Table of contents

  1. Fat burning and weight gain at the same time
  2. Study 1
  3. Study 2
  4. Study 3
  5. Study 4
  6. Research 1
  7. Research 2
  8. Research 3
  9. Research 4
  10. Findings
  11. Opinion

Fat burning and weight gain at the same time

Burning fat and gaining muscle mass at the same time is the most common dream of beginning bodybuilders and, perhaps, the most frequent question of readers. For 90% of people, it is unattainable without the use of anabolic steroids and other powerful pharmacological agents. The remaining 10% of people who are capable of this have genetically determined physiological advantages (mutation of the myostatin gene, increased secretion of growth hormone and testosterone), and they are not even looking for such articles, since they are not interested in the theoretical basis of training because they are able to achieve good results of body building without the use of complex training programs, sports nutrition and a strict diet.

Not surprisingly, most newbies fail to achieve the simultaneous burning of fat and gaining muscle mass. We need to change the strategy and act consistently:

  • Reduce the percentage of body fat to normal (about 15%) – measurements can be performed using Body Expert
  • Gain muscle mass
  • Work on the relief

A decrease in fat mass and muscle growth at the same time is possible for beginners

The leading expert in the fitness industry, Lyle McDonald, in his article Adding Muscle While Losing Fat (English) notes the ability to achieve body recomposition (as the United States calls simultaneous fat burning and muscle growth) beginners, especially those who have substantial fat reserves.

McDonald says that when people are just starting to deal with weights, their strength and muscle mass rapidly grow under any conditions. All this is explained by simple logic – newcomers who have not been trained before have an untapped potential for increasing strength and muscle mass.

Based on the observations, McDonald concludes that beginners are able to grow muscle tissue even on a calorie deficit (due to which fatty tissue is lost) – after all, their muscles had not received any stimulus for growth.
Another incident that McDonald is talking about is people returning to strength training after a long break. During the break in strength training, not only strength indices decrease in people involved in exercise, but part of the muscle tissue is also lost due to the fact that the muscles have not received a training stimulus for quite a long time to maintain their volume (not to mention growth). In addition, the percentage of body fat increases during the break for those who refuse to train. As a result, the man who for a long time refused to train, took a few steps back and thus freed up a place in an almost full jug.

Studies proving the simultaneous growth of muscle and fat reduction at start.

To begin, consider the studies that confirm that beginners (especially with a large amount of excess weight) can both grow muscles and get rid of fat.

Study №1

Back in 1993, experts from the University of Nebraska volunteered to find out whether muscle hypertrophy is possible in conditions of energy deficiency. For 3 months, scientists watched 14 obese men. Participants were divided into 2 groups of 7 people: the first was not trained, and the second group was engaged with weights.

To compare the results before and after the experiment, all participants took a biopsy (sampling a piece of tissue for further research) from the wide lateral muscle of the thigh.

Results: after 90 days, both groups lost an average of 16 kg of weight, of which 24% fell on fat free, and 76% on fat mass. However, compared with the group that did not train, the second group had a wider lateral cross-sectional area of ​​the wide lateral thigh muscle.

Conclusion: for obese newbies, along with significant weight loss and a decrease in the percentage of fat, weight training during calorie restriction can lead to muscle growth.

Study 2

In 2000, the magazine “Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism” presented an experiment by Boston experts, whose goal was to study the effect of combining low-calorie diets with an increased amount of protein and strength training on body composition in overweight people. In a randomized 12-week study, 38 overweight people participated, divided into 3 groups:
Group 1 adhered only to a calorie deficit, losing less than 20% of the weight maintenance level,
Group 2 combined the same low-calorie diet with strength training and high protein intake (1.5 g / kg of weight) using a protein supplement – casein hydrolyzate,
Group 3 adhered to the same plan as the second, but instead of casein consumed a whey protein hydrolyzate.


After 12 weeks of testing, participants from all 3 groups lost an average of about 2.5 kg of weight.
In the diet Group 1, the percentage of body fat on average decreased from 27% to 25% (-2% difference).
Group 2 (diet + workout + casein) reduced the percentage of fat on average from 26% to 18% (8% difference).
Group 3 (diet + exercise + whey protein) reduced the percentage of body fat from 27% to 23% (the difference was 4%).

As for muscle tissue, in the first group it remained unchanged, while the casein-consuming group gained an average of 4 kg of muscles, and the group that consumed whey protein gained 2 kg of muscles.

Conclusion: from this study, we can once again conclude that newcomers with excess weight are able to achieve body recomposition, especially if they consume enough protein.

Study 3

Next, we consider a study of 2011, which was conducted by scientists from McCaster University in Ontario. The goal of the researchers was to find out how daily workouts (strength and / or aerobic) and a low-calorie diet with different amounts of protein and calcium will affect the body composition in women with overweight or obesity. In a randomized study of 16 weeks duration, 90 overweight or obese women participated, divided into 3 groups:
The group with the consumption of high amounts of protein and dairy product (30% protein, of which 15% was dairy product),
The group with the consumption of moderate amounts of protein and dairy product (15% and 7.5%),
The group with the consumption of moderate amounts of protein and low amounts of dairy product (15% and <2%).

All participants were in conditions of energy deficit at the level of minus 500 kcal from the supporting level. The subjects combined aerobic and strength training, exercising 5 times a week under supervision, and doing the weekends independently. The trainings were designed in such a way that about 250 kcal was spent for one session.


All 3 groups lost an average of 4.3 kg of weight, while in the period between 8 and 16 weeks the participants of the first group (high-protein diet with a large amount of calcium) lost more fat than the rest.

Simultaneously with the loss of fat in the first group, an increase in muscle mass was observed, especially between 8 and 16 weeks.

The amount of muscle tissue in the group that consumed 15% protein with 7.5% from dairy products remained unchanged.

The group that consumed moderate amounts of protein and low in calcium did not retain, but lost on average 0.7 kg of muscle tissue.

Conclusion: a diet with a calorie deficit in combination with strength training, an adequate amount of protein and increased consumption of dairy products contributes to a more significant improvement in body composition in women, which is characterized by greater loss of visceral and subcutaneous fat, as well as an increase in lean muscle tissue. The possibility of muscle growth while losing fat from beginners with overweight is again confirmed.

Study 4

Published in the January issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition of 2016.

The purpose of the experiment: to identify how increased protein intake with a strong calorie deficit and in combination with strength training will affect body composition. The study lasted 4 weeks. 40 overweight men were divided into 2 groups of 20 people: the first consumed 1.2 g of protein, and the second 2.4 g of protein per 1 kg of weight. In addition, all participants significantly limited calorie intake: at 40% of the required to maintain weight.

Every week, all the subjects trained as follows:

  • 2 days – circular strength training for 3 sets for 10 repetitions with the last approach, performed to failure,
  • 2 cardio training of moderate and high intensity,
  • 1 test workout on a bicycle ergometer for a while
  • 1 circular plyometric workout using your own body weight.
  • Immediately after training, participants consumed a portion of whey protein.

Results: participants in the high protein intake group (despite a significant calorie deficit) gained an average of 1.2 kg of muscle mass in 4 weeks, while participants from the control group (who consumed 2 times less protein) had the amount of muscle mass almost unchanged. In addition, the group that consumed 2.4 g of protein per 1 kg of body weight lost an average of 4.8 kg of fat mass, and the control group, 3.5 kg.

In addition, the scientists noted that training of sufficiently high intensity (participants performed 3 sets of 10 repetitions in each exercise) could also make a significant contribution to the results.
Conclusion: In the short term, for overweight newbies, even with a significant calorie deficit, muscle growth is possible if high protein intake is combined with strength training.

Is it possible to simultaneously burn fat and grow muscles for those who have long been engaged in power?

In his book The Ultimate Diet 2.0, McDonald notes that as soon as people move from the novice category to the more advanced, it is extremely difficult for them to achieve body recomposition. However, the expert notes that if a person adheres to a very small energy deficit (minus 200 kcal per day from a supporting level) in combination with intensive strength training, it is possible that with tiny steps he can still grow muscles and burn fat at the same time. At the same time, Lyle stresses that at some point experienced trainees reach the point of developing muscle mass or reducing the percentage of fat in the body, at which the simultaneous burning of fat and muscle growth becomes unequivocally impossible.

Studies with experienced trainees

Of course, Lyle McDonald’s opinion is extremely authoritative (especially the expert refers to the physiology and research data), but to finally dispel the doubts of readers that recommending the body of experienced trainees is not a closed question, we turn to specific scientific data.

Research 1

In 2012, a group of scientists (Paoli et al.]) conducted an experiment, the purpose of which was to test how ketodiet (low carbohydrate diet) will affect the performance indicators of training in professional gymnasts.

The study duration of 1 month was attended by 8 professional artistic gymnasts weighing about 70 kg. During the experiment, the athletes maintained their usual training volume, devoting about 30 hours a week to training. The diet of the subjects consisted of products such as beef, veal, poultry, fish, ham, eggs, Parmesan. Athletes also ate raw and cooked green vegetables, which were consumed without restriction. The total amount of carbohydrates during the experiment was only 22 grams. As a percentage, BJU accounted for: 41% – protein, 54% – fats, 4.5% – carbohydrates (this is an extremely low, not recommended level of carbohydrate intake.) Participants consumed a lot of protein: based on about 2.8 grams per 1 kg body mass. In addition, athletes daily took herbal extracts, as well as 1 capsule of multivitamin.

Results: at the end of the experiment, the weight of athletes on average decreased from 69.6 kg to 68 kg (naturally with a calorie deficit), fat mass decreased from an average of 5.3 kg to 3.4 kg. Accordingly, the percentage of fat decreased from 7.6% to 5%, and muscle mass slightly, but still increased – on average from 37.6 kg to 37.9 kg. It is important to note that, unlike many other professional athletes, as a rule, gymnasts do not use anabolic steroids, so the likelihood that the growth of muscles in these experienced athletes with simultaneous fat loss was due to the use of pharmacology is cut off to a minimum.

Conclusion: scientists have concluded that athletes who adhere to ketodietes can improve body composition without adversely affecting such a dietary approach to training performance. It is worth noting that the study lasted only 30 days; In addition, scientists talk about the main drawback of the experiment, namely, about a very modest number of participants.

Research 2

The following study involving experienced trainees was presented in 2015 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. The goal of the experiment was to identify how consuming a very high amount of protein (3.4 g / 1 kg body weight) in combination with strength training using the principle of periodization will affect body composition, training performance, and the health of men and women with strength training experience. . In the experiment of 8 weeks duration, 48 men and women with an average body weight of 74.5 kg took part, which were divided into 2 groups:

The group with normal protein intake (women and men with an average strength training experience of 2.4 years) consumed an average of 2.3 g of protein per 1 kg of body weight,

The high protein intake group (women and men with average strength training experience of 4.9 years) consumed on average 3.4 g of protein per 1 kg of body weight.

Note that relative to their usual diet, compared with the first group, the group with high protein intake in general consumed significantly more protein and calories. All participants trained 5 days a week, using the principle of periodization in order to increase muscle mass and strength.

Results: in spite of the much smaller amount of calories and protein consumed compared to the second group, group 1 averaged 1.3 kg of total weight, while the second not only did not increase its weight, but also reduced it by an average of 100 grams .
Moreover, the first group on average lost significantly less fat mass – minus 0.3 kg versus minus 1.6 kg in the group with high protein intake. In percentage terms, the group with normal protein intake reduced the percentage of fat mass by an average of 0.6%, while the group with high protein intake reduced the percentage of fat by an average of 2.4%. Also, both groups gained 1.5 kg of muscle mass.

Despite the results obtained, this study does not give an absolute answer to the question whether people with experience in strength training are able to grow muscles and burn fat at the same time.
Researchers mention the individual (genetic) component in response to training and eating habits. For example, in both groups there were people who gained up to 7 kg of lean mass and lost up to 4 kg of fat. There were also participants who were losing muscle and gaining fat. This once again confirms the idea that each of us is individual – someone is able to achieve body recomposition even after several years of strength training, but not to others.

Research 3

We also note that a year earlier, a group of scientists led by the same researcher José Antonio conducted an almost identical study. The only difference was that people with more impressive experience in strength training took part in it (on average, 8.9 years); They also did not use the principle of periodization during the experiment and took 1.8 g or 4.4 g of protein per 1 kg of body weight.
As a result, scientists found out that the group with lower protein intake gained both lean (1.3 kg) and fat mass (0.3 kg), while the group that consumed 4.4 g of protein got rid of 0.2 kg of fat mass. and added 1.9 kg fat free. However, again, the organization of the study left much to be desired.

Research 4

In conclusion, we present another study in which professional athletes participated. In this case, the scientists set out to study how soft (on average minus 469 kcal / day) or sharp (minus 791 kcal) energy deficit in combination with strength training will affect body composition, strength and power in professional athletes.

At the end of the experiment, both groups of participants significantly reduced the percentage of body fat, while a group with moderate calorie deficit increased muscle mass by 1.7-2.5%, whereas for a group with a sharp deficit, the number of muscles remained almost the same as before research.

24 professional athletes took part in the experiment, however they were football players, volleyball players, hockey players, tae kwondoists, cyclists, gymnasts, biathletes, track and field athletes and other athletes, but not athletes-athletes.
Note that the specificity of the above sports does not imply compulsory (and regular) exercises with barbells and simulators, so it can be assumed with a high degree of probability that they did not use their potential for muscle growth to a significant extent.
As we see, with experienced trainees everything is much more complicated – there is little research, and they all leave more questions than answers. However, the trend is noticeable.


In general, we can conclude that the simultaneous burning of fat and the growth of muscle mass is possible both for beginners and for people who have taken a long break in strength training.

As for experienced trainees, the question here is rather open than closed: it’s impossible to say 100% that they can grow muscles and get rid of fat mass at the same time, however, the assertion that it’s impossible to recompose a body to experienced trainees is not quite are correct.

Judging by the data and comments of scientists, in the future it will be necessary to conduct at least one long-term study in a clinical setting (where participants will be under the strict supervision of scientists) with a good selection of experienced trainees to clearly answer the crucial question of whether people who have passed beginner, at the same time and grow muscles, and get rid of fat?

Those who most likely cannot count on simultaneous fat burning and muscle growth are people who have reached their ceiling in muscle growth and a very low percentage of body fat. Notice that in this material we only presented the available scientific data and the opinions of recognized experts, and not just unreasonably tried to undermine the established opinion that experienced athletes cannot grow muscles and burn fat at the same time. We continue to wait for well-designed studies, which will purposefully study the issue of body recomposition from experienced trainees.


In 2014, the Korean Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology published a study showing that participants in the experiment who took ursolic acid as an additive and regularly exercised in the gym for 8 weeks gained an average of 1.17 kg of muscle mass and lost 3 kg of fat.

Even more impressive results were announced in the journal “Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism” in July 2013. In particular, scientists studied the effects of testosterone injections on body fat in the body of non-exercising men. All participants in the experiment sat on the same diet, the energy value of which amounted to 35.82 kilocalories and 1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. That is, a 100-pound man consumed 3582 kilocalories and 130 grams of protein. After 20 weeks, participants in the experiment who injected testosterone 300 mg and 600 mg per week increased dry muscle mass by 10 and 17%, respectively, while reducing the total amount of adipose tissue by 10%.

Such studies are very, very much and none of the scientists have ever been surprised by the fact that the composition of the body has changed, which is expressed in the growth of lean muscle mass and fat loss. This is normal, it is natural for the human body and especially for the physically active person. It is only necessary to understand that such changes are possible only within certain, rather limited limits. Needless to say, when a person hits radically a mass set, eating a lot of extra calories, then there can be no talk of any fat loss. A similar situation with the “drying”. Trying to lose 10 kg of fat per month, it is unlikely that with the level of energy deficit necessary for such a result, we can also increase the “meat”. But the fact remains. It is possible to grow muscles and burn fat at the same time. Under certain conditions, on a limited scale.

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