight_smile: SRS