There's an ancient Chinese saying: "He who chases two rabbits catches neither." One of the most common obstacles blocking the way to reaching a goal is setting two goals that are in conflict. In the case of fat loss, the most common conflicting goal is trying to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. It's common to see a large decrease in body fat accompanied by a slight increase in lean body mass. It is also common to see a large increase in lean body mass accompanied by a slight decrease in body fat. But one thing you will almost never see is a large increase in lean body mass and a large decrease in body fat simultaneously. It is physiologically impossible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same precise moment in time. In order to lose fat you need a calorie deficit. To gain lean body mass you need a calorie surplus. One process is catabolic and one is anabolic. Therefore, there are big differences in the types of nutritional programs you need to achieve each of these contrasting goals.
Over a period of weeks or months it is certainly possible to see a net gain in muscle and a net decrease in body fat. However, that is the result of alternating back and forth between short periods of caloric deficit with short periods of caloric surplus (aka, the zig-zag" method). This is the most difficult of all the goals and it is a slow and inefficient process. You are compromising your results in both departments if you set muscle gain and fat loss as simultaneous goals. Advertising for supplements and weight loss products has brainwashed many people into believing that incredible gains of muscle, along with large losses of fat are commonplace - they're not! They're quite rare. When someone successfully makes large muscle gains and fat losses at the same time, usually they're merely regaining muscle they'd previously lost, they're genetic superiors or they're using performance-enhancing drugs.
Charles Glass, who has probably trained more professional bodybuilders than any other trainer advises, "While you are dieting and burning fat, you are not likely to add any more muscle. Burning fat and gaining muscle do not go together. Concentrate totally on getting lean and defined during a pre-contest phase and forsake the thought of adding muscle to what should be an already prepared framework." Although Charles was speaking of competitive bodybuilders, his advice applies to everyone: Get the fat off first, then set your new goal for gaining muscle while staying lean.
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