The Ultimate Guide to Losing Fat and Gaining Muscle (At the Exact Same Time)

Is Vader on the right track to lose fat and proceeds muscle? Let's find out!

There’s an treatise in the fitness world that you can either segregate to lose fat OR proceeds muscle.

That they just can’t be washed-up simultaneously.

To this, I say, “Hogwash!”

We have tons of success stories from our online coaching clients who have been worldly-wise to do both simultaneously:

And that’s what we’ll imbricate in today’s guide!

We’ll do so by discussing:

Plus, I have tons of sweet LEGO photos and silly gifs on their way, which is unchangingly a good time.

What’s Soul Recomposition?

As Coach Matt mentions in the video above, gaining muscle and losing fat simultaneously is tabbed “body recomposition.”

So yes, the process is indeed possible, as long as you follow the right plan.

…but you don’t have to take my word for it.

Just ask our friend Aksel here (who achieved an impressive soul recomp with the help of a NF Coach):

A side-by-side of Aksel's surpassing and after

Read increasingly well-nigh his incredible story!

However, as I mentioned in the intro, you’ll often hear that losing fat while gaining muscle is impossible. The treatise goes that you should just focus on one or the other, considering doing both at once is destined to fail.

Let’s explore this claim.

Losing Fat and Gaining Muscle at the Same Time (The Controversy)

This picture shows two LEGO miners, who don't have much to do with fast weight loss, but squint cool.

To understand why losing fat while gaining muscle can be problematic, we need to explore both processes.

Let’s consider the pursuit points:

  • To lose fat, your soul needs to be in a caloric deficit. This deficit forces your soul to use pre-existing fat stores for fuel.

  • To proceeds muscle, your soul needs to be in a caloric surplus. This surplus provides the energy your soul requires to repair and build worthier muscles.

Given this, losing fat (caloric deficit) at the same time one is gaining muscle (caloric surplus) seems impossible.

However, if we go a few steps deeper into the science, it IS possible!

A foe from the Prince Bride not yoyo you can lose fat while gaining muscle.

To fathom the nuance here, let’s get into some specifics on losing fat and gaining muscle separately, and then we’ll combine them.


a picture of Homer Simpson with Donut

There is a simple wordplay and a slightly less simple wordplay when it comes to losing soul fat.

The simple answer: “consume fewer calories than you expend or burn.”[1]

Eight words, and one or two of those could probably be thrown out.

When your soul needs increasingly calories than the value you are eating, you are in a “caloric deficit.” Your soul doesn’t have the calories it needs as fuel, so it’ll start breaking lanugo parts of itself for its energy requirements.

(If you’re curious, you can calculate your daily caloric needs here).

The hope is that your soul will mostly pull from fat stores, though depending on how you are training it will moreover unravel lanugo muscle too.[2]

Said again: when you are eating a caloric deficit, your soul will pull from both its fat stores AND existing muscle for energy.

Yes, if you're not shielding you can lose fat AND muscle while losing weight.

Troubling indeed.

From a physique and health standpoint, obviously we’d prefer that your soul doesn’t unravel lanugo muscle when in a caloric deficit, and instead really focuses on using fat stores instead.[3]

I make this point for a reason: your goal in fitness shouldn’t only be “weight loss,” despite the worldwide vernacular used.

Who cares what the scale says, right?

A scale can be misleading when you're trying to lose fat and proceeds muscle.

The goal instead is to reduce soul fat while moreover keeping the muscle you have (or plane towers increasingly muscle).

That leads to a largest physique and a healthier body.

This is why there is a big market for devices that supposedly assess your body fat percentage.

By reducing the total fat on your body, OR increasing muscle mass, you’ll end up with a lower soul fat percentage (it’s just a simple ratio of fat to everything else).

And lower soul fat percentages are where “toned arms” and “6-pack abs” hang out.

Arnold lost soul fat and gained muscle to unzip his physique. And maybe some super glue.

We’ll discuss tips on keeping and growing your muscle while in a calorie deficit later in this guide. For now, remember you need fewer calories “in” compared to calories “out” for weight loss to occur, from either fat stores or muscle.

You may be asking, “Steve, what’s easier to do? Shrivel increasingly calories or slosh less?”

Good question.

Numbers will help tell the story: though this is a gross oversimplification – let’s use the ‘widely accepted’ starting point of “3,500 calories equals roughly one pound of fat.”[4]

If you want to lose one pound – or half a kilogram – of soul fat in a week (a worthy, sustainable goal for some), you need to create a caloric deficit of 500 calories per day.

Your options to create this caloric deficit include:

  • Consuming 500 fewer calories
  • Burning 500 increasingly calories
  • A combination of the two

Which is easier?

Here are both halves of that equation. 500 calories equals:

  • The number of calories found in a Big Gulp of Mountain Dew.
  • An estimate of the calories required to run five miles.

Yes, you will have to run for a long time to shrivel 500 calories.


When it comes to maintaining a caloric deficit, it really comes lanugo to diet.

It’s significantly increasingly constructive and time-efficient to slosh 500 fewer calories than it is to shrivel 500 spare calories.

As Time magazine controversially pointed out – with tons of cited studies – “exercise vacated won’t make you thin.” It’s too easy to add increasingly calories in, and requires too much work to powerfully influence “calories out.”

We dig into this in our guide to The CICO Diet.

This brings us to our slightly less simple wordplay on getting in shape:

To lose soul fat, you need to watch what you eat, and do so in a sustainable way.

Here at Nerd Fitness, we are firm believers that 80-90% of the fat-loss equation comes lanugo to nutrition (check out Rule # 4).

Here’s flipside idea we focus on: EAT MOSTLY UNPROCESSED FOOD.[5]

These image shows some real food, hair-trigger if you're trying to lose soul fat.

Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts are all unconfined examples.

These foods are very nutrient-dense and often low in calories compared to their processed counterparts. Which ways you get filled up without overeating.


Have you overly seen the difference between 200 calories of broccoli and 200 calories of a bagel? WiseGEEK does a unconfined job of displaying this, so we’ll infringe a couple of their photos.

200 calories of broccoli:

A pic of 200 calories of broccoli

200 calories of a bagel:

This picture shows you 200 calories worth of a bagel, which is well-nigh 2/3 of one.

That’s why REAL supplies is the wordplay to creating a sustainable caloric deficit.

Most people can eat an unshortened bagel, no problem. Plates of broccoli, with all of the fiber, are much tougher to overeat.

We lay it all out in our Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Eating. It’ll provide tips on how to gradually create habits that get you to a “REAL food” way of eating, including proper portion sizes, tips on batch cooking, and a cameo from Winnie the Pooh.

Pooh knows that to lose fat and proceeds muscle, he really needs to tomfool it with all the honey.

With all of this, we teach you to take it slow, so new habits of healthy eating wilt permanent.

Something you can do for the rest of your life.

It’s a strategy we work closely with our coaching clients on: small nutritional adjustments they finger well-appointed making. It’s how some of them have been worldly-wise to lose 50-100 pounds!

Let me explain again: what you eat will be 80%-90% of the equation for losing soul fat.

The other 10-20%? Exercise.

Of undertow it’s exercise.

That’s a pretty good segue into…


Toy Hulk and the wilds trunks of huge plants

If you want to build muscle, you’ll have to lift heavy things and ensure that your soul has unbearable calories and protein to transmute by towers increasingly muscle.

In our Beginner’s Guide to Towers Muscle and Strength, I summarize it as follows:

  • Lift heavy things
  • Eat a nutrition based on your goals
  • Rest so your soul can recover

Let’s yack well-nigh each one quickly.

#1) Lift heavy things

I will unchangingly be on Team Strength Training. If you’re looking to build muscle, you’re gonna need to lift heavy things.

This Muppet knows strength training will help him proceeds muscle and lose fat.

When you lift an object (or your own bodyweight) unbearable times, your muscles reach the point of failure. This causes your muscles to tear and breakdown.

When your muscle rebuilds itself pursuit the workout, it’ll be worthier and stronger than before. Then you do it again.

And again.

And again.

As long as you are eating unbearable to rebuild your muscle, you’ll get stronger!

Not sure where to start on a Strength Training practice? No problem! You can download our self-ruling guide Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know when you join the Rebellion (our self-ruling community) below:

#2) Eat a nutrition based on your goals

Because your muscle needs to be rebuilt without exercise, the calories are gonna need to come from somewhere. I’ll talk a lot well-nigh proper nutrition in the next section (with a Harry Potter analogy), so I won’t spend too much time on it here.

Just know that eating the right quantity of foods will be a big part of gaining muscle.

#3) Rest

Your soul rebuilds itself while you sleep, so make sure you get plenty of rest each night. I’m talking 7-8 hours. This will help ensure your soul has the time it needs to grow stronger.

If you’re strength training and only getting 6 hours of sleep a night or less, you’re really doing yourself a disservice. Go to bed!

Donald knows he has to get plenty of rest to grow muscle. If only that sink would stop dripping.

That’s the short gist of how to build strength: rencontre your muscles, eat well, and get some rest.

Let’s narrow in on our second point, “Eat a nutrition based on your goals.” It’ll wilt very important when balancing both losing soul fat and gaining muscle.

To do that properly, grab your owl, and let’s yack well-nigh Hogwarts.

How to Lose Fat WHILE Gaining Muscle (The Science)

Close-up shot of microscope with metal lens at laboratory.

To wordplay the question of losing soul fat and gaining muscle at the same time, I’d like to introduce an illustration from the world of Harry Potter.

Recall the “Sorting Hat:” The Sorting Hat’s job was to determine which of the four houses kids will undeniability their home.

The sorting hat will help us tell the story on calories and losing fat.

It’s scrutinizingly like a traffic director: “Harry, you will go to Gryffindor! Draco, you will go to Slytherin!”

Your soul operates on a VERY similar operation: every day it receives new calories (when you eat), and it needs to decide what to do with them!

For example:

You eat a yellow parm sub with fries and a 20-ounce soda. Your soul then has to know where to route all those calories.

To alimony things simple, it has three choices. It’ll sort those calories into one of three houses:[6]

A. Shrivel for Fuel

B. Rebuild Muscle

C. Store as Fat

Right now, when you eat food, your soul sorts most of those calories into “Burn for Fuel.”

There’s a number of calories your soul needs each day just existing: to alimony your liver functioning, your heart pumping, your smart-ass operating, to regulate your soul temperature, and so on – it burns a good permafrost of calories just keeping the lights on.

A vibration heart requires calories, which factors into your calorie needs.

This is your “Basal Metabolic Rate” which you can summate for yourself in our TDEE calculator.

There’s moreover “B. Rebuild as Muscle” and “C. Store as Fat,” which I devoted unshortened sections to above.

This is where the problems arise: When you overeat calories and your soul doesn’t need anymore to fuel itself, it takes those uneaten calories and stores them as fat.

However, our goal is the OPPOSITE of this.

We want to alimony the muscle we have (or grow it) while getting rid of the fat!

So let’s imagine a scenario where we pull all this together by strength training heavy AND reducing our caloric intake:

  1. You strength train regularly, and your muscles unravel lanugo and need to be rebuilt.
  2. You don’t slosh unbearable calories to both rebuild muscle and fuel itself. There’s not unbearable to go into the “Burn for Fuel” and “Rebuild Muscle” houses.

Does your soul just shut down?


Yep, if you have fat on you your soul will pull from it to take superintendency of its needs.
Your soul has been preparing for this, by storing any glut calories over the years in the “Store as Fat” house.

This ways your soul can pull from “Store as Fat” to make sure all the work still gets done, including your daily functions as a human and rebuilding the muscle you tore apart.

Said flipside way:

If you have fat stores (and we all do), you do not need to be in a “caloric surplus” to rebuild muscle. The calories stored in your fat cells act as this required energy.

There is moreover vestige that muscle can plane be grown while in a caloric deficit.[7]

Meaning worthier muscles with a lower whup size.[8]

This dog just found out it's possible to both lose fat AND proceeds muscle.

However, if you want to skip all the experimentation and trial and error, you can have a Nerd Fitness Coach do all the heavy lifting for you (not really, you’ll still need to work out).


Superhero Couple. Male and sexuality superheroes. Cloudy sky.

Let’s bring this all together and create some violating steps to losing soul fat and towers muscle at the same time.

#1) Sustain a caloric deficit while eating unbearable protein

You need your soul to shrivel increasingly calories than you consume, and moreover provide your soul with enough protein to rebuild its muscle.

You can only lose fat if you’re in a calorie deficit.

You need to reduce your calories and be in a deficit if your goal is to lose fat.

Remember the Sorting Hat analogy:

If you’re eating too much, your glut calories are stuff sent to the “Store as Fat” house.

We want to pull from this house instead. So eat less than you shrivel consistently.

To help here, I have 3 resources for you:

  1. Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Eating. If you want tips and tricks to create habits based on REAL food, that guide will help get you there.
  2. Determining the Perfect Nutrition for You.” I talk well-nigh the benefits of creating a Mental Model on nutrition like Intermittent Fasting, Paleo or Keto (or Paleolithic Ketogenic) to help navigate all the supplies choices you need to make.
  3. Count calories: This ways learning your total daily energy expenditure, and tracking your other calories through an app (and/or weighing your food).

You don’t have to follow some predetermined tabulation like “low-carb.” You can create your own nutrition (which is what I do). Learn all well-nigh it right here.

#2) Strength train

If you could sell a pill that could be prescribed to every single person on Earth to make them healthier, it would squint something like a strength training routine in a bottle.

A one arm push-up can help you lose fat and build muscle, but maybe start with regular push-ups first.

It is one of the weightier things you can do for your body.[9]

And really, if you want to build muscle, you’re gonna need to lift something! Either weights or your own bodyweight.

You need to rencontre your muscles in order for them to get stronger. Now, as we discuss in our vendible on the correct number of reps and sets, there are multiple ways to do so.

To build muscle:

Lift lighter weights for lots of reps.

Lift really heavy with fewer reps.

The important thing: pick a strategy and get started.

Vada is ready to strength train! And torment her Dad's GF.

Here are 3 paths forward:

  1. Start with a beginner bodyweight workout.
  2. Follow one of our 5 Beginner Strength Training Routines.
  3. Go through our 6 Level Gym Workouts.

To recap: if you train heavy and eat a caloric deficit, your soul will pull from its fat stores to both fuel itself and potentially moreover build muscle. This is a double whammy of AWESOME.

#3) Prioritize protein

Outside of stuff in a caloric deficit and lifting weights (or yourself), eating unbearable protein is one of the key components of both losing soul fat and towers muscle.

Protein is the number one nutrient for creating new tissue.[10]

Sponge Bob knows how to build muscle and strength.

So when you cut out calories to create a caloric deficit, don’t cut them from protein sources.

Studies have shown that participants can proceeds muscle, plane while in a caloric deficit, as long as they eat unbearable protein.[11]

It’s important unbearable that I’ll say it again:

If you don’t want your soul cannibalizing its muscles while you are in a caloric deficit, you need to eat plenty of protein.[12]

How much protein?

As we point out in our Guide to Protein, roughly 1 gram for every pound of your weight, with an upper limit of 250 grams.[13] Or two grams for every kilogram if you are on the metric system. This means:

  • If you weigh 300 pounds (136 kg), eat 250g of protein.
  • If you weigh 250 pounds (113 kg), eat 250g of protein.
  • If you weigh 200 pounds (91 kg), eat 200g of protein.
  • If you weigh 180 pounds (82 kg), eat 180g of protein.

The gist: don’t skip out on protein. It should be on your plate for every meal (we’ll show you exactly how much in the next section).

If these generalized recommendations stress you out, and you want to know exactly what to do, we can help!

I’ll remind you of Nerd Fitness Coaching, where we help clients lose soul fat, proceeds muscle, and level up their lives. We provide tailored and specific recommendations based on your soul and lifestyle, plus peccancy and mindset changes to help ensure your new habits stick.

Nerd Fitness Coaching Banner


Toy Dinosaur holding a fork next to a slice of birthday confection on a undecorous background.

Remember, your eating strategy needs to include two points to lose fat while gaining muscle:

  1. Sustain a caloric deficit.
  2. Prioritize protein so you can build muscle plane while in a deficit.

You may be thinking, “That’s all well and good Steve, but what’s that unquestionably squint like?

It looks like this!

If your meal plate looks like this, you're doing great!

Taken from our Guide to Start Eating Healthy, which I really want you to read.

The plate is well-balanced of the following:

  • 1-2 servings of protein (¼ of plate)
  • 2 servings of vegetables (½ of plate)
  • 1 serving potatoes, rice, or pasta. (1/4th of plate)
  • 1 serving of fat (size of your thumb)
  • 1 zero-calorie or low-calorie instillation (water, nutrition soda, tea)

By sticking to our Healthy Plate strategy above, you’ll focus on “REAL food,” which will help you maintain a caloric deficit over time.

Let’s strop in on protein for a moment, considering it’s the hair-trigger piece for “building muscle.”

Protein can come from any number of sources, including:

  • Meat (steak, bison, pork).
  • Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck).
  • Eggs![14]
  • Fish and shellfish (salmon, tuna, shrimp).
  • Legumes (black beans, chickpeas).

Not a meat-eater? Read our massive plant-based guide!

A serving of protein is well-nigh the size and thickness of your palm.

A serving of protein should be well-nigh the size of your palm, like so.

*The 4 oz serving is for an uncooked piece of meat. Cooking reduces well-nigh 25% of the weight, bringing it lanugo to well-nigh 3 oz.

If you’re curious, here’s how much protein is in a serving of food:

  • 4 oz (113 g) serving of yellow has virtually 30 g of protein.
  • 4 oz (113 g) serving of salmon has 23 g of protein
  • 4 oz (113 g) of steak has 28 g of protein.

While all of the Healthy Plate whilom is important, I want you to pay uneaten sustentation to your protein intake since we are trying to build muscle.

If you’re having trouble making your protein intake goals, trammels out our Guide on Protein Supplements for some tips and tricks to up your intake, including some superstitious smoothie recipes.

This is the word-for-word strategy I followed to lose 22 pounds and get to single-digit soul fat percentages WHILE towers muscle:

  • Lift super heavy.
  • Eat LOTS of protein.
  • Reduce carb and fat intake.

If you are NOT losing weight, it ways you are still eating too many calories. Alimony your protein intake high, and reduce your fat and carbohydrate intake.

I imbricate this in greater detail in our “why can’t I lose weight?” guide.

Eventually, you’ll reach a status where there just isn’t unbearable fat on you to help with “Rebuild Muscle.” At this stage, you can no longer stay with a caloric deficit. You’ll need to flip to a slight “caloric surplus” to build increasingly muscle.

Which ways you’ll have to eat more.

Like this turtle, you may reach a point where you have to eat increasingly to proceeds muscle.

It’s debatable when this will unquestionably occur, and we are all different. Reaching 8% soul fat for men and 16% soul fat for women is a good place to start.

I talk well-nigh this extensively in our guide “How to Build Muscle.”

It covers ways to increase your calories for muscle gain, from eating plentiful amounts of Paleo foods to drinking unbearable milk to make Santa Claus jealous.

Santa is drinking milk to put on some muscle. The cookies are just considering he likes them.

Go trammels it out if you’ve been having trouble putting on muscle.

I want to stress that if you are lifting heavy, and not gaining muscle, diet is likely the culprit.

It was my problem for years, and I’ve seen it amongst myriad readers of Nerd Fitness who have trouble gaining muscle.

If you want an expert who will tell you exactly when to eat increasingly or less, trammels out our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program.

HOW TO TELL IF IT’S ALL WORKING (Continuing to Lose Fat While Gaining Muscle)

Now you're ready to start losing fat and gaining muscle!

If you’re trying to modernize something, it’s important to track it. This moreover holds true of soul composition.

Most people do this by jumping on the scale. This can be “okay,” but it’s only going to tell part of the story.

If you’re towers muscle while losing fat, the scale might not go down. [15]

Despite weighing the same, you could potentially have an improved physique.

Don't just squint at the scale. You might have lost bodyfat and gained muscle, but the scale won't show it!

That’s why in wing to jumping on the scale, I would moreover encourage you to take progress photos.

Take front and side photos in your mirror, wearing underwear or a bathing suit. Each week, take new photos, and record the number on the scale under the same scenario. Two forms of tracking here indulge us to get the full picture.

The scale sometimes lies!

If you eat for a caloric deficit, strength train, and prioritize protein, see what happens.

You may find yourself losing some fat and gaining muscle.

If not, track each category:

Data can help tell the story.

Data and numbers will help you know if you're losing fat and gaining muscle. Numbers, not the robot.

…I was thinking of detailed notes.

But an android would be helpful too.

Oftentimes if you’re not seeing desired results, notes and record-keeping can help point us in the direction to make adjustments.

Test your assumptions if things don’t towards to be on track. Here’s our Guide on Tracking Fitness Progress for you to learn more.

The tips outlined whilom will get you started losing fat while towers muscle, but if you’re looking to go a bit further…

#1) If you want step-by-step guidance on how to lose weight, eat better, and get stronger, trammels out our killer 1-on-1 coaching program:

#2) If you want an word-for-word tabulation for getting in shape, trammels out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise increasingly frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

Try your self-ruling trial right here:

#3) Enlist in the Rebellion! We have a self-ruling email newsletter that we send out twice per week, full of tips and tricks to help you get healthy, get strong, and have fun doing so.

I’ll moreover send you tons of self-ruling guides that you can use to start leveling up your life too:

Alright, I think that well-nigh does it for this guide.

Did I miss anything? Do you have any tips and tricks when it comes to shedding soul fat and towers muscle?

Share it with us!


PS: Make sure you read the rest of the wares in our “How to Lose Weight 101” Series!

PPS: You may be asking…

Can I Soul Recomp forever?

No, you cannot lose soul fat while gaining muscle forever.

When you’re first starting off, focusing on soul sonnet is a unconfined strategy and can requite you a lot of progress.

But with resulting workout and nutrition habits over many months and years, you may notice that your changes and progress slowing lanugo or plateauing.

At this point for many, going into a more unshared muscle/weight proceeds phase for several weeks, followed by a fat/weight loss phase for several weeks will produce results faster than doing both at the same time.

Does that midpoint it’s the weightier undertow of whoopee for everyone?

Not necessarily!

  • For some, they enjoy the relative simplicity of soul recomposition tactics and it’s less to mentally think about. They still finger great, squint much variegated than when they started, and are completely content with how everything is going.
  • For others, switching from weight gain/weight loss phases might be stressful and triggering, expressly if they have a polychrome history with their nutrition. So while unshared phases of gains and losses may work weightier in theory, they might not be platonic for everyone.

Choose what’s weightier for you!

And if you’re looking for a pro to help you navigate through all these questions and situations, trammels out Nerd Fitness Online Coaching! The team spends all day talking well-nigh these sorts of things. That and Super Smash Bros.


All photo sources are right here: Venting Off, Ekaterina Minaeva ©, czgur ©, morethanl8ve ©, Константин Колосов ©, Maxim Maksutov ©, Julianna Funk ©, jump

The post The Ultimate Guide to Losing Fat and Gaining Muscle (At the Word-for-word Same Time) first appeared on Nerd Fitness.


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