This can seem like the Holy Grail;
Is it possible to lose unwanted body fat and build great muscle at the same time?
Well, it is certainly difficult and it is impossible to achieve totally optimum performance in a calorie deficit.
In any sport, if you want to perform at your optimum level then you really want to be at calorie maintenance.
In this situation you may well still achieve some body composition changes;
You will likely lose some body fat and develop some muscle.
But, to lose any real amount of body fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit.
If you are looking to achieve both; loss of fat and good performance, then your calorie deficit needs to be very, very moderate.
Around 10 – 15% lower than your maintenance level.
For simple mathematics, if your maintenance calories are 3,000 a day then you would be looking at a deficit of 300-450 calories a day.
For a 65kg woman who trains 2 – 3 times a week, your maintenance calories may be under 2000 a day, meaning a drop of 200 – 300 calories a day or less.
Oftentimes when we want to lose weight we drop our calories through the floor.
We know that 3500 calories = 1lb of weight, so we think a 500 calorie a day deficit will give us a 1lb a week loos of body fat.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work like that.
We lose weight at different rates, from different parts of the body.
Often the areas where we want to lose fat from are the most stubborn!
We also have changes to our metabolism as we lose weight.
Our bodies become more efficient, we burn less calories performing the same tasks.
Also, if your maintenance calories are under 2000 a day, then a deficit of 500 is massive.
You run the risk of getting really hungry and finding it really difficult to perform in your exercise.
A very, very moderate deficit will mean that you will lose weight more slowly;
But, you will have energy to perform and energy to recover.
Eat 1-2 hours before and after your workouts.
This will ensure good energy for the workout, better recovery and good adaptation.
If you are doing ‘double days’ then ensure you have sufficient recovery time between the workouts.
Get in some carbohydrates between – this is when you would be looking at higher GI, faster digesting carbs.
Then get plenty of:
- Rest Days
- Long Walks
People with these goals often fall into the trap of overtraining, believing that more is better.
Less is often better!
You need to recover from the work to allow muscle adaptation.
You need to drop stress and recover to burn fat.
You need to maintain that very moderate deficit to allow you to do the processes needed and to recover.
Otherwise, you will not gain muscle mass and you will not lose body fat.
If you overtrain and under eat you will just lose muscle mass.
You will train like shit.
You will not lose body fat.
So, yes, it is possible but not optimal:
A moderate deficit only, plenty of protein, plenty of carbs and plenty of sleep.
Very regular de-load weeks.