When you first started working out, you probably saw some quick results. In all likelihood, you looked in the mirror and marveled at the immediate results you obtained. Even if the difference is only a slight one, this is very encouraging because it makes you feel like getting in shape will be easy after all.
Unfortunately, you would be wrong about that. All beginners go through an initial stage where they can lose weight and build muscle at the same time. After a few months (maybe less), you will notice that you don’t see the same kinds of quick results. This is perfectly normal, and in this article, we will help you to understand (and deal with) the problem.
What Is Body Recomposition?
Everyone knows about the importance of body composition. A body that contains too much fat is unhealthy regardless of how it may look. Not everyone knows that you can manipulate your body’s composition using simple methods. That being said, this process will not be quick or easy.
Body recomposition is the act of deliberately changing the composition of the body. Recomposition is not the same thing as weight loss. Recomposition involves losing weight and building muscle at the same time. Most people go between cycles of “bulking” and “cutting,” but we will show you that there is a way to do both at once.
Does Body Recomposition Work?
It seems that there are a lot of arguments about whether or not this method works. Taking a neutral position (as we usually do), we are forced to conclude that both sides have decent arguments. On the one hand, we were unable to find specific evidence to prove the effectiveness of this method. However, there can be no doubt that losing fat and building muscle are good things, and that is essentially all this method does. Thus, we would classify this as a good concept. Some of the claims made by its proponents might be hard to prove, but it’s hard to argue with good results.
A High-Protein Diet Is Essential
Here is a record of one study that attempted to prove the idea that you can lose weight and gain muscle at the same time. In this rigorous study, 40 men were made to engage in a month-long exercise program. During this time, they cut their dietary intake by about 40%. The only difference between the two groups was this: One group was given a high-protein diet, and the other was given a low-protein diet. They found that the high-protein group still managed to add muscle mass even while in a caloric deficit.
This result makes sense when we consider the fact that protein is more difficult for the body to process than fat. When the body “burns” the food that you eat as “fuel,” it has to use a little bit of stored caloric energy to start the fire. If we think of the metabolic processes like a fire, this analogy makes a lot of sense. And in the context of this analogy, protein is much harder to burn. Your body has to spend calories to gain calories, reducing the amount of energy stored as fat.
We should also consider the fact that a high-protein diet has been shown to increase metabolism. If we continue using our fire analogy, we would have to say that protein burns hotter and faster than other fuels. The study linked above tells us that protein-rich foods also give a greater feeling of fullness (satiety), which would undoubtedly be helpful to those who want to lose weight. The study also notes that eating too much protein can cause problems with excess acid in the kidney.
So, let’s think about this: A high-protein diet will put fewer calories into your body mass, reduce your hunger, and increase your metabolic rate. In the end, a high-protein diet is like a three-punch combination that helps you to lose weight and gain muscle at the same time, especially when combined with the method outlined below.
How To Lose Weight And Build Muscle Simultaneously
We have already told you the first step: Switch to a high-protein diet. Now, we’re going to dive a little deeper and figure out how to supercharge those body recomposition efforts. Most of the method comes down to two distinct points: A good exercise regimen and a little trick called calorie cycling. However, before you can figure out any of that, you must first figure out your body composition.
Figuring Out Your Body Composition
For our purposes, we can divide the body’s weight into two categories: Fatty mass and fat-free mass. Once we figure out one, we will know the other immediately. So, let’s go with the easy method. Put your information into this handy online body fat calculator developed by the U.S. Navy. The other method is based on the thickness of the skin folds and involves a lot of pinching with metal tongs.
So, we will use a process of elimination here. We start with 100% of our body mass and then subtract our body fat percentage. Now we have to think about the weight of our bones. On average, bones make up about 15% of the body’s total weight, so subtract that amount as well. Remember: It’s 15% of the original number, not the fat-free mass.
In like manner, we will need to subtract a little bit for the weight of our skin. Your skin is kind of like a big bag of leather in terms of its weight. It makes up about 16% of our body weight (on average). It is surprising to see that skin weighs more than bone. Thus, subtract another 16% of the original number.
The amount that remains is the total mass of your muscles and organs. The weight of the organs will vary a lot between individuals, so we can’t really subtract that weight. Still, you will end up with an approximate idea of your body composition.
Developing A Workout Schedule
You cannot build muscle without some resistance training. This may take the form of weight lifting, resistance band training, or anything else that focuses on strength. Don’t worry about aerobic exercise, as that will not be necessary. The primary purpose of aerobic exercise is to lose weight, but you will be losing weight by carefully controlling your diet. That being said, resistance training tends to reduce hunger, so that should help you to resist temptation (at least on workout days).
A workout schedule of this sort should give you plenty of extra recovery time. Recovery tends to be slower when the body has fewer nutrients with which to work. Thus, we would recommend working out no more than three times a week.
Using The Calorie Cycling Trick
There is one inherent problem with the idea of losing weight and gaining muscle at the same time. Weight can only be lost when the body is in a state of caloric deficit, meaning that it is using more calories than it eats. Muscle, on the other hand, requires a caloric surplus in order to build, since that muscle cannot be created without building materials in the form of nutrients. How can this conflict of interest be resolved?
The answer is calorie cycling, and it’s a very simple solution. The first thing you need to do is calculate your caloric maintenance number. This will be the number of calories that you must consume each day to maintain your body weight. If you are trying to lose weight, you have to stay well below this number. There’s no need to get into the calculations because you can use this online calorie calculator to get the answer easily.
On workout days, you will need to eat only the amount of calories required for maintenance. This way, you will have all the energy that your body needs to perform a stout workout and gain its benefits. At the same time, you won’t be taking any risk of weight gain. On your rest days, you need to stay as far below this number as possible. You will need to learn how to calculate calories in the food you eat, but it isn’t all that hard.
To count calories, you need to know how many calories are found in a single gram or ounce of a given food. These numbers will always be approximate, but they are the best that we can do. Here’s a list showing the caloric content for many common foods. From there, all you need is a small kitchen scale so that you can calculate the answer in terms of calories per gram.
There is some convincing evidence to show that calorie cycling is very effective for both weight loss and muscle gain. Take this study, for instance. Researchers compared a calorie cycling diet to a traditional calorie-restriction diet. In every measurable way, the calorie cycling diet blew the restriction diet out of the water.
In this test, the test subjects had the option of quitting at any time. It was hoped that their desire for greater fitness would keep them from doing so, and this was generally the case. However, some people did still quit, and the researchers found that the calorie cycling group had far fewer quitters. These results suggest that a diet of this kind is easier to continue doing over the long haul.
The Importance Of Good Tracking
Throughout this process, you will need to keep track of various metrics relating to your fitness plan. This will include your weight, body-mass index, and body fat percentage. It will also take into account your daily workout logs, caloric intake, and anything else that is related to your health and fitness goals.
We recommend that you take the simple and inexpensive step of buying a notebook to be dedicated for one purpose only. Write “fitness tracker” on the front and use it to keep track of all that information. Why do this? Very simple. By analyzing the trends in your results, you can determine if you are doing things correctly or not.
- If you find that you are losing too much weight too quickly, increase the number of carbs in your diet to compensate.
- If you find that you are still gaining weight in spite of your efforts, reduce your carb intake accordingly.
- If you are experiencing muscle loss on your rest days, you need to eat more protein.
- If your muscles are very sore on rest days, you need to stretch more. Use a full-body stretching routine both before and after a workout.
- If you are gaining weight on workout days, look for less-fatty sources of protein like beans and nuts.
- Avoid all cardio while doing body recomposition training, as it can lead to muscle loss. For this diet, it’s a bad idea.
When planning your diet, always try to balance out the fat and carbs with the protein. The combined percentage of fat and carbs should be equal to the percentage of total protein. In this way, you ensure that fat and carbs cannot make up more than half of your diet.
Although some aspects of the body recomposition method have not been sufficiently studied, there is enough related evidence for us to affirm the effectiveness of this method. At the same time, the recomposition method might not be the best for everyone. This is an exercise approach that is best suited for those with an analytical and logical mindset.
Admittedly, not everyone has this analytical mindset, so your results may vary. However, there is something to be said for a method that is based on hard science, and that is what we have here. We hope that the information contained in this article will help you on your quest toward the holy grail of ultimate fitness and that you will follow us on Facebook!
The post What Is Body Recomposition? appeared first on Gaspari Nutrition.