Can you lose fat and build muscle at the same time?

Can you build muscle and burn fat simultaneously ?

In other words can you recompose your body and use energy from fat to drive muscle growth. The answer depends who you are. If you are:

a) Returning to training after injury or time out


b) Newbie trainer with high body fat

Then yes you probably can. If not then sadly no you probably can’t.

Let’s look at situation a)

This is a somewhat observational theory. Nonetheless, people who are returning to exercise after time off tend to get in shape quicker. I am sure there are both physiological and pragmatic reasons for this. I.e. they have previously been in shape so they know how to get in shape.

Situation b) is probably more applicable. The newbie exerciser with high body fat is in the perfect situation to build muscle and lose fat.

The perfect storm:

Factor 1: High body fat
When we have a lot of energy to store (i.e when we eat too much) fat cells become full and insulin resistant making it harder to get energy in to store (Which is why high body fat is associated with hyperglycemia/ high blood glucose and high triglyceride levels).

Factor 2: New to resistance training
Those who are new to exercise have the ability to build muscle faster and from less stimuli than an experienced trainer.

As a new exerciser begins to exercise their muscle cells become more insulin sensitive driving energy towards muscle and away from insulin resistant fat cells thus under these circumstances energy could be preferentially pushed towards muscle over fat.

However, this is likely a short honeymoon period. This is because as the individual successfully diets, loses body fat and leans out their fat cells will become less insulin resistant and more likely to take in energy to add to this as they continue to exercise their rate of muscle building will slow.

After this initial ‘honey moon’ period ( I am guessing a few weeks to a few months) even slow rates of fat loss are not going to be equal to the rate which muscle can be built.

I’m sure this doesn’t hold true for assisted trainers where concurrent fat loss and muscle gain is easier to achieve

If you want to know more about body recomposition I would recommend reading Lyle Macdonald’s work. You can find this on his aptly names website

Just Click here.