Body recomposition that is also known as gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time, is extremely popular among men who want to improve their physique and offensively underestimated by female dieters. Here are some quick explanations why you shouldn’t neglect this opportunity to become leaner and stronger at the same time!
First of all, just in case you might have thought of it, let’s bust one myth. Fat doesn’t transform into muscle during body recomposition. These are two different tissues and they metabolize differently. However, if you have excess body fat and want to build muscle, your body can metabolize fat into energy and fuel your muscle even if you’re in a caloric deficit. With this being said, here are three main benefits of body recomposition.
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You can eat up to 200 calories more every day while on a body recomposition meal plan. The thing is, an average calorie restriction diet offers you to cut off 20-25% of your calorie intake which is usually about 500 calories to lose weight.
In case of body recomposition, you should stay near your maintenance level. Your daily calorie intake will vary from day to day but over a week you will be approximately at your maintenance level.
Lean mass needs more energy1McPherron A. C., Guo T., Bond N. D., Gavrilova O. (2013, April 1). Increasing muscle mass to improve metabolism. Adipocyte. DOI:10.4161/adip.22500 than body fat. This means that by increasing your muscle mass and decreasing your body fat percentage, you will be able to increase your metabolism as your body will burn more energy to fuel every additional pound of muscle you’ve built instead of fat. This means that in the long run, you will be able to eat slightly more calories than the person of your height and weight but with a lower lean mass percentage.
Fashion on feminine physique changes every decade. Today, these are toned fitness models with defined glutes, hands, and abs. As for me, it looks damn good! What’s more, seeing how you become stronger day after day, lifting heavier weights, gives you the feeling of self-confidence we all need.
According to the 2020 study2Barakat C., Pearson J., Escalante G., Campbell B. (2020, August). Body Recomposition: Can Trained Individuals Build Muscle and Lose Fat at the Same Time? Strength and Conditioning Journal. Retrieved from https://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/fulltext/2020/10000/body_recomposition__can_trained_individuals_build.3.aspx, there are three main groups of people who can see the results of body recomposition. Fortunately, this is the largest part of people going to the gyms or thinking about their nutrition.
If you’ve never lifted weights before or if you’ve never pushed yourself hard enough in the gym, you will be astonished at how fast you will make progress at the beginning of your body recomposition.
What’s specifically interesting, you can be an elite football player or dancer, but when you change your workout routine and switch to weight lifting, you can see the results of body recomposition even if you’re not a newbie.
If you had to take a pause in your training, restarting it again might be a great point to try body recomposition. If you had a pause of several weeks or months, your muscle memory3Gundersen K. (2016, January). Muscle memory and a new cellular model for muscle atrophy and hypertrophy. The Journal of Experimental Biology. DOI:10.1242/jeb.124495 will help you hit new heights while you’re restarting your workout routine.
If you have a lot of fat tissue, your body will always have a source of energy it can burn to fuel muscle.
Even though the exact number of calories and macronutrient proportions will depend on your weight and body fat percentage, we can surely say that the calorie deficit during the body recomposition should be much smaller than during the average restrictive diet.
To stay in a caloric deficit to lose body fat and to get enough calories for proper performance in the gym, calorie cycling is applied. This approach means that you should stay in a small calorie deficit of about 10% during your “rest days” and add 15% to your maintenance calories during “workout days.”
Workout days are only those when you’ve actively lifted weights and followed your workout program. During your resting days, you can add to your schedule some cardio, like long walks or biking. Refrain from marathon runs or high-intensity interval training during your off days, otherwise, your body will have no time to recover.
On the one hand, studies state that you don’t need more than 0,8 g of protein per kg if you want to gain muscle, however other research4Longland T. M., Oikawa S. Y., Mitchell C. J., et al. (2016, March). Higher Compared with Lower Dietary Protein during an Energy Deficit Combined with Intense Exercise Promotes Greater Lean Mass Gain and Fat Mass Loss: A Randomized Trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. DOI:10.3945/ajcn.115.119339 shows that people who succeeded5Campbell B. I., Aguilar D.., Conlin L. (2018, November). Effects of High Versus Low Protein Intake on Body Composition and Maximal Strength in Aspiring Female Physique Athletes Engaging in an 8-Week Resistance Training Program. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. DOI:10.1123/ijsnem.2017-0389 in body recomposition consumed 2.5 g of protein per kg a day.
While planning your meals, remember that your body can’t utilize6Yasuda J., Tomita T., Arimitsu T. (2020, April 22). Evenly Distributed Protein Intake over 3 Meals Augments Resistance Exercise-Induced Muscle Hypertrophy in Healthy Young Men. The Journal of Nutrition. DOI:10.1093/jn/nxaa101 the large portion of protein at once, so it’s better to eat your protein with all meals throughout the day and not in one sitting.
Some studies7Ko G. J., Obi Y., Tortoricci A. R., et al. (2017, January). Dietary Protein Intake and Chronic Kidney Disease. Current Opinion on Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. DOI:10.1097/MCO.0000000000000342 also show that too high protein intake can lead to kidney stones and other health problems, so consult your doctor before you opt for a high-protein diet. Your gastrointestinal tract can also be distressed by higher levels of protein in your diet, so always analyze how you feel and never harm your body for the sake of a more slender physique.
I’m 5’3” (162 cm) weighing 132 pounds (60 kg). I haven’t worked out for almost two months because of the lockdown restrictions and a lot of stress I’ve been through during these months.
Now, let’s get to my macros.
As a person who wants to build muscle and lose fat at the same time, I will follow scientifically-based recommendations and consume 2.4 g of protein per 1 kg of my bodyweight. This will be 144 of protein per day which will compose 32% of my training days calorie intake and 37% of my resting day’s calories.
Females are recommended to eat 0.8-1 g of fat per 1 kg of body weight a day. I choose the lower value of the range as I want to add more carbs to my diet. So, daily I will consume 48 g of fat which will compose 24% of my training days’ calorie intake and 28% of my resting day’s calories. This might sound too much, but practice shows that my body reacts badly to low-fat diets.
This means that I can take the rest of 40% of my calories from carbs. Carbs will help me boost the efficiency of my training sessions and hopefully will help me become stronger.
A 32-year old woman with about 25% of body fat, 5’3’’ tall, who weighs 132 pounds will need for a body recomposition:
On training days:
On resting days:
Remember that the correct diet is always a key to your body changes.
For a successful body recomposition, you will need a weight-lifting program. Hire a trainer if you’re a novice to make sure that you do some basic movements the right way. All in all, what’s required for muscle growth is progressive overload intensity training, when you increase reps or weight lifted week by week. If you don’t feel like lifting weights is something you want to do, try out some other activities that make your body work!
For example, you can try out cross-fit. These are strength and conditioning fitness regimens that will fit you both if you’ve just started working out and if you’ve been years into fitness. Another great workout plan is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This is a martial art that develops your muscles and makes you stronger. Whatever program you choose, just remember pushing yourself a bit harder while aiming at simultaneously losing fat and building muscle. On the contrary, cardio is not that necessary during the body recomposition workout protocol.
It’s more difficult to track your progress as your weight might not change. Use tape measurement at the same spots and take photos of your progress. And of course, enjoy the new strength you develop!
When building muscle and losing fat at the same time, your body makes tremendous efforts! It needs at least some good amount of sleep to recover. The connection between reduced sleep and weight gain is proven8Patel S. R., Malhotra A. White D. P., et al. (2006, November 15). Association between Reduced Sleep and Weight Gain in Women. American Journal of Epidemiology. DOI:10.1093/aje/kwj280 by science, so if you’re serious about body recomposition, try to have at least eight hours of sleep per day.
Body recomposition is not an average diet. If you want to move faster, just cut your calories and add cardio to your regimen. However, by choosing this path, you won’t be able to build a nicely toned muscle frame that makes all the difference when it comes to how your body looks and not how much it weights. Remember that 10% caloric deficit on your resting days is enough for steady recomposition.
Multiple supplements are popular in the fitness industry, and protein powder is among them. Animal-based protein powders are whey and casein, both usually derived from cow's milk. Gym athletes also drink plant-based proteins shakes, made frim soy, hemp, pea or rice protein. This sport protein drinks may come in handy when other high-quality protein sources are not available for you. But don't make protein shakes your primary head of protein. You can replace them with canned tuna, chicken breasts, and egg whites in your ration.
Body recomposition takes time. Deal with it and get ready for a marathon, not a sprint. We can’t emphasize enough the importance of consistency. Stay true to your workout and nutrition plan, and in ten to twelve weeks you will see amazing results.
Body recomposition is a restrictive eating and workout regimen. To make it happen, you have to count calories rigidly and push yourself hard in the gym. This is not a sustainable way of healthy eating but a regimen restricted in time. As it is high in protein and includes intense physical activity, you should consult your doctor before you try following it.
Article updated: July 12, 2022
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