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Does Building Muscle Burn Fat?

    Does Building Muscle Burn Fat?

    Losing fat requires slightly cutting calories, minimizing the consumption of refined carbohydrates, and cutting down on fat; building muscle requires proteins. The general rule is that losing fat requires a caloric deficit, while building muscle requires a caloric surplus, which might make it sound as though the two goals are inconsistent. It sounds confusing that you need to eat less calories than you burn to lose fat, but need to eat more calories than you burn to build muscle. For now, just remember you only need less calories in than calories out for fat loss, whether it is fat stores or muscles.

    As I explained, muscle weighed more than fat, so if you are losing body fat and also adding muscle, you may actually be weighting equal. To lose body fat, you have to eat less, while adding muscle requires eating more, so it may sound completely impossible to accomplish both goals. Your fitness goals are instead to reduce body fat, but simultaneously maintain the muscle that you have (or even gain more muscle).

    This, my friends, comes with having muscular definition, which is why you do not want to chase fat loss, but instead, change your focus to being fat-loss focused. If you are losing weight, you are losing both fat and muscle, so while your body might be smaller, your form is not actually going to change. Your body is smarter than you might think, and keeping an eye on your diet (specifically, when to eat what) and training, you absolutely can lose fat and build muscle at the same time. Because you are trying to do two things simultaneously–lose fat and gain muscle–you cannot treat your body-recomposition program the way fad diets are.

    The point of a body recomposition is to simultaneously lose fat and gain muscle, as opposed to the traditional bulk-and-cut approach, where you deliberately bulk up (muscle and fat) at first, and then follow it up with a heavy caloric deficit to shed fat and expose the muscles beneath. In most cases, you will want to focus on losing fat first, and then reversing your diet to slowly add back in more calories and build muscle. Achieving your body-recomposition goals typically requires you to reduce dietary fat and carbohydrates while increasing protein, so replacing some refined carbohydrates and less-healthy fats in your diet with a moderate protein boost should help you maintain or improve your lean muscle mass as you are losing fat.

    Research shows that eating extra protein while losing fat encourages your body to retain more lean body mass, and when combined with resistance training, it can promote fat loss while maintaining lean body mass. More importantly, muscles are more metabolically active than fat, meaning having more muscles on your body may further support weight loss by burning more calories (20, 21).

    Part of the reconditioning occurs because muscles are metabolically active and calorie-burning, so adding muscle by lifting should boost your energy expenditure and resting metabolic rate. This does not completely explain the effects, since adding muscle requires time and reps, whereas some of the metabolic effects of weight training on fat stores appear to happen right after the workout. When you gain/maintain muscle, it also keeps your resting metabolic rate, or RMR, up, meaning that you are burning more calories when you are at rest.

    The more muscle you build, the more calories your body naturally burns at rest every day. The human body will naturally burn more calories per day to support one pound of muscle than to support one pound of fat. With a higher percentage of fat, their bodies have more energy to spare and direct towards gaining muscle.

    When you add muscle, you boost metabolism – that makes your body burn more calories, says Katy Heimburger. By cutting the overall body fat, or increasing your muscle mass, you end up with a lower body fat percentage (it is just the simple ratio of fat to everything else). I mean, if you lost 5lbs of fat, AND gained 5lbs of muscle, you will have an entire 15-20 Calories more per day of metabolism. Which means, by simply building muscle, you will significantly boost your metabolism and transform your body into a fat-burning, caloric-burning machine…and that obviously improves your overall fat-loss progress.

    However, a too big calorie deficit could cause you to rapidly lose lean muscle, since your body will be breaking down the muscle for an emergency fuel source. From both a physique and health perspective, of course, we would rather not have the body breaking down muscle during a calorie deficit, instead focusing on actually using your fat stores. The hope is that your body primarily draws from your fat stores, although depending on how you are training, it also breaks down muscle. Protein plays a hugely important role in maintaining muscle, and when you are on a caloric deficit with fat loss as a goal, eating enough protein will give your body the best possible chance to keep your muscles intact during this process.

    Outside of being in a caloric deficit and lifting heavy (or on yourself), eating enough protein is one of the key components to losing body fat as well as gaining muscle. You need to get your body burning more calories than it is taking in, as well as giving it enough protein to repair your muscles. Yes, muscles burn more calories than fat…but not quite enough for that to really make a difference, ultimately.

    Static-state cardio works to burn calories, but it also throws you into a caloric deficit, where your body starts burning your muscle tissue preferentially instead of your body fat.

    If you stop working out, your fat cells get bigger, while your muscle fibers shrink, so you might notice a bit of an added wobble. If that is the case, building 5 pounds of muscle will result in up to 500 additional calories being burned per day by your body, which is really a massive boost in your metabolism which would really have a substantial positive impact on your ability to burn fat.


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