One of the most common questions we get is, "How can I gain muscle while losing fat?"
If you read our previous article on gaining muscle, you know I like to use an equation for gaining muscle. Gaining muscle = heavy weights + surplus of calories (primarily protein). There's no way around it, lift heavy shit, and take in extra calories to stimulate muscle growth. How much protein you need to consume is something we'll cover in a future article.
There lies the problem, if you take in extra calories, you're going to have a slight increase in fat. This inevitable fat gain can be reduced by limiting the surplus calories to 500 extra calories a day (over your maintenance level). Contrary to popular belief, you can't turn fat into muscle.
Now for the good stuff, if you're trying to lose fat simultaneously, you're going to have to get a little more scientific. During your non-training days, you're going to need to be at a calorie deficit. I recommend being at least 500 calories under your average daily maintenance level. The best way to accomplish this is through intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is exactly what it sounds like. You want to consume the majority of your calories around your training ie: on your training days. On your off days, you will fast to burn fat. (We'll do an in-depth article about intermittent fasting).
Of course the next question is, "How do I figure out my daily maintenance level?" The best way to do so is to create a food log and monitor your weight for a week. If your weight stays the same, average out your total caloric intake for that week and that's your daily maintenance level.
Now this example is really for the sake of the argument. Ideally you would lose fat first, then work to gain muscle with minimal fat gain, then reduce your fat while maintaining your muscle mass.
We kept this brief on purpose as we'll go into each subject further. If you have any questions, leave a comment below. We'll touch more on this subject.