Supplement advertising in bodybuilding and fitness magazines has brainwashed many people into believing that gaining muscle and losing fat at the same is an easy and common occurrence (with the right "miracle" product, of course). IT'S NOT! It's quite rare.
It's common to see a large decrease in body fat with a small increase in lean body mass. It's also common to see a large increase in lean body mass with a small 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 at the same time (especially if you are drug-free or genetically average).
Because so many people can't make up their minds and they flip flop back and forth between trying to gain muscle and trying to lose fat, they sometimes end up accomplishing neither! Clear goals and a laser-like focus are critical if you want to make the most efficient use of your time, energy and effort. Make up your mind and follow through!
It's physiologically impossible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same moment in time. You can't gain muscle in a calorie deficit and you can't lose fat in a calorie surplus, it's that simple.
Here's an illustration: The average man with a daily maintenance level of 2800 calories needs approximately 500 calories extra to gain weight - a total of 3300 per day. To lose weight, he needs about a 500-calorie deficit - a total of only 2300 calories per day. The difference between these two nutrition programs is 1000 calories! They are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum.
There are several situations where gaining large amounts of muscle and losing large amounts of fat can occur at the same time:
1) When steroids and/or fat burning drugs are used.
2) In beginners, whose bodies are extremely responsive to exercise (some of the rapid muscle and strength gains in beginners can be attributed to neurological adaptations).
3) In advanced trainees after a long layoff (the muscle gain can be attributed to "muscle memory" i.e., they are not gaining new muscle, they are simply regaining what they previously lost).
4) In genetic superiors.
The most efficient method of improving body composition is to put 100% focus on your single most important goal; losing fat or gaining muscle - one or the other. If you have above average amounts of body fat, then your number one goal should be to focus on losing fat first. Then, once the fat is off, you can re-write your goals and work on gaining muscle while maintaining your new, lower body fat level.
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