Alright there are so much information all over the net, and everyone has different opinions. I'm so confused at this point and I don't know how to begin.

I'm 27 now, and I used to be overweight. 97kg (213lbs) of body weight and height of 177cm (5'9ft)

I started taking karate classes 3 times a week ( still doing it and loving it ), and I lost about 10kg (22lbs) after 1 year. Then I slowly started eating less junk food, eating more healthy, but still couldn't lose weight. so I saw a dietitian and I managed to lose another 15kg (33lbs) over the course of 1 and a half year.

I'm now at 71kg (156lbs), 15.5% of body fat and BMR of around 1670. I'm eating so much healthier now. I don't drink anything other than water or milk and I quit sugar packed foods like ice creams and chocolate.

Right now my goal is to gain muscle and get strong. I'm a very weak person, and I don't have any visible muscles.

The problem is I still have fats, specially on belly, love handles, chest, and a bit on arms and back. and I don't know if I should be on a caloric deficit or caloric surplus at this point.

I heard about this thing called body recomposition. few people say it is possible to lose fat and build muscle at same time, but it is a very slow process and it only works for beginners. And I'm not sure if I'm considered a "beginner", or even if I want to do body recomp.

Also I don't want to go back to just cutting calories only. I want to build up muscle and strength while losing the extra fat that is left on me. I'm really tired of being weak, not looking muscular as a man.

I'm also scared of bulking up because I don't want to gain the fats that I worked so hard to burn over the years.

Sorry for the long read

Please give me advice or anything that is helpful toward my goal. Thanks a lot.

1 Answer 1


Firstly, congratulations - dropping from 97kg to 71kg is a huge accomplishment!

Now, at your height, weight and BF%, I would definitely not recommend trying to cut further fat. 15.5% is a very low body fat level, and would hardly be visible if you had more muscle. If you do an image search for people of similar body fat levels, you'll get a good idea of what you might look like with the same fat percentage, but more muscle. Whereas if you keep cutting fat without having any muscle underneath it, you'll only end up looking like you have an eating disorder.

To get stronger, I recommend finding a strength training or powerlifting coach who can teach you to squat, deadlift, and press. I go into some detail about that in a previous answer: How long would it take for a skinny man to get fit and 6 pack?

As for losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time, yes, it is possible for beginners, and yes, you definitely are a beginner. Using Mark Rippetoe's guidelines, a novice or beginner is a trainee who is capable of making strength gains every workout, an intermediate is a trainee who is only capable of making strength gains from week to week, and an advanced trainee is one who is only capable of making strength gains on, at best, a month to month basis. "Making strength gains" pretty much just means being able to add more weight to the bar. You would typically be a novice/beginner for about the first 3 months of powerlifting training, although you'd very likely find that you could only continue making gains without a caloric surplus for the beginning of that, with the amount of time this lasts being longer if you have a higher starting body fat level. (A complete novice will initially get stronger with just about any kind of exercise, but as you become more and more experienced, it becomes harder and harder to continue gaining muscle.)

If you're concerned about the possibility of re-gaining fat, just be conservative with your caloric surplus. Only increase your food intake when you fail to keep getting stronger, and make small jumps, of maybe 100kcal/day. So you might start training 3 days per week with a 500kcal surplus over your previous daily energy expenditure, under the assumption that most of that surplus would be burned up by the increased level of exercise, and the rest will go to building muscle. (If you're already exercising a lot and would be replacing that with the strength training, then you might not need such a big initial increase.) Then whenever your strength training progress stalls, or you struggle to complete your sets, you would increase your daily intake by 100kcal, while also ensuring that you're getting enough protein.

After 3-6 months of that, you could have gained as much as 10kg of muscle. That would be an appropriate time to reassess how you feel about your body composition, and decide whether you want to shift focus from gaining muscle to losing fat.

  • Thanks that was a good response. Although I'm a bit confused on the nutrition part. Specifically from "although you'd very likely find that you could" to the end of it's paragraph. So are you saying I should be on a caloric surplus ? or be around my maintenance or lower for first few months?
    – Hassan
    Jul 20, 2018 at 13:34
  • The "you'd very likely find" part was meant to indicate that is is unlikely that strength training on a caloric surplus would work for more than a very short time. So you might be able to make progress for a few weeks while eating at maintenance, but after that you'd need to increase your food intake to a caloric surplus. An obese person could train for a much longer time at maintenance food intake, because they have plenty of energy available in their excess body fat. (Whereas at your 15.5% body fat level, that energy is nowhere near as accessible.) Jul 21, 2018 at 0:19
  • Alright will do. By the way the link to photos of 15% body fat male you posted is not really accurate, at least not in my case. I have much more fat than the subjects that are coming up on those pictures. I also have another question if that's ok, right now I'm taking 3 scoop of whey protein per day which is 72g of protein in total. beside the extra 10 to 20g of protein I get from foods like diaries. are these enough amount of protein that I need to achieve my goal?
    – Hassan
    Jul 21, 2018 at 7:03
  • 1
    No I'm not a vegetarian. The thing is I still live with my family and the foods they make are not really rich in protein (they are mostly high in carbs and fiber). Before buying whey protein I tried having 1 serving of cooked chicken breast per day but after 1 week It became disgusting. I also realized just 1 serving of chicken breast wouldn't do the job because it's only like 20g of protein ( or maybe less ). and I can't have 5 serving per day or anything like that so I was like screw it lets just go to supplements.
    – Hassan
    Jul 22, 2018 at 7:07
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    I'd say 2 scoops is probably a reasonable upper limit. The important thing is to ensure that it isn't displacing other foods, and putting you at risk of deficiencies in other nutrients. E.g. If red meat was your only source of iron, and you replaced all the red meat in your diet with whey protein, then you may be putting yourself at risk of iron deficiency. Jul 22, 2018 at 11:22

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