Of course we can’t forget, by far the most important nutrition factor, the crème de la crème of body recomposition, is your Build muscle, lose fat at the same time.
That’s the dream! Unfortunately, of all things easier said than done, this certainly sits high up there within the fitness atmosphere.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible nor does it mean it’s not worth attempting. It’s just that if you do attempt to build muscle and burn fat at the same time, also known as body recomposition, it’s best you take all the necessary steps.
Can you lose fat and build muscle at the same time?
Even then, achieving meaningful results with body recomposition largely depends on your current fitness circumstances. If you’re not familiar with said circumstances or even the concept of body recomposition, I highly suggest you read the Healthline article on Body Recomposition.
If you do feel that this is the right thing for you, then let’s get started. Now, the fundamentals of body recomposition isn’t all that complicated and largely revolves around two things: Your training and your daily calorie intake. That’s it.
Of course, the approach to these two pieces is where things take a bit more thinking and effort. I’m gonna try to break it down and simplify it the best I can.
First, let’s look at training days:
In any muscle-building goal, it is without a shadow of a doubt that resistance training is 100% necessary. It is the resistance, be it calisthenics or lifting weights, that will stimulate your muscles thus support their growth.
Now, research suggests that it’s best to target each muscle at least two to three times weekly. So, that means, at the very minimum, you have to train two days per week, but it’s probably closer to three so you can better manage the training load.
Most programs are, even more, five, or six days a week, allowing you to “split” muscle groups into separate days. In any case, your training must progress in both work volume and intensity.
Work volume is the product of reps times sets times the weight you’re lifting. This number needs to continually progress. In terms of intensity, you should push your workouts close to failure, but not necessarily failure itself. Simply, it should feel difficult.
Now, for your non-training days. You can simply take a break at this time to recover and relax. Or, if you’re up for it, you can do cardio. Doing cardio helps you burn more calories; thus, hopefully, helps you burn more fat.
You can choose pretty much any cardio you enjoy, but I strongly suggest not doing taxing cardio like high-intensity interval training, as it might impact recovery thus impact the performance of your actual training days.
But that’s the gist of training. It doesn’t really stray too far from your usual resistance training programs. Where the magic really happens is in nutrition.
How many calories should you eat for body recomposition?
Well, it’s actually a mixture of all of them and it’s a good thing we talked about training first. Because how your nutrition is managed will be based on your training schedule.
Ideally, you wanna eat a bit more during your training days and a bit less or the same on your off days. Now I do say ideally because it’s not exactly necessary.
The main goal is to regularly eat close to your maintenance calories. Your maintenance calories being the number of calories you burn on a daily basis, also known as your total daily energy expenditure, or TDEE.
Anyway, the point of body recomposition is to maintain your current weight while shifting more of that weight towards muscle and away from fat. So ideally, you wanna create situations where you will best fulfill those two goals.
For training days
On training days, having more nutrients, calories will allow you to have a higher supply of energy, thus support your actual training. Plus, having more nutrients, especially protein, has shown to increase muscle growth when paired with training.
So again, ideally, it makes sense to eat more during training days to both maximize muscle growth and performance. Around a 300 to 500-calorie surplus on training days, much of it from carbs sounds like a good idea.
For non-training days
Now on off days, we’ll do the opposite, eating at a deficit for fat loss. You can opt to eat just at maintenance if you value building muscle more, but ideally, you wanna be in a deficit similar to your surplus. That is, a 300 to the 500-calorie deficit.
If you have fewer off days than you do training days, then that deficit might be slightly larger. Whatever balances out the extra calories you eat during training. Better yet, get that cardio done so you can burn more calories and not struggle so much with eating less.
And of course we can’t forget, by far the most important nutrition factor, the crème de la crème of body recomposition, is your protein intake.
Protein, in all its glory, is the definition of body recomp in a way. Your body will hardly ever store protein away as fat because of its metabolic cost and of course, protein is the main ingredient for muscle.
So, in all of your days, protein intake should remain fairly high. I usually recommend getting 1.6 to 2.3 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight for most goals.
With body recomp, I’d suggest you shoot closer to the upper end of the range. Get your protein. And before we close, one more extremely important tip is simply to be patient.
Since building muscle and burning fat at the same time is a dual approach, aka you’re trying to achieve two conflicting goals simultaneously, results will take much longer compared to just bulking or cutting. It’s also why you should first understand if this is something you truly think you should do.
To summarize, that’s to resistance train regularly while progressing in volume plus intensity, stay near calorie maintenance in your nutrition, ideally with a cycling approach, get your protein, and, be patient.
I hope this post has been helpful with your body recomping needs and feel free to share your thoughts or questions about it in the comments below.