In the fitness community there is always a debate whether or not this this can be achieved. I often get active and fit people asking me the question, “I want to lose 20lbs of fat and gain 15lbs of muscle. How can I do this at the same time? Typically it’s men asking this question who are somewhat lean to average body fat (13-19%), they are muscular, and they have hit a plateau. They also tend to be stuck in between wanting to be leaner and wanting to be more muscular. Hence them wanting to do both at the same time. They don’t want to gain fat while building muscle which typically happens a little even with the best programs. Or they are afraid of losing muscle while getting leaner. A little muscle loss is common while losing body fat. Also, dehydration and lack of fuel can make you look and feel like you are losing muscle when you are not. This can change immediately if you were to have a healthy cheat day in which you will see your muscles fill out and strength increase. I write this for the athletic person seeking the secret “Gain 10lbs of muscle and loose 20lbs of fat in 2 months!” program that the magazines are always trying to sell.
It’s that time of year again!!
Everyone’s motivation is high to get in shape. I say use it and get a jump start on your workouts!
A few tips on your New Year’s fitness plans:
So let's get workin out!
Beginner Workout: Do all exercises in a row for 1 round. Do 4-6 rounds with 1-2 minute rests in between. Longer rests can be taken if needed.
Recently I was reminded of how much additional activity is needed for those with a sedentary lifestyle to lose fat. Most of us have a sedentary job which we drive to and then get home to sit in front of another computer or TV.
Active Jobs Make a Big Difference
The average sedentary woman will burn 1,750 cals a day and average man 2,300 cals a day. Take those same people and put them on their feet with light activity for 8 hours a day and now they burn 2,250 and 3,000 cals respectively. This activity level would describe such occupations as a nurse, server, or small-medium package handler. If you take these two people and have them at a job with moderate labor, they now burn 2,900 and 3,500 calories respectively. That is a difference of 500-1200 calories burned per day!
As a trainer, it is EXTREMELY easy to make those with active jobs lose fat. Give them a few extra workouts a week, make them adhere to a healthy diet, and watch them lose fat at an incredible rate. For the sedentary individual this happens MUCH slower as one would expect by the numbers above. They need to have their nutrition near perfect in order to lose fat at a considerable rate.
Fall in love with the gym or...
As a trainer, my superstar clients are those that fall in love with the gym. They love the gym culture and atmosphere of people working hard to improve their physiques. They are the ones who go to the gym on the days where they don’t have an appointment with me resulting in 5-6 workouts a week. At 1-2 hours each workout, this comes out to 5-12 hrs a week of moderate- to vigorous activity. In reality, this is what is needed to get FAST results. You can get slower results by doing less, which is completely okay as well.
Ever since the “High Intensity Training” movement swept the fitness industry, low intensity or steady state cardio has been thrown out with a vengeance. I am pleased to see this “fad” came along because it brought sprinting, heavily lifting, and interval training to the forefront. These are all types of training I highly suggest for those who are able to handle it. The big question on my mind was how does low intensity cardio fit into a fat loss program? After all, bodybuilders both in the natural and open arena have been using it for decades to get down to the minimal body fat percentages of 2-4%. I strongly believe in looking at what professional athletes do to achieve their goals. For increased speed, look to sprinters, for more power on the football field, look to the NFL, and for maximal fat loss, look to bodybuilders. It is what they do for a living.
For examples of macronutrients in common diets read Part 2.1 - Macronutrients
5 Simple Steps for Basic Healthy Eating
1) Start with A LOT of vegetables. Adding vegetables increases your fiber intake which always helps with fat loss. Aim for 5-10 servings of vegetables per day depending on body size.
2) Eat 1-3 fruits a day. Fruit is nutritious, but it’s still sugar and fructose at that. So eat them, but don’t overdo it.
Any diet will get you to lose fat if you are strict enough. Depending your body chemistry, some diets work better than others. Some people have success with a high carb, vegetarian diet while others thrive off a low carb, high protein diet. There is an unresolved debate on which diets work better simply because the correct diet is a matter of personal preference. Macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. The purpose of these two blogs (Part 2.1, 2.2) is to show you a handful of common diets and to take the next step beyond calories in order to find what macronutrient percentages work best for you.
Calories are important, but there is more to it than JUST counting calories.
Your weight training routine should be independent your of fat loss goals, BUT...
The old rule used to be that you would lift low reps for mass and lift high reps for fat loss. The idea was that the low, heavy reps were to build “bulk” and the high reps were to increase definition as well as burn more calories. None of this is really true in regard to fat loss. I always like to make it clear to people that all we are trying to do is decrease body fat in order to see the muscles underneath. This is how you achieve more definition or “tone” as some people put it.
Ultimately the way you lift should be independent of your nutrition. For example, if your goal is maximal strength then you are going to lift in the 1-5 rep range regardless of your fat loss goal. You wouldn’t want to do a metabolic workout 3 days a week just for the sake of fat loss while your strength and possibly muscle suffers. The same goes for athletes and bodybuilders, both competitive and recreational. Now if you are looking to achieve better daily function, Example workout #2 may be a better choice.
Your nutrition is the main component that causes you to lose body fat. Lifting light versus heavy is going to have a much smaller effect on fat loss. There are however, some things you can change in your weight training routine to maximize your results.
You can hate the word “Diet” all you want, but that is what you are doing when losing weight. Since I can’t think of any other way to describe how fast you lose fat, I’m calling this “Dieting Intensity”. Figuring out how much of a caloric deficit to be on can be trickier than one might think. Going to low may be painful and set you up to gain the weight right back. Not going low enough may not give you fast enough results to stay motivated. Here is a guide to help you determine your average goal calories based on how strict and uncomfortable you are willing to be while eating less.
Losing body fat is a very simple concept. Eat less than what you burn on a regular basis and you will lose body fat. This is step 1. It is ultimately about calories in, calories out. I’ve seen many books and articles claim weight gain is due to some other reason. They will state it is because of toxins, carbs, processed foods, not eating to our genetics (paleo), gluten, and the list goes on. While these all do play a role in weight gain, it is not the main reason why people get fat.
Jerry Yuhara, CPT, CSCS, CMT #75123
299 California Ave, Suite 120
Palo Alto, CA 94306
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