Can You Gain Muscle and Burn Fat at the Same Time?

Guess what? Both are true… To an extent. Did I confuse you yet? Let’s dive in a little deeper.

Staff Writer
Staff Writer
5
 min read
July 5, 2022

Have you ever wondered if it’s possible to gain muscle and burn fat at the same time? It would be nice, right? But is it realistic?

There has been much debate over this topic for many years, with all sides of the argument providing valid points that, while they make sense, aren’t necessarily accurate. In this article, we will dive into both sides of the discussion and provide you with the truth if it’s possible to gain muscle and burn fat at the same time, and what the research shows.

You Either Bulk or Cut — You Can’t Do Both?

You’ve probably heard that statement before. And while it’s impossible to be in a caloric surplus and deficit at the same time, that doesn’t mean you need to pick or choose one or the other when looking to gain muscle. 

Sure, the statement that you need to be in a caloric surplus will help fast-track your results while bulking to put on size, but you are also at risk of putting on body fat along with lean muscle mass.

Then on the other side of the equation, you have people in a deficit saying that you can’t gain muscle while cutting and that being in a caloric deficit is only good for burning body fat (at the risk of also breaking down some lean muscle mass in the process).

Guess what? Both are true… To an extent. Did I confuse you yet? Let’s dive in a little deeper.

What is Needed for Muscle Growth?

People seem to overcomplicate the muscle-building process or think they need to eat everything in sight to “feed the muscles” and help them grow. 

There are four main components you need to build muscle:

  1. Protein
  2. Energy
  3. Water
  4. Muscle Stimulation

Clearly, you can have all four of those during a cut or a bulk. So, essentially, it’s absolutely possible to gain muscle and cut fat at the same time, assuming you have those three key components while in a caloric deficit. This even has its own term — body recomposition. 

As long as you provide the muscle with enough stimulation to cause micro-tears in the muscle fibers (hypertrophy), adding protein and water components can help with muscle recovery and growth. We all have enough body fat stored away that, regardless of our body fat percentage, our body will have enough energy to break down the protein into amino acids and then shuttle them out to the muscles to start repairing and promote the rebuilding process.

Body Recomposition is the BEST of Both Worlds

Being able to gain muscle and burn fat at the same time is a result that many people strive to achieve. What’s even better is that there is no gender bias with recomping.

A study was conducted that found that men who were in a 40% deficit but resistance-trained were able to gain muscle and burn fat at the same time. Likewise, another study showed that women who were consuming a high-protein diet while weight training added muscle while shedding body fat.

What the research shows is that you don’t have to bulk or cut in cycles, you can gain muscle and burn fat at the same time by implementing a body recomp strategy to your nutrition and training regimen.

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There's too much BS in the fitness industry. We decided to stop watching, get off the sidelines, and start writing our own headlines.

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