Wanting to lose weight and gain muscles at the same time is an extremely difficult task. This is because your metabolism is divided into two different processes, catabolism and anabolism. Catabolism is focused on the breaking down of cells for energy while anabolism is the building of simple cells into more complex cells. In catabolic state, your body is burning fat and calories while in an anabolic state, you build muscle mass.
Understanding how metabolism works, you should look at losing fat and gaining muscle as two different fitness goals. By measuring your weight loss or gain and tracking your improvement with your body composition results, you can fine-tune your workout programme and nutrition to avoid unwanted fat gain and muscle loss based on what state you are at. We have listed below some steps that you can follow.
1. Decide Which Goal To Prioritise
In any fitness strategy, your first step should be figuring out your body composition measurement. Through this, you can set healthy and realistic fitness goals.
Having a goal of fat loss and muscle gain at the same time is almost impossible. That’s because your body rarely exists in both a catabolic and anabolic state at the same time. When your body is breaking down muscle through strength training and restricting calories to lose fat, you are in a catabolic state. However, it is important to note that some loss in muscle still occurs while in a catabolic state.
Meanwhile, in an anabolic state, you are working to grow and develop body tissue. If you want to gain Muscle Mass, this is the state you need to be in. Unfortunately, anabolism also has unintended side effects. Consuming more calories than you need to build Lean Body Mass may inadvertently lead to gaining fat mass.
To decide your fitness goals, take a body composition test that can break down your total body weight. Through this, you can compare your body fat percentage and muscle mass levels, helping you to choose what you should work on first.
2. Create your fitness plan
Now that you have decided which goal to achieve first, you can now start your fitness plan. If your goal is fat loss, you have to burn more calories than you take in to help your body enter a catabolic state. You can achieve this by restricting your calorie intake, consuming healthy nutrient dense food and increasing energy expenditure with some resistance training and cardiovascular exercise. You will see progress in 1-2 weeks if you are dieting and exercising properly.
If your goal is to gain Lean Body Mass, you will need to burn more calories in order to be in the anabolic state. To achieve this, you need to have extra calories for energy to get yourself in a fitness programme that concentrates on tearing muscle fibres and then rebuilding them with the extra nutrients. Make sure that you’re getting a lot of protein and other vital nutrients to rebuild those muscles. Have your body composition measured in 3-4 weeks to hopefully see a gain in Lean Body Mass, with little to no gain in Fat Mass.
3. Rotate Goals Until Satisfied
Once you achieve the first goal that you’ve set, it’s time to proceed to the next goal. The key to success is to constantly track your body composition and to understand your measurements. Without doing this, you won’t be able to optimise your fitness, causing you to spend more time in the gym and on calorie restricted diets. By adjusting your fitness programme based on your needs, you will achieve your ideal body in no time.
If you want to measure your body composition, Bodyscan can do it for you. We use the very latest, medically developed DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) technology to quickly and accurately measure the amount of body fat, lean tissue and bone in each major part of your body – arms, legs and trunk. Through this, you can set specific targets for body composition, instead of making vague statements about “losing weight” that are doomed to fail. Click here to start your fitness journey now.
No adult would admit to being stumped by the prep-school joke, “Which weighs more, a kilo of feathers or a kilo of lead?”
But the mainstream medical fraternity applies the same absurd premise every day when it uses body mass index (BMI) to determine if someone is overweight.
Because just as a kilo of feathers weighs the same as a kilo of lead (you weren’t stumped, right?), a muscle-bound bodybuilder of 90kg will weigh the same as a 90kg burger-munching couch potato.
And because BMI is based on weight and height, if the couch potato and the athlete are the same height, then at, say, 5’10” (178cm), they will have exactly the same BMI of 28, forcing the family doctor to label them both as “overweight”, which of course is absurd.
Body mass index was derived in 1832 by a Belgian statistician, Adolphe Quetelet. He established that, aside from growth spurts after birth and during puberty, our weight increases in proportion to the square of our height. So, in the main, BMI should be a good guide to how much each of us should weigh. And for most of us, it probably is.
But BMI is outdated because weight itself is outdated. We talk about people being overweight when what we really mean is they are ‘over fat’. Just about everyone looking to lose weight is actually looking to lose fat. The only people who need to lose weight are athletes competing in a particular weight class for their sport, such as boxing.
The UK’s obesity crisis is not about people being too heavy, it’s about people being too fat. (And here’s a sobering thought – in 2015/16 more than half-a-million hospital admissions recorded obesity as a factor.)
Weight is nothing more than your relationship with gravity and you cannot change the force that keeps your feet on the ground. What you can change, however, is your body composition – how much of you is fat and how much is muscle.
What most of us seek is a body composition that is low in fat (for good health, aesthetics and low risk of obesity-related diseases) and an ‘optimum’ amount of muscle (for strength, performance or a favourite sport).
The problem with BMI is it blind to the individual elements of body composition and, like weight, wraps everything up into just a single number.
It’s also not very culturally sensitive. You can imagine that, in 1832, Monsieur Quetelet didn’t have the same ethnically diverse population around him to establish his hypothesis, so BMI thresholds have since been tweaked for different ethnicities. In 2014, a University of Glasgow study of half a million Britons found the incidence of diabetes among white people with a BMI of at least 30 (the threshold defined as ‘obese’) was the same for those of South Asian background with a BMI of as little as 22 and for Chinese with a BMI of as low as 24. Twenty-two and 24 are both well inside the “normal weight” zone on the Anglo-Saxon-derived BMI.
So if we are to replace weight and BMI, what with?
Perhaps the most obvious candidate is body fat percentage and with any body composition test, it’s the single number that just about everybody wants to know.
But that is exactly the problem – it’s a single number. One number trying to take account of two components – fat and muscle.
To see where it falls short, meet Bruno, who weighs 80kg with a body fat percentage of 20%. It’s easy to work out he carries 16kg of fat.
After six months in the gym Bruno has reduced his body fat percentage to 19%. Instantly we conclude that Bruno has made very slow progress, dropping body fat by less than a kilo in six months.
The truth is Bruno made awesome progress – he put on 4kg of pure muscle and not a gram of fat.
You see? Bruno reduced his body fat percentage without any reduction in fat. That is the problem with single numbers – they mask the detail.
A much better way of assessing body composition is to measure fat and lean mass separately with (Mr Quetelet would be pleased) a fat mass index (FMI) and lean mass index (LMI). Essentially these indices tell you how much fat and muscle you carry relative to your height.
The huge advantage of FMI and LMI are that each index is completely independent of the other; your fat mass index is unaffected by muscle, and your lean mass index is not influenced by fat. Accordingly a change in either index is a guarantee of a change in, respectively, fat or muscle. That is not the case with weight, BMI or body fat percentage.
To measure and track your FMI and LMI reliably, you will need an accurate assessment of your body composition. The most reliable and precise method is a DEXA body scan. And you’re in the right place for that!
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