For years, I was told, and I believed that it was impossible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. The reason for this thinking was a belief in the incorrect calorie hypothesis. If the calorie hypothesis was true, the only way to gain muscle would be to have a calorie surplus, and the only way to lose fat would be to have a calorie deficit. Since math is…math, then it is a logical impossibility to be in a state of both surplus and deficit at the same time.
But since the underlying paradigm is incorrect (we don’t lose fat by restricting calories), it is very possible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. All it takes is a little bit of discipline, some heavy stuff, and a pig-headed devotion to the ketogenic lifestyle.
The only way that we put on muscle is to increase the stress on our muscles to the point where they must grow in order to accommodate the stress. Excess calories don’t do that. Lifting very heavy things does that. When you stress your muscles, you break them, and the body builds them back up bigger, so that they can handle the stress. It is important, however, to have enough dietary protein to heal the injured muscle cells. So if you are attempting to gain muscle, you will need to check your protein levels to make sure you getting enough to build the muscle.
At the same time, while building muscle, if you are eating correctly (high fat and very low carbs), you will burn through your body fat. But you’ll also recover quicker, feel less sore, and increase strength faster.
So what should you do to build muscle? Well, the answer to that question has filled shelves and shelves of books. But I’ll simplify it. Heavy, compound movements.
That simply means using the heaviest weights you can move, and using movements that stress large areas of muscles. So what are some example of compound exercises? Here’s a list:
- Bench Press
- Pull Ups
- Military Press
- Push Ups
Chest, Triceps, Lats
Quads, hamstrings, Glutes
Delts, Triceps, Traps
Chest, Triceps, Lats
Triceps, Chest, Delts
If you concentrate on those compound movements, and lifting as heavy as you can, you will put on muscle and gain strength.
When I talk to people about building muscle, I get two responses, typically.
- But I don’t want to get huge
- I just want to tone
My response: Good. Because if it was really easy to “just get huge”, bodybuilding wouldn’t be a thing, and I can promise you that every dude would be swole up. Building muscle takes time, getting huge takes a lot of time. It doesn’t just happen overnight. Lifting heavy is the way you build strength and muscle. Unless you are devoting significant numbers of hours to the pursuit, you won’t get huge.
My response: Building muscle has nothing to do with that. The term “toned” was invented by the fitness industry in the 80s to sell ridiculous ideas to women. They convinced woman that if they lifted heavy, they would look like freaks, and that they should, instead, focus on light weight and high repetitions. That, they said, would lead to “toned muscles”. There is no benefit to doing these kinds of exercise. All it does is waste your time. I don’t care what kind of muscles you have, if they are under layers of fat, you are not toned. So being toned has nothing to do with weights. It has everything to do with what you eat.
So there you go. It is absolutely possible to gain muscle while losing fat. It just takes a combination of disciplined exercise of lifting heavy weights and eating a ketogenic diet.