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Building Muscle And Burning Fat Simultaneously - Is It Possible?

Building Muscle And Burning Fat Simultaneously - Is It Possible?

Average: 4.3 (27 votes)
4.3 5 27
It's time to carve that Winter bulk into a shredded beach body. Brad Borland shows you how to use fat for fuel while maintaining, or gaining muscle.

Is your body ready for the beach?A look at building and keeping your hard earned muscle while stripping away unwanted body fat just in time for beach season!

A ripped, muscular physique is the goal of most, if not all bodybuilders and fitness buffs alike. As summer approaches we all start thinking about getting lean after a long fall and winter of bulking and packing on real muscular bodyweight. But in the process of all that bulking we seemed to have let our abs fade in the place of strength and mass gains. So it is time once gain to shred up, lean down and turn into a ripped piece of art we all envision ourselves to be – but for you, this time will be different.

Do you often find yourself at a crossroads regarding keeping your hard-earned mass that you so tirelessly worked towards only to see it dwindle away as you diet down? Are you a “hardgainer” that has to fight for every ounce of muscle scared to death of reducing calories to get a more muscular midsection? More calories in equals more mass and fewer calories in equals less body fat – and it’s one or the other – right?

The age-old question if is it possible to gain muscle and burn fat simultaneously has been debated for many years. There are so many opinions from experts to people in the trenches that it is very difficult to sift through to the facts. Most will tell you that you must choose between the two in order to reach optimum success and that attempting both at the same time is futile. So why not just give up, reduce calories and sacrifice the muscle for better abs and more muscular arms. Because you are better than that!

You will find a way and put into practice a concise plan of action to reach your ultimate potential. The guidelines and plan included here are designed to help you not only keep, but build muscle while simultaneously burn body fat. It can be done with a little planning, discipline and hard work.

The Right Amounts

One of the single, most imperative principles in this plan is to eat the right amounts of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats). By manipulating these foods and staying strict with the guidelines your goals will soon be in range. Diet is so important that without adhering to these principles you will surely never reach your physique goals.

Protein: As the main source for building muscle, protein is absolutely necessary for your muscle building strategy. Take in around 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight (this equates to 180-270 grams for a 180 pound individual). This will guarantee that your muscles will be getting the correct dose of amino acids for maintaining and building muscle tissue. Some prime sources are chicken, lean steak, fish, turkey, ground meat, eggs, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and protein powders.

Carbohydrates: Carbohydrate is a great muscle-sparing energy source. This particular macronutrient will be drastically manipulated as the diet plan goes along and will play a major roll in its success so be extremely mindful of your intake on a daily basis. Be sure to have an intake mainly of complex carbohydrates and fiber. Sources include brown rice, wild rice, sweet potatoes, whole wheat bread, wheat pasta, vegetables, some fruits and Ezekiel products.

Fats: Never count out a healthy fat. Certain fats are essential regarding maintaining hormones such as testosterone, increasing fat burning and aiding energy levels. Healthy fats will be utilized to replace carbohydrate on certain days to keep blood sugar levels steady and help with satiety. Good sources include avocado, walnuts, almonds, olive oil, natural peanut butter, some egg yolks and sunflower seeds.

Burning fat and building muscle can be done with a little hard work.

Light the Furnace!

Now let’s look at how we can implement these macronutrients and manipulate them in such a way as to build more strength and mass while torching our fat stores. Protein levels will stay somewhat the same throughout the plan. You need that steady stream of amino acids to feed to the muscles for recuperation and repair to take place.

Try out one gram per pound of bodyweight and assess your progress. If you find yourself stalling, try to up it to 1.25 or 1.5 grams per pound and then reassess. That is about as high as you will want to go with protein – the rest is up to carbohydrate and fat manipulation. Give each change in protein amount about four weeks before reassessing.

Here is the tricky part. Now you will start to manipulate carbohydrate in such a way as to trick the body into delving into its fat stores for fuel. You will have high, medium and low consumption days. You will eat low carbs for two to four days followed by medium and high days. On the low days your body will burn fat for fuel and save muscle so as long as your protein intake is high enough. Before you starve your body of energy after so many days of low carbs (which if prolonged could lead to lower testosterone levels and metabolism) you will have a day of moderate carbs and another day of high carbs.

This will shuttle in fuel to the muscle, rev back up your metabolism and be burned without storing body fat. Carbohydrate intake will be approximately .5 grams per pound of bodyweight for low days (90 grams for a 180 pounder), 1.5 grams per pound on medium days (270 grams) and 2.25 grams per pound on high days (405 grams).

Fat intake should hover around .25 grams per pound of bodyweight or 20-30% of total calories. However, on low carbohydrate days it would be wise to increase your healthy fat intake slightly. This will ensure your hormone levels will stay steady and will supply you with ample energy for your grueling workouts.

On the low carb days simply increase your fat intake by 50%. Remember that one gram of fat has over twice the amount of calories of carbs, so a little goes a long way. For example, if you had half of an avocado on a salad, now on low carb days you will eat ¾ of an avocado.

The Muscle-Building Fat-Torching Sample Diet

Low Carbohydrate Days

  • Meal 1 - 3 eggs and 4 egg whites, ½ cup oatmeal (dry measure), cinnamon for taste, 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter.
  • Meal 2 - 2 scoops of whey protein powder mixed in water or 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1.5 ounces of almonds.
  • Meal 3 - 6-8 ounces of meat, fish or chicken, green salad with 3 tablespoons of olive oil dressing.
  • Meal 4 (pre-workout) - ½ of an apple or banana, 1 scoop of whey protein powder mixed in water.
  • Meal 5 (post-workout) - 2 scoops of whey protein powder mixed in water.
  • Meal 6 - 6-8 ounces of meat, fish or chicken, broccoli, green beans or peas or green salad with ½ avocado.

Medium Carbohydrate Days

  • Meal 1 - 3 eggs and 4 egg whites, 1 cup oatmeal (dry measure), cinnamon for taste, 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter.
  • Meal 2 - 2 scoops of whey protein powder mixed in water or 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1 ounce of almonds, 1 apple.
  • Meal 3 - 6-8 ounces of turkey with two slices of wheat bread and 1 tablespoon of light mayonnaise, Green salad with 2 tablespoons of olive oil dressing.
  • Meal 4 (pre-workout) - 1 banana, 1 scoop of whey protein powder mixed in water.
  • Meal 5 (post-workout) - 2 scoops of whey protein powder mixed in water, 12 ounces of Gatorade.
  • Meal 6 - 6-8 ounces of meat, fish or chicken, broccoli, green beans or peas or green salad with ¼ avocado, 1 cup of wild rice cooked.

High Carbohydrate Days

  • Meal 1 - 3 eggs and 4 egg whites, 1 ½ cup oatmeal (dry measure), cinnamon for taste, ½ tablespoon of natural peanut butter.
  • Meal 2 - 2 scoops of whey protein powder mixed in water or 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1 ounce of almonds, 1 apple.
  • Meal 3 - 6-8 ounces of fish, Green salad with 2 tablespoons of olive oil dressing, 1½ cup of wild rice cooked.
  • Meal 4 (pre-workout) - 1 banana, 1 scoop of whey protein powder mixed in water.
  • Meal 5 (post-workout) - 2 scoops of whey protein powder mixed in water, 12 ounces of Gatorade.
  • Meal 6 - 6-8 ounces of meat, fish or chicken, broccoli, green beans or peas or green salad with ¼ avocado, 1 medium sweet potato.

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  • About The Author
    Brad is the founder of Workout Lab. He has a Master's degree in Kinesiology and is a consultant, writer, strength & conditioning specialist, husband and father. Brad is a military veteran and a cancer survivor.
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Comments (277)

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brad
Posted Thu, 01/13/2011 - 12:43

Thanks Steve!

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TJ
Posted Thu, 01/13/2011 - 21:13

great article! Just curious as to how one would implement this strategy, such as would a week go high, med, low, H, M, L etc. ?

Thanks in advance!

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brad
Posted Fri, 01/14/2011 - 09:02

Hi TJ,
As the article suggests, you can start with 3 low, 1 medium and 1 high regarding carb intake to start. After around 4 weeks adjust accordingly.

Thanks!
Brad

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Ash
Posted Tue, 03/22/2011 - 04:03

Hi Brad, Im a 23 old male 86kg. looking to gain lean muscle mass and decrease my body fat percentage.
i havent as yet started this eating plan, but wanted to ask a few questions about it.
i will be undergoing a "2 day on 1 day off " workout plan. (upper, lower , cardio) kinda thing.
just wanted to know how you would suggest deligating which eating plan day to workout day?
for example, would you suggest, Medium Carb day for Upper Body, High Carb day for Lower Body and then Low Carb day for Cardio days?

very excited to get started on this
regards
Ash

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Brad
Posted Tue, 03/22/2011 - 15:02

Hi Ash,

Yes, the plan you outlined sounds good. Try it out for at least 6 weeks before adjusting things.

Let me know how your results go.

-Brad

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Joey B
Posted Sat, 01/15/2011 - 15:01

Do you not recommend cottage cheese or casein protein right before bed?

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bradb
Posted Sat, 01/15/2011 - 17:28

Hi Joey,

Both are great options for the long fast of sleep ahead. I am a big proponent of solid foods. They not only can (sometimes) be a cheaper option, they can also leave you feeling fuller longer.

However, casein is also an excellent source of slow digesting amino acids. If money allows, casein can be a fierce ally regarding muscle growth.

I say, it depends on finances, how many other protein shakes you are ingesting throughout the day and how pressed for time you are. You don't want to turn into one of those individuals who downs over half of their daily protein from powder. Solid food protein sources are important in making up most of your intake.

Hope that helped.
-Brad

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brad
Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 09:17

Hi Joey,

I actually recommend either. Both are great for getting those slow-released amino acids in your bloodstream over the long night of sleep. I guess it all depends on your money situation and how many other protein shakes you are downing during the day.

If you are already taking in 2 or 3 shakes per day, then I would say go with cottage cheese. Whole food proteins are (in my book) a better choice for putting on serious muscle mass. On the other hand, if time is a factor and you can afford it, casein can be a convenient alternative.

-Brad

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shirley
Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 06:02

hi Steve,
can i use this diet plan? i'm a 21 yrs woman..weight 132pounds..
thanks

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brad
Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 09:22

Hi Shirley,

Yes! Just adjust the caloric levels for your weight and goals. Reduce all levels by about 30% or so, as this original diet plan was designed for a 180-200 lb male trainer.

let me know if you have any more questions.

-Brad

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shirley
Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 11:08

Thanks a lot Brad.

just to confirm, for example meal 1 in low carb day..i just need to take 2 eggs and 3 eggs white, right?

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brad
Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 14:07

Yes. Adjust proteins for example to .75 to 1 grams per pound of body weight. Play with the numbers a bit to see what works. You will eventually find what amounts of macros will work for your specific body type.

-Brad

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jiakai
Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 11:11

how much am i expecting to lose
if i add cardio after workout for 10-15min 4x a week?
or without cardio

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brad
Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 14:05

Hi Jiakai,

Everyone loses body fat at different rates. The important point is to stick with a plan and monitor your own individual results.

-Brad

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jiakai
Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 17:07

i just started today
and its very painful for a 185lb guy
i eat this 5x a day
and i get hungry an hour later
3oz of brown rice about 18.5g of carbs
4oz of chicken breast about 43.3 g of protein cooked with olive oil
half cup of grean peas n carrot with brocolli

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Jordan
Posted Wed, 01/19/2011 - 09:27

Does it matter how i work this in with my workout schedule. ie would it be optimum if I take my days off on a low carb day or anything along those lines?

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brad
Posted Wed, 01/19/2011 - 11:42

Hi Jordan,

You defintely can. And you can have a high carb day on an intense leg day for example.

-Brad

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Steve T
Posted Wed, 01/19/2011 - 15:17

Thanks, Brad. I'm going to try this over the next 8-12 weeks. I'm starting with two low days for the first 4 weeks, then going to three or four after that. I'm still trying to gain some muscle, but I have a gut to lose in the meantime, so I really appreciate this article. I'm hoping that it can help me to meet both goals simultaneously.

Can you elaborate a little on your own personal experience with carb cycling?

Thanks so much,

Steve T
Murrysville, PA

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brad
Posted Fri, 01/21/2011 - 09:32

Hi Steve,

That is great to hear! I really only write articles based on my own expereinces and/or beliefs so I can tell you that carb cycling not only has worked for me, but also many of my clients over the years. Just as you switch up training to keep the body guessing and growing, an eating plan, in my mind, has to follow the same plan: keep it guessing and losing body fat.

Just look at some of my contest photos and you will see my experience with it.

Thanks!
-Brad

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Steve T
Posted Fri, 01/21/2011 - 13:08

Thanks, Brad. I'm all for theory, but its good to know that you've done it with good results, too. I've just been through 2 days of low carb and am on a medium carb day now. I'm excited about the possibilities.

Take care,

Steve

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Steve T
Posted Sat, 01/22/2011 - 10:30

Hi again, Brad. I just completed 3 days (2 low, 1 med) and I'm down 2.5 lbs already. At last measurement, my waist was 40", so that could be entirely what I need, but I didn't expect to lose so quickly. Is that reasonable? My carbs and fat have been according to formula, and my protein has been at 250g or higher.

Just to double check, are the formulas you gave enough to account for a daily (5 days/week) workout, or do I need to add additional calories to cover it?

Even if not, could you describe how to handle adding macro-nutrients to cover, say, a typical aerobic session? I'm not sure whether or not to just add carbs, or to split calories among the three by percentage, or what...

Thanks again! I really appreciate your article and advice.

Steve T
Murrysville, PA

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bradb
Posted Sun, 01/23/2011 - 16:39

Hi Steve,

Yes, oftentimes a sharp drop in weight is common when on such a diet. Most of the weight loss is due to water being released because of the drop in carbohydrate. Carbs attract water, so it can be a bit of a surprise at first.

After a few more days or a couple of weeks, the body will balance out and hydrate with more water. This is what most trainees experience when getting on a new diet and that is why they want to quit. Decreases in strength, endurance and subsequently motivation are normal. The trick is to stick to it, get through that "wall" and move on. All of those attributes that were once on the decline will restock themselves and be on the road to gains.

Yes, the macros are for training 4-6 days per week. What you are doing is fine, just wait 4 weeks until making any drastic changes.

Be sure to follow my training journal for any more questions at:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/forum/member-training-journals/49007-b...

Also, be sure to chack out my blog here: www.WorkoutLab.net

-Brad

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Steve T
Posted Mon, 01/24/2011 - 12:39

Thanks again, Brad. Super-helpful.

Take care,

Steve

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brad
Posted Mon, 01/24/2011 - 15:12

Not a problem! Glad to help.

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amen bangka
Posted Wed, 01/19/2011 - 18:48

thanks a lot , i just started ..

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brad
Posted Fri, 01/21/2011 - 09:35

Let me know your progress!

Thanks!
-Brad

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Tom
Posted Wed, 01/19/2011 - 19:46

So would you be able to gain weight while losing body fat following a diet like this?

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brad
Posted Fri, 01/21/2011 - 09:34

Tom,

With the correct adjustments catered to your specific body type, yes.

-Brad

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ashleigh
Posted Thu, 01/20/2011 - 09:44

Hi great article and am thinking of giving this ago.

my question is i workout mon/wed/fri. first thing in the morning before work. so when should i eat my high carb days?

should it be on the day which wouldnt make sense as i have already worked out, or should it be on the day before? so im fully loaded with glcogen stores?

would it be beneficial to say do mon/low/ tue/high wed/low thurs/high fri/low sat/med sun/med ?

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brad
Posted Fri, 01/21/2011 - 10:00

Hi Ashleigh,

You can definitely try this plan you have outlined. Try it for at least 4 weeks to see any changes before switching anything around.

The plan (as it is scheduled) is really for individuals who workout 4-6 days per week. But, it can work for other cases with some adjustment.

Keep me posted!
-Brad

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brad
Posted Fri, 01/21/2011 - 10:03

Thanks for all of the great comments and questions!

Keep them coming!

Also, be sure to stop by my Journal at Muscle and Strength here:

www.muscleandstrength.com/forum/member-training-journals/49007-brads-spr...

And also, stop by my site: WorkoutLab.net for more info!\

-Brad

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ashleigh
Posted Sun, 01/23/2011 - 09:27

cheers for the feedback brad.

what about cardio with this plan?

also should you be looking to still gain weight on this plan, obvioulsy gain muscle weight and lose fat weight?

cheers

ashleigh

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bradb
Posted Sun, 01/23/2011 - 16:42

MOST fat loss is due to a carfull manipulation of diet. You can include cardio, but (I suggest) only after you have been on the plan for 4-6 weeks. Afterwords, add in a few cardo sessions per week such as 2-3 for aroubd 20 minutes and go from there.

Hope this helps!

-Brad

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tom
Posted Sun, 01/23/2011 - 13:28

So should I be eating the same amount of calories every day, but just adjusting the macro nutrients of each on high, low, and medium carb days?

And if I were looking to gain weight while losing body fat, should I be consuming 500 calories over my BMR while implementing this diet?

Thanks a lot!

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bradb
Posted Sun, 01/23/2011 - 16:47

Roughly, the calories will be similar. By manipulating macros, one can do some significant "remodeling."

You can add in a few calories if you find yourself too lethargic and/or weak.

-Brad

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patrick
Posted Mon, 01/24/2011 - 16:49

burning more calories than you consume is the ultimate motto of fat loss. can you tell me how many calories are in the high medium and low days?

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brad
Posted Tue, 01/25/2011 - 10:37

The diet is a rough estimate on structuring carb cycling. Total calories will be determined by one's bodyweight and ultimate goal(s). The important thing to remember is to cycle the carbs to instigate fat loss and restock your muscles with enough glycogen to spur muscle recovery. The numbers are up to the individual.

-Brad

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Zachary
Posted Mon, 01/24/2011 - 18:08

Would it be possible to add one more light day or one more med/heavy day. Because I would love to do all light for weekdays and have med and heavy on the weekends. Also Light Monday-Thursday and Med Friday and Saturday and heavy on Sunday. But only if I get similar results.

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brad
Posted Tue, 01/25/2011 - 10:38

Hi Zachary,

Yes! You can structure it that way. Just be sure to monitor your results closely and adjust where necessary.

-Brad

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matt smith
Posted Mon, 01/24/2011 - 23:40

Brad
Your sample meal plans are structured to an afternoon workout. What would you recommend for someone who works out in the mornings?

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brad
Posted Tue, 01/25/2011 - 10:07

Just keep most of the meals the same, however, I would move the pre and post workout meals around your morning workout. Afterwards, have the solid "breakfast" meal.

-Brad

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shirley
Posted Tue, 01/25/2011 - 05:58

Hi Brad,

I go workout 4days/week..when I off training, what should I take?

thanks a lot..

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brad
Posted Tue, 01/25/2011 - 10:39

Hi Shirley,

What exactly do you mean "take?" Calories? Carbs? Supplements?

-Brad

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shirley
Posted Wed, 01/26/2011 - 05:55

Sorry, I mean, when I off training, should I use this diet plan too? should I take meal 4 and 5?

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brad
Posted Wed, 01/26/2011 - 10:11

Normally, when I have an "off day" I will eliminate the post workout meal.

-Brad

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J
Posted Tue, 01/25/2011 - 11:30

Hi just a quick question does it matter if i take creatine with my 1 scoop of protein before the gym ot not? This diet also makes me feel very hungry if i need a snack or something to eat what do you advise for each day? thankyou

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brad
Posted Tue, 01/25/2011 - 13:41

Creatine is a fine addition.

If you feel you are very hungry between meals then increase either carbs or healthy fats. Is this the case?

-Brad

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Katie
Posted Tue, 01/25/2011 - 19:08

This is all fine but as a woman interested in gaining muscle AND burning fat, would you recommend this same regimen changing it only where portions are concerned?

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brad
Posted Wed, 01/26/2011 - 10:01

Yes! Actually, I have trained a former Ms. World contender and she had to lose several % body fat in a short amount of time - and it worked. Following the same regimen while changng portion sizes is the way to go.

-Brad

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J
Posted Wed, 01/26/2011 - 11:17

That may be the case. My diet at the moment is roughly
Meal 1- 3 eggs 4 eggs whites scrambled (sometimes 4 eggs)followed by a bowl of oatmeal

Meal 2- 2 scoops of a protein shake

Meal 3- often chicken and rice

Meal 4- a high protein and carb meal some fruit maybe

meal 5- one scoop of protein with creatine pre workout

Meal 6- 2 scoops of protein

Meal 7- this is often a good quality protein with low carbs followed by a glass of milk before bed

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