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In the past few months, I've managed to trim down to about 11% bodyfat but unfortunately not without sacrificing a several pounds of muscle in the process. I'd like to regain and build beyond that lost size. If I could gradually reduce my bodyfat further as well, that'd be great, but muscle gain without increasing fat is my goal right now.

"Everyone's body is different" notwithstanding, how would I go about calculating a good guideline for daily caloric intake and macronutrient split that would best facilitate gaining of muscle without increase of fat?

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2 Answers 2

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From my own experience ( i lost around 60 pounds 3 years ago but not one inch of muscle lost), you have to focus on two things:

  • You have to do body weight training OR weight lifting: HOWEVER , do NOT overtrain! overtraining in your case (while eating low calories) will make your body protect itself and hold to every single piece of fat it has. Train moderately , for like max 40 mins per session, maximum 4 times a week. This will help you build muscle and not hold to your fat, since your deficit won't be extreme! however, to build proper muscles nutrition is essential and so we go to the next point.
  • keep your calories level low (same calories you are eating to loose weight): HOWEVER, do not do the common mistake of cutting carbs and/or fat! a lot of talks online goes around protein, and that you need X grams of protein to grow muscles...while protein is needed, as it is the building block of muscles, good carbs are what stores energy and glycogen in your muscle and help it recover, ie good recovery makes the muscles grows more. By good carbs i mean complex carbs. On a side note, something which still intrigues me till nowadays, and that is FAT ( the good fat ie monounsaturated,polyunsaturated and even a bit of saturated,never trans fat) will help you loose the remaining fat if you eat a balanced diet with a bit of fat in it. Why? i don't claim to be a doctor, but it did help me and i assume that when u have a bit of that healthy fat , your body monitor system will feel safe that with this low calories and weight lifting routine , it is still getting enough fat that it needs to regulates all bodily hormones.

When i first started the fat burn/muscle gain routine, i used to think of carbs as the devil and that i should train 4 hours a day. This is all wrong, you need to understand what you are doing cannot be accomplished in 1 week, and that you have to constantly challenge your muscles without overtraining (as mentionned above). Overtraining made me gain fat even with low calories level.

So in a summary:

  • Moderate muscle training
  • low calories
  • a balanced diet containing all sort of nutrients ( never do the "I only eat protein" diet): my personal choice is: 50% complex carbs, 20-30% protein, 20-30% fat (however this percentage might be different for different genetics, but the point is having a rich balanced diet so that your hormones function properly and u reach what you are trying to do)
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Everybody's different is, unfortunately, the answer. And as you probably know, adding muscle and not fat is easiest in untrained folks, so it's not a sure thing.

But that said, I can tell you what's worked for me. During a gain, I'll eat 35% carbs, 40% pro, 25% fat, at about 200 cal over my maintenance number after adding exercise calories back in. Maintenance for me is around 2200, and say I burn about 300 during my workouts. I'd shoot for about 2700 cal with the split mentioned above. It's a slower gain than eating over 3000 calories, but you didn't say anything about needing it to be fast, so maybe it'll help.

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