T Nation

Gaining Muscle While Losing Fat?

Dear Fellow T-Nationals,

I have been a keen reader of T-Nation for some time and I am considering starting my first bulk and cut cycle. However, my first question is whether this is necessary and why is it not possible to do both?

Please consider the two following extremes:
a) Mr. Blubby (250 lbs, 30% Bodyfat, no muscles)
b) Mr. Meat (250 lbs, 10% Bodyfat, lots of muscle)

I understand the individual B (Mr. Meat) would have a great deal of difficulty simultaneously losing fat while putting on muscle given his current body composition, and hence the need for Bulking and Cutting.

In contrast, individual A (Mr.Blubby) would be able to achieve both by just turning up to an aerobics class once per week.

Obviously most people fall somewhere between the two extremes. My question is: how far from Individual A (Mr. Blubby) would a person have to be before they no longer are able to simultaneously lose fat and gain muscle?

In my case, I am a former fatty (220 lbs, 22% bf) who has lost a lot of fat but also some muscle (currently 190 lb, 16-17% bf). My first aim is to regain the lost muscle while getting rid of more fat. Should I consider Bulking(really concerned about gaining fat since I had to fight so hard to get rid of it in the first place) and Cutting or do I still have enough capacity to gain muscle and lose fat?


What do your lifts look like? If you are still relatively new to lifting (ie: 1-2 years) then I would say you can probably make strength and muscle gains while also losing fat as long as you are intelligent about your nutrition. Some people have achieved this with cyclical diets, eating slightly above maintenance level calories on workout days, and slightly below on rest / cardio days.

a picture is worth a thousand words. post one and we can be of much more help. also how tall are you

It’s not always a case of what’s POSSIBLE, it’s whether it’s practical or not.

Theory sounds all good and all, but does it pan out in the real world where life etc gets in the way?

Which is easier, focussing on one goal, or two?

Do you ever get brilliant results when focussing on two things at once (remember all those times you pretended to listen to your wife while watching football? haha)

The quickest route is usually the straightest/most direct one…not the one that has you going to ACHWT and finally to destination B.

Which would you rather?

A) Gain 5lbs muscle, while at the same time losing 15lbs fat over 12 months


B) Gain 25lbs muscle, THEN lose 20lbs fat…over a total period of 12 months

I’d chose option B)

Thanks for the replies, guys! In response to your comments:

I have been stupidly throwing around weights for years but didn’t really start getting smart about my training until about 2-2.5 years ago. My lifts are pretty pathetic as I’ve been doing a high volume program but I’m slowly converting to heavier weights. In terms of nutrition, my three main meals of the day are 1)oats and protein powder, 2) Sandwiches with cottage cheese and lean meat and 3)Lentil stew with additional nuts and fruits as snacks. When I eat out it is usually either Japanese (sushi, sashimi and soba) or middle eastern (shish kebobs).

I’m 5’9". I have attached my photo…

Option B sounds better but I have to be careful about gaining too much fat given how much of a battle it has been for me to get rid of it. If I do decide to bulk then I’ll definitely make sure it is a clean bulk (lots of over roasted nuts, I think!).

[quote]moderatelyfatman wrote:
Option B sounds better but I have to be careful about gaining too much fat given how much of a battle it has been for me to get rid of it. If I do decide to bulk then I’ll definitely make sure it is a clean bulk (lots of over roasted nuts, I think!).


A bulk is a bulk (you are eating enough to gain mass/muscle), it doesn’t mean gain lots of fat, or gain extremely slowly. This is why people hate the word “bulk” lol

The difference is with someone like yourself, versus someone like me (fast metabolism), is that you would curb your carbohydrate intake more than me (e.g. 30% or under of total calories) and be more concerned with timing (e.g. carbs around training, not many late at night unless after training etc).

Secondly, you would only eat enough to gain. Both of us may gain 0.5-1lbs of weight a week, but you would have done it via much lower calories than I did. Example, to gain 1lbs a week, I need to eat 5-6000cals/day, on the other hand, my brother can gain on as little as 3000cals/day.

You don’t have much lee-way with your calorie intake (things can spill over more…which means sticking more to “sensible” foods), but it doesn’t mean that you have to gain extremely slowly or anything.

You still have to gain weight. At the end of the day, you’ll find it easier to lose fat after a bulk (due to having more muscle and a faster metabolism from bulking). You can always switch gears when it’s time (fat isn’t permanent)…like take 8 months to gain 15lbs or so, then the following ~3 months to lose 15lbs (which would make your body composition even better than before due to the increased muscle weight)

Hope this helps

Fasted Cardio: search it for the correct explanation. But basically its a clutch technique lots of lifters utilize to shred fat but not target hard gained muscle. Most forms of cardio inevitably hit muscle as well so fasted cardio is a way to hit it less. Its low intensity cardio for 45 mins in the morning fasted and a diet pill or caffiene pill before is recommended i believe.

Also sprints are great for losing fat. These are techniques Ive read on here and used myself. It is definitely posisble to lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously but you definitely have to choose which is more important. You have not been lifting to long so still have many newbie gains to prosper off of. GL