So you're looking to build muscle AND burn fat at the same time?
If you've done some researching before you will understand that simultaneously achieving these two goals is near impossible.
In this article I'll explain why, and how to go about achieving both of these both of these goals in an effective way without spinning your wheels.
Building muscle and losing body fat are the two main goals of anyone hitting the gym and adopting a healthier diet, and a few try to do both at the same time which dramatically reduces the results that they get.
So why can't you build muscle and burn fat at the same time?
Well, we all know that in order to stimulate new muscle growth you need to eat LOTS. Specifically and scientifically, you must consume more calories than you burn so that your body can physically build new muscle tissue.
To lose body fat, you're required to eat less calories than you burn.
See where I'm going with this?
It's simply not physically possible for you to build muscle and burn fat simultaneously. You can try, and try again.
But for the most part you will spin you wheels and achieve neither building muscle or burning fat (unless you have seriously amazing genetics and/or use steroids which we're not about here).
If you're bulking up and aiming for muscle gain, then the fact of the matter is you've got to accept a little bit of fat gain too, or if you do it really carefully remaining at roughly the same bodyfat level. You can minimize fat gains when building muscle by eating strategically, but there's very little you can do to avoid at least a little bit of a bodyfat increase when your goal is gaining muscular weight.
You can always lose that excess body fat that you have gained afterwards of course, and plus, losing fat that you have just recently gained seems to be quite easy. This part of bodybuilding is known as "cutting".
But anyway, the good thing about bulking up is that you can minimize the amount of extra fat mass that you gain along with the muscle. The next part of the article will explain how you can do just that.
So now you understand that you can't build muscle and burn fat simultaneously, let's take a look at how you can prevent yourself from gaining too much body fat whilst increasing your muscle mass.
There are two main approaches you can take to gain muscle mass:
The first approach of eating as much as you can is heavily flawed. It may work out well for some people, but for most it will result in too much excess fat. Your body can only assimilate so much muscle mass at a time and any excess calories are only going to be stored as fat.
The second approach of only eating as many calories as you need to build mass is a much more logical way to do it if you want to minimize your body fat gains. What you need to do is work out how many calories you should be eating every day according to your body weight, and then add on some extra calories to support muscle growth.
Doing it this way will reduce the amount of fat you gain along with all the muscle. So when it comes to your cutting phase you won't have much fat to burn off for you to become ripped. This is as close as you can get to build muscle and burn fat at the same time.
You may be wondering how much muscle can you realistically expect to gain, and how many calories you should be eating? These are good questions my friend.
If you're training naturally, as we recommend here at the Building Muscle Guide, you should generally expect 0.5 to 1 pound of muscle gain a week. That's assuming you're training and dieting properly.
This may be more or less depending on a few factors such as your genetics, how well you're eating, and how hard you're hitting the weights. But 1/2 to 1 pound per week seems like a reasonable goal to me.
As for how many calories you should be eating, as a general rule you should eat 300-500 calories more than you need to maintain your current weight. But first let's figure out how many calories you need for maintaining your weight.
In general it is thought that you need a daily intake of approximately 15X your bodyweight to maintain your weight. As an example, if you weigh 160 pounds then your maintenance caloric intake would be 2400 (160 x 15 = 2400).
To gain muscular weight you obviously need to increase the amount of calories you eat a day. Aiming for 18-20 times your bodyweight is common to bodybuilders.
The more you eat, the more chance you have of putting on more fat. So make sure to limit yourself to 300-500 calories over your maintenance level.
So using our above example, if you weight 160 pounds your maintenance caloric intake is 2400. If you add 300-500 calories on top of that to support muscle gain, then you would be aiming to eat between 2700 and 2900 calories every day.
Limiting yourself like this will ensure that you don't gain too much body fat along with your lean muscle gains. We all know how annoying the "cutting" phase is (burning excess fat to become ripped), so by limiting your bodyfat gains now you're doing yourself a favour because you won't have to lose as much fat later down the track.
As you are trying to bulk up you may notice you're gaining too much fat. You will either see this by measuring your body fat every now and then, or you will plain see it in the mirror.
If this happens, you should consider altering your muscle diet. Decrease your daily calories by 100-200 calories and see how that goes for a while. If you still think you're gaining too much fat, adjust your calorie count again by a couple hundred or so.
Hopefully this article has taught you why you cannot build muscle and burn fat at the same time, and how you can go about minimizing bodyfat increases. The more patient you are with your bulking phase by taking it slow and only eating enough calories to trigger muscle growth, then the less time you will have to spend burning that excess fat later on.