There’s much debate over this controversial topic: how to eat to lose fat and build muscle at the same time.
Many say it’s not possible…others disagree.
Drawing on my own experience, I can tell you that losing fat and building muscle IS possible.
Today, I’ll walk you through what I’m eating right now to lose fat and build muscle at the same time.
Also, I’ll explain the importance of carbohydrate cycling and carb timing.
If you’re unfamiliar with these terms, stick around…this is awesome stuff.
First, I’d like to draw your attention to the title of this post.
It’s all about the correct way of eating to lose fat and build muscle.
The Importance of a Plan.
If you’re following a sub-par nutrition plan and if you cheat with your diet, you will not see any results.
This is why I talk about a nutrition plan.
A plan will help you focus on your goal of eating to lose fat and build muscle.
Therefore, I’m going to discuss a topic that may not suit everyone!
It involves measuring your macros (protein, fats and carbs).
If you’re not in the habit of doing so, I urge you to at least give it a go.
Measuring macros really doesn’t take long, and you’ll quickly develop the habit.
And once you become familiar with certain foods, you’ll find it easy!
Here’s the deal:
If you’re not measuring your macros…it’s difficult to manage your outcomes.
As Peter Drucker said:
‘What gets measured, gets managed’.
But if you don’t have the time or inclination, then at least try and use rough estimates.
Simply put, having this knowledge will give you the insights about what to do and why you’re doing it.
These simple hacks will give you an advantage over most people.What gets measured, gets managed - Peter DruckerClick To Tweet
How to Lose Fat and Build Muscle.
Your fat intake will help to maximize your muscle growth hormones such as testosterone.
You can achieve this by eating healthy fats from sources such as:
- Organic eggs
- Wild salmon
- Nuts and seeds
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil.
However, to lose fat, it is absolutely vital that you are in a slight caloric deficit.
There is simply no way around this.
So keep an eye on those calorie dense foods (healthy fats).
A range of between 55g – 70g a day, depending on your size is about right.
When I’m eating to lose fat and build muscle, my other macros are in the region of 200g protein, and the same for carbs.
Daily calories come in a little over 2,000 (4 calories per gram of carbs and protein, 9 calories in a gram of fat).
Usually, I’m in favour of low carbs for general health.
But when your goal is to lose fat and build muscle… we use a different approach.
Here’s the key:
Rather than spread my carb intake throughout the day, I strategically deliver it at a time when it will produce the desired outcome…muscle growth and fat loss.
Carbohydrate Timing: The Best Time to Eat Carbs.
When you eat carbs, drastically affects how your body responds to them.
And correct carb timing will boost the hormone insulin.
Insulin is the bodies most anabolic (muscle building) hormone. Too much of the stuff though leads to fat storage.
Therefore, eating too many carbs will flood your body with this fat storing hormone.
Therefore, to maximize fat burning, you have to have periods of low insulin (zero or low carbs).
Conversely, to boost muscle building and growth, you need periods of high insulin (high carbs).When you eat carbs, drastically affects how your body responds to themClick To Tweet
Split Your Day Into Fat Loss & Muscle Growth.
Here’s the cool part:
Each day, you’re going to have a period of fat loss and one of muscle growth.
Let’s assume, like me, you work out in the evening.
During the day (12-14 hours), you want a low insulin environment.
You achieve this by cutting out carbs and eating predominantly protein and healthy fats.
This will keep your insulin levels low and leverage your body’s ability to burn fat!
Your period of high insulin will be post-workout.
This is your ‘anabolic window’.
Post-workout, your body is in a very receptive state to use the insulin spike from a high carb hit to build muscle and lose fat.
I typically eat around 160 grams of carbs. That’s roughly 80% of my daily intake.
As you can see, this is very much a hormonal strategy than a caloric one.
Hidden Benefits of Carb Timing.
Carb timing will also boost leptin.
Leptin is the satiety hormone…it makes you feel full. This is great news for those wishing to eat less.
A hidden benefit of leptin is that it also signals the body to speed up the metabolism so you burn even more calories.
Related: Do You Know the Proven Secret Powers of these 12 Top Health Foods?
What is Carb Cycling?
It’s important not to eat the same amount of carbs each day. This is what’s called ‘carb cycling’.
High carb days allow you to satisfy cravings and help adhere to our eating plan when carbs are low.
You’ll also benefit from the muscle building effects of the extra insulin release.
Low Carb Phase.
Low carb days keep our bodies more sensitive to the effects of insulin.
Therefore, by eating fewer carbs and keeping insulin levels low, your body will respond to the positive muscle building effects of insulin more readily.
My low carb days fall on my rest day when I don’t work out (no anabolic window). My carbs will hover around the 50g level.
I’ll keep my protein high to keep amino acids in my system but my insulin levels will be low all day.
During 4 or 5 days a week, I’ll stick to the levels mentioned above: 200g of carbs. These are my medium days.
High Carb Phase.
My high carb intake will usually account for just one day. I’ll ramp up my carbs close to 400g.
This is a lot of extra calories so I’ll typically eliminate all fat for the day. In this way, my calorie intake remains about the same.
I may also reduce my protein amounts but only by 20 or 30 grams.
Furthermore, this strategy is the ideal chance for you to boost any weak body parts or to train heavy.
The high carb hit delivers an insulin spike that drives amino acids into your muscles.
therefore, if you want to boost any lagging body parts, this is the way to go!
As a result, this one strategy alone, allowed me to add an inch to my calves and arms.
Anyway, I hope this talk of hormones all made sense?
- Eat a high carb meal immediately after your workout (roughly three-quarters of your daily intake).
- Keep carbs extremely low for the remainder of the day while eating lots of protein and moderate amounts of healthy fats.
- This strategy allows us to hack our anabolic hormones to leverage muscle growth and fat loss.
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Cool article. I like the idea that you plan your ‘eating day’… something that I’ve never been good at! But some great tips here. Love the site…
Hi Sean. Glad I could help. I’ve noticed a common theme among most successful dieters: they all attribute planning as key to their fast weight loss success. Planning is a great way to sidestep excuses and is a boon for when motivation is waning. Really glad you liked the post. Thanks again for reading. Kind regards, Peter.
Thank you for your informative post. I recently was trying keto-diet and than Palio-diet. They both works just great. I don’t need to loose any weight, just looking for the boost of energy. Your information about having carbs after workout makes sense, I will try to do this—just curious about the result. Thanks again for the idea for the future research..
Hi Olina. Glad you liked the post. It’s great to see that you’re experimenting with different eating plans. Glad they both worked out for you. Sometimes a new approach can provide sufficient novelty and motivation to keep the momentum going. Having carbs after a workout is something bodybuilders have known about for decades. It’s an amazing way to build muscle. It may sound like a dichotomy, but building muscle is vital for anyone trying to lose weight and needn’t look unfeminine. Muscle is ‘metabolically’ active, meaning it will burn fat, simply by sitting still! Peter
There is an abundance of helpful information which we can all apply into our lives. You definitely know what you’re doing!
I think it’s true that we all need a nutrition plan because otherwise, how do we know we if we’ll get results.
Hi Lawrence. You’re absolutely right, results need to be measured and a plan is one of the best ways to achieve this. So pleased you found the post useful. Stay strong, Peter.
Great post Peter.
I think your spot on with the importance of measurements and timing of your carb intake. Building muscle while losing fat takes a lot of discipline but following your advice on this post will help you achieve it.
Hi Darren. Thanks for reading. You’re right, eating to lose fat and build muscle at the same time is not without its challenges! Therefore, I designed the post to be as close to a step-by-step guide with pretty specific instructions hoping it would help readers achieve their goals. Regards, Peter.