Can you build muscle and lose fat at the same time?

As a dietitian and personal trainer, I get asked this question ALL the time.

And the answer is YES, absolutely!

The following 6 steps explain how you can accomplish this goal.

1. Decide which goal is the most important to you- building muscle or losing fat?

Even if you want to gain muscle and burn fat simultaneously, it will be necessary to know which goal is the most important during the process.

  • If you are already lean (18-22% body fat for females, 8-12% body fat for males or leaner), your primary goal should be to build muscle
  • If your body fat is higher (28-30%+ for females, 18-20% for males), your primary goal should be to lose fat.
2. Determine caloric maintenance, caloric surplus, or caloric deficit.

A maintenance caloric intake is the calories your body needs to maintain your weight. If you are already lean, you will need a daily caloric surplus of 5-25% added to your maintenance calories. If your primary goal is to lose fat, you will need a 10-25% caloric deficit. For moderate body fat percentage (22-28% for females, 12-18% for males), it may be best to consume a maintenance caloric intake.

3. Calculate your macronutrient intake.

Begin with calculating your protein intake by using a sliding scale of 1.2-1.6 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass (LBM). The leaner you are, the closer you should be to 1.6 grams/pound LBM. The more body fat you have, the closer you should be to 1.2grams/pound LBM. Next, fat intake can be calculated using a sliding scale of 35-20% of your total caloric intake. The leaner you are, the closer you should be to 20%. The more fat you have, the closer you should be to 35%. Lastly, fill in the remaining calories with carbohydrates.

4. Prioritize progressive weight training.

You can be doing everything perfect nutritionally, but if you are not challenging yourself with weight training that includes progressive overload and proper technique, you will develop little to no muscle mass.

5. Monitor progress.

One of the best methods to measure progress is through taking progress pictures regularly. Caloric and macronutrient intake will need to be adjusted according to results.

6. Enhance results.

Progress can be optimized in multiple ways, such as adequate sleep, proper nutrient timing (e.g., pre-and post-workout meals), and supplementation.


Continue to follow the MegaFit Meals blog post for details on these topics and other strategies to achieve optimal results!