3

votes

Lose fat or build muscle first...... or both?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created November 16, 2011 at 8:24 PM

I'm wondering if I should lose fat or build muscle first, since the calore requirments for each task are conflicting. I'm currently 18 years old at 6'2" and 180 lbs. My body fat is around 14%, but I have yet to test it exactly. I am currently lifting 3 times a week and following a 5x5 program.

I have heard many conflicting ideas on which to do first, such as:

  • Build muscle first because it is easier to burn fat later.

  • Lose fat first because it regulates hormones for building muscle.

  • Building muscle with a calorie deficit will use your fat for a calore surplus, resulting in fat loss and muscle gain at the same time.

Is there any studies or facts behing these ideas? What should I do first? Is it age specific? Is all of this possible on a paleo diet? I would love to hear people's ideas.

Thanks :)

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on November 26, 2011
at 11:30 AM

The Quilt, your latest blog talks about leptin and fetuses. Do you have a link to the entry you mentioned?

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on November 26, 2011
at 11:19 AM

You don't have to go low carb. LeanGains is one proven way to gain muscle without fat gain. Google it.

B124653b19ee9dd438710a38954ed4a3

(1634)

on November 26, 2011
at 10:56 AM

Daniel - By growth I didn't mean height. Hell I hit 6'1" at 14 and haven't grown since. Just that he should not waste the hormones which are available for building muscle. Though with those hormones he could likely cut down fairly quickly without wasting much muscle. So fair point.

25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on November 26, 2011
at 10:09 AM

1) An 18 year-old male with 14% bodyfat is hardly going to "stunt his growth" by getting down to 8-10% bodyfat. While dieting, some energy will come for bodyfat, that's all. 2) Even if this were the case, 6'2" is about the most socially advantageous height anyway, if surveys on such things can be believed.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on November 18, 2011
at 12:54 PM

@Connor read my latest blog.....it is all there in excruciating detail.

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on November 17, 2011
at 06:43 PM

Conn0r, that's usually how they do it.

368568eb91f1b58d2f52c9c566d331b5

(182)

on November 17, 2011
at 03:16 PM

The easiest way I've found to lose fat is to fast. A lot of people have a hard time with it, but it works like a charm. I'll have nothing but coffee/tea some broth and a few hard-boiled eggs all day. (plus bcaa's so my body doesn't start catabolizing muscle) Walking instead of lifting, keep occupied so hunger doesn't get the best of you, extra sleep, etc.

7b11ed525ffa23bc7257684e27488a6a

(366)

on November 17, 2011
at 02:28 PM

Agreed. I was able to do both at the same time using strength training, ample protein and slight calorie deficit. I measured body fat with bioimpedence device and calipers. Consistent losses of fat showed while scale did not move.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 17, 2011
at 12:13 PM

The challenge with simultaneous mass gain/fat loss is that you're trying to do things that require very different conditions. Mass gain requires energy excess, fat loss requires energy deficit. Careful nutrient/training timing can result in the appearance of concurrent growth and fat loss.

25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on November 17, 2011
at 07:28 AM

Agreed. If you are relatively inactive aside from lifting, try for 1800-2200 kcal/day and 150-200g protein/day. As you probably know, 5 reps is likely to be too low for optimal hypertrophy for many movements--I'd suggest trying 75-80% of 1RM, which may be anywhere from 4 reps to 20+ depending on the movement...

1586db0f16b2cef51ee4e71ab08ad1a2

(965)

on November 17, 2011
at 05:30 AM

Yeah, 100g of carbs. Sorry for the confusion.

8eade6b270dc874843f74fa599fa8754

(163)

on November 17, 2011
at 05:28 AM

Would cutting back on carbs (other then post-workout) help prevent fat gain when trying to add mass?

3193ead7a301b741aafa193c4476edea

(213)

on November 16, 2011
at 11:13 PM

Low carb, except PWO. Starchy carbs like sweet potatoes work great here. If you're doing the strong lifts program, just keep doing that, make sure to eat lots PWO, and eat when you're hungry.

8eade6b270dc874843f74fa599fa8754

(163)

on November 16, 2011
at 11:06 PM

This is what I thought, but how is this done? How do I train and how do I eat?

3193ead7a301b741aafa193c4476edea

(213)

on November 16, 2011
at 10:13 PM

Agreed...don't need a calorie deficit to lose fat

3193ead7a301b741aafa193c4476edea

(213)

on November 16, 2011
at 09:45 PM

1 pound = 100g ??

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4101)

on November 16, 2011
at 08:42 PM

nicely worded Question.

7d64d3988de1b0e493aacf37843c5596

(2861)

on November 16, 2011
at 08:31 PM

Mark Sisson had a post once where I think he said that mainly only former athletes are that efficient at doing both losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time. I think doing the muscle route first would be the easiest for me, but I think it really depends more on what you want to do first - get leaner or get more muscular.

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10 Answers

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2
1586db0f16b2cef51ee4e71ab08ad1a2

(965)

on November 16, 2011
at 09:25 PM

Gain then cut. Although I don't have much in terms of references, here is my (personally) most effective method:

  • Eat a lot and lift a lot until you're about 15% body fat. Maybe a little higher for your first run. Eat clean, too, as in avoiding grains and legumes. If you're doing 5x5, you're likely lifting three days a week. On those days, eat a good amount of safe starches post-workout, such as a pound or more of sweet potatoes alongside other meats and veggies. A pound of sweet potatoes is ~100g, or 400 calories, so you can have a bit more and be perfectly safe. It's important to supply plenty of carbs so your muscles can replace glycogen, amongst other things (including staving off gluconeogensis). On non-lifting days, try not to exceed 100-150g of safe starches, but don't feel bad about eating them.
  • Once you're about 15%, cut back on starches and make SURE you go for plenty of walks in addition to lifting. For me, walking is the most important aspect of cutting fat. Also reel back your starches to between 50-100g and experiment with intermittent fasting. I typically wake up, do some body weight exercises, make some coffee, go for a walk, shower, then go to work... and not eat until noon-1ish. This works well for me as I'm used to it and never hit those hunger pangs. It's also nice/interesting to occasionally dip in and out of ketosis.

You'll cut weight really easily. You can put on a pound of weight a week--half of it muscle, half fat--and be perfectly fine. Cutting down on the fat is easier than trying to "balance" lean gains, unless you adhere to Lean Gains... which is sort of expensive with all the BCAA you'd be downing.

Anyone have any other ideas on tips for losing fat?

368568eb91f1b58d2f52c9c566d331b5

(182)

on November 17, 2011
at 03:16 PM

The easiest way I've found to lose fat is to fast. A lot of people have a hard time with it, but it works like a charm. I'll have nothing but coffee/tea some broth and a few hard-boiled eggs all day. (plus bcaa's so my body doesn't start catabolizing muscle) Walking instead of lifting, keep occupied so hunger doesn't get the best of you, extra sleep, etc.

3193ead7a301b741aafa193c4476edea

(213)

on November 16, 2011
at 09:45 PM

1 pound = 100g ??

1586db0f16b2cef51ee4e71ab08ad1a2

(965)

on November 17, 2011
at 05:30 AM

Yeah, 100g of carbs. Sorry for the confusion.

3
B124653b19ee9dd438710a38954ed4a3

(1634)

on November 17, 2011
at 11:54 AM

You are 18. Take advantage of your Adolescence growth potential before it runs out!

Translation: Gain muscle! At your age the rules are different. Most of the supplements and tricks of the fitness industry are an attempt to emulate what you have naturally right now.

For the rest of us Dan John's advice to his athletes may apply: Lean out first!

I found this quote of his amusing:

How do you lean out? I think having you walk the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine consuming only protein and fats would drive down your body fat levels. You might as well walk barefoot, too, to regain the strength in your feet, toes, and ankles. Next, you'd move to a warm, sunny place and begin the serious training.

25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on November 26, 2011
at 10:09 AM

1) An 18 year-old male with 14% bodyfat is hardly going to "stunt his growth" by getting down to 8-10% bodyfat. While dieting, some energy will come for bodyfat, that's all. 2) Even if this were the case, 6'2" is about the most socially advantageous height anyway, if surveys on such things can be believed.

B124653b19ee9dd438710a38954ed4a3

(1634)

on November 26, 2011
at 10:56 AM

Daniel - By growth I didn't mean height. Hell I hit 6'1" at 14 and haven't grown since. Just that he should not waste the hormones which are available for building muscle. Though with those hormones he could likely cut down fairly quickly without wasting much muscle. So fair point.

2
Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on November 16, 2011
at 09:44 PM

Both can be done at same time.

3193ead7a301b741aafa193c4476edea

(213)

on November 16, 2011
at 10:13 PM

Agreed...don't need a calorie deficit to lose fat

8eade6b270dc874843f74fa599fa8754

(163)

on November 16, 2011
at 11:06 PM

This is what I thought, but how is this done? How do I train and how do I eat?

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on November 18, 2011
at 12:54 PM

@Connor read my latest blog.....it is all there in excruciating detail.

3193ead7a301b741aafa193c4476edea

(213)

on November 16, 2011
at 11:13 PM

Low carb, except PWO. Starchy carbs like sweet potatoes work great here. If you're doing the strong lifts program, just keep doing that, make sure to eat lots PWO, and eat when you're hungry.

25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on November 17, 2011
at 07:28 AM

Agreed. If you are relatively inactive aside from lifting, try for 1800-2200 kcal/day and 150-200g protein/day. As you probably know, 5 reps is likely to be too low for optimal hypertrophy for many movements--I'd suggest trying 75-80% of 1RM, which may be anywhere from 4 reps to 20+ depending on the movement...

7b11ed525ffa23bc7257684e27488a6a

(366)

on November 17, 2011
at 02:28 PM

Agreed. I was able to do both at the same time using strength training, ample protein and slight calorie deficit. I measured body fat with bioimpedence device and calipers. Consistent losses of fat showed while scale did not move.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on November 26, 2011
at 11:30 AM

The Quilt, your latest blog talks about leptin and fetuses. Do you have a link to the entry you mentioned?

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on November 26, 2011
at 11:19 AM

You don't have to go low carb. LeanGains is one proven way to gain muscle without fat gain. Google it.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 26, 2011
at 09:56 AM

I suggest you to lose the fat first. You can also build your muscle at the same time. Their is no problem at all. I have read an article recently that may help you to lose your weight. Here is it.... how to lose weight in 2 weeks

0
33eae4fd8b255252902c6479c0a6fa2e

on November 17, 2011
at 02:59 PM

Get lean. Then stay lean and build muscle (lean muscle). Old-school body builders do the BULK-LEAN cycle. Not so sure it fits so well for the rest of humanity.

Check out http://www.leangains.com/2010/04/leangains-guide.html Martin has some great stuff.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 17, 2011
at 12:13 PM

Well, I guess combining workouts is the key to get a quick result. And don't eat fast foods. Fast food calories are too high and have adverse effect on our metabolism process.

0
5b69a02dadcae753771921d913909215

(1457)

on November 16, 2011
at 11:34 PM

Try to do both at same time as much as possible. However, that won't last forever. I would recommend my winter strategy. Bulk until my pants just barely fit then start cutting... Repeat as necessary.

0
5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on November 16, 2011
at 11:33 PM

The answer varies depending on yoru starting point. In general, if you have a lot of bodyfat, you want to drop it first, then mass gain. You can do both at the same time, but it's a lot harder to do for most people. You're at 14% bodyfat (assuming it is accurate), so I'd think you're pretty good there and could concentrate on mass gain, but what do you want to get to? Lower bodyfat = more aggressive diet/exercise.

By the way, common bodybuilder thinking is to gain mass, you need to eat more, eat more = more bodyfat (because they're eating tons of carbs). Part of why they have problems gaining mass/losing bodyfat at the same time.

8eade6b270dc874843f74fa599fa8754

(163)

on November 17, 2011
at 05:28 AM

Would cutting back on carbs (other then post-workout) help prevent fat gain when trying to add mass?

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on November 17, 2011
at 06:43 PM

Conn0r, that's usually how they do it.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 17, 2011
at 12:13 PM

The challenge with simultaneous mass gain/fat loss is that you're trying to do things that require very different conditions. Mass gain requires energy excess, fat loss requires energy deficit. Careful nutrient/training timing can result in the appearance of concurrent growth and fat loss.

0
Ba20b502cf02b5513ea8c4bb2740d8cb

on November 16, 2011
at 10:29 PM

Depends on your time horizons. If you're going to cut fat (and you want to minimize muscle loss) I would have a longer time horizon, like go for 20 lbs in 90 days. If you're goign to gain muscle, I would have a shorter time horizon and crush as much protein as possible and lift heavy.

0
368568eb91f1b58d2f52c9c566d331b5

(182)

on November 16, 2011
at 08:38 PM

Losing fat is much easier than putting on muscle mass imo. Lift weights and eat a caloric surplus. Just make sure the food you're eating is 'clean' - if you're on this forum I assume you know what that entails.

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