How in the world did Chris Pratt go from that-chubby-guy from Parks and Recreation to the jaw-dropping cover of Men’s Health? If you feel like radical weight loss transformations are reserved for E! True Hollywood Stories, we are here to convince you otherwise.
Sure, celebrities do have an unfair disadvantage: enough time and money to spend on personal trainers and food so exotic and expensive that most of us never even heard of it before. Still, even if you lack these privileges, it doesn’t mean the process of simultaneous fat loss and muscle gain should be labeled as mission impossible.
Familiarizing with the laws of thermodynamics
Whoever told you thermodynamics is the main reason gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time is impossible has probably never even read a word from the textbook, nor tried to reshape their figure. Namely, the very first law states that in order to build muscle, you must store energy – in order to lose fat, you need to burn energy; once you are in energy surplus, your body will store it – when you are in a deficit, your body will lose it.
Confused? Let us rephrase it: what happens in your body is in thermodynamics called the movement of energy, or the conversion of energy, meaning that the energy from your body cannot disappear. However, this does not mean that in order to gain muscle, you must power up your body with energy, and to lose fat, you have to be in deficit. This is because fat and protein are two completely different compartments in your body, and it directs fat and muscle independently of each other.
Cycling carbohydrate intake
First step is determining how many calories your body requires in a single day. Pick up a calculator and multiply your bodyweight with 15 (for instance, a 200-pound lifter needs about 3,000 calories).
Next step requires choosing carefully what you are going to serve on your plate. Stephen Adele, world-renewed fitness coach, recommends 40/40/20 rule – 40% of calories should come from eating protein, 40% from carbs, while the remaining 20% has to come from fats.
Fat and protein don’t cycle, but remain consistent over the course of the entire process. As calories and carbs are cycling first down and then up, your body finds itself in a short-term period of caloric deficit. At this time your fat is tapped for energy, so that when you enter a high-calorie period, that energy is used for building muscles.
Remember to train antagonist muscle groups
Supersetting means training opposing muscle groups, i.e. chest/back, biceps/triceps, and quads/hamstrings. The sets are quite intensive and it is highly recommended to rest after completing the movement on each part of the body. Nevertheless, remember that rest does not mean sitting on the bench; a superset should be followed with a minute of box squats, jumping rope, or any other activity that keeps your body moving. The idea is to deplete most of your glycogen levels, so when you move on to cardio, your body focuses only on burning fat.
Include the “big three” in your exercise routine
Squats, bench presses and deadlifts are movements that produce the most effective results in a surprisingly short amount of time. However, you need to remember that these movements are reserved for a high-carb day, since your body requires energy to endure such intense workout.
Stimulate and maximize the synthesis of protein
When you are running low on calories, you need to compensate by fulfilling daily protein needs. To build muscle tissue, your body requires energy and protein. This means that you need to introduce whey protein powder into your diet and combine it with the energy that comes from your fat mass. As a result, you will experience a simultaneous muscle growth and weight loss. We have to admit that eating whole-food meals six times a day is difficult to manage, so it is always advisable to opt for supplements that will so conveniently fill the blanks between the meals.
Finally, like a cherry on the top of the entire weight loss – muscle gain process, come bioactive peptides – they represent cleaved protein fragments which contain growth factors that are doing the heavy lifting in your muscle cells, triggering amino acids to accelerate the rate of protein synthesis. The faster the synthesis occurs, the faster the muscle will repair itself. Bioactive peptides are especially essential for those who are on a low-calorie diet, as they aid in maintaining and developing new body mass.
The bottom line
The process of losing fat while gaining muscle is a challenging one, but far from an unachievable goal. It all comes down to following several strict rules, some compromises, and a lot of pain and sweat. The success will not happen overnight, but by following a disciplined approach, you are bound to notice significant improvement in the near future.
Do you have a weight loss/muscle gain story to share with us? Please do so in the comment section.