I am doing weights for a few months now, but I find it hard to gain muscles and burn fat at the same time. It seems like one goes at the expense of the other. I think I have a balanced diet, with more proteins than before (whey isolate), and little fat. At the same time, I think I need more carbs than before, to grow muscles. For sure I don't want to be hungry, as my body will burn muscles then, right? I also do cardio exercises to burn fat, but when I do it the day after a weights workout, the muscles hurt more than otherwise. Is this a bad idea, and do I just destroy muscle tissue that way? Or am I doing it all right and am I just being impatient?

My core question is how best to combine gaining muscles and burning fat. I am aware that the question has been asked before, but I want to know precisely how one affects the other.

How can I minimize muscle loss when losing fat by energy deficit or doing cardio exercise and how can I minimize fat gain when I try to gain muscles with workouts accompanied with proteins and energy?

Just for clarification, when I say "burn fat", I don't necessarily mean "lose weight". Just get a lower fat percentage.

  • There's a lot of questions here. Could you boil it down to one core question? That allows us to answer better and in more detail. Sep 29, 2012 at 19:40
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    I also would ask why you want to restrict your fat intake. Eating fat doesn't make you fat. Sep 29, 2012 at 19:41
  • I just added the answer to your questions to the original question :-) Sep 29, 2012 at 20:19
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    Most people tend to consuming too much, because of old studies that are still referenced, especially by people selling shakes. 0.8g is fine, I addressed protein needs in this answer.
    – Baarn
    Sep 30, 2012 at 16:19
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    Why are you eating whey isolate when you could just eat food? 60g a day is a pretty easy target to hit.
    – intuited
    Dec 4, 2012 at 10:33

4 Answers 4


Lowering your fat percentage (burning fat) can be a good goal, but you should be careful not to set unrealistic goals. Wanting a lower fat percentage than you are genetically designed to have can be very frustrating and unhealthy. For a man having a fat percentage between 6 and 15% is perfectly fine. It depends on you body type how much fat percentage you have.

That said, let's assume that your fat percentage is higher than you're genetically designed to have. You want to burn some fat and build some muscle.

Although loosing weight and building muscle are to different processes is your body you can do them at the same time. Burning fat is just using body fat as main energy source while being active and building muscle is just damaging your muscles (in a save way of course) so they come back stronger.

To make your body burn body fat is it important that you lower the insulin level in your blood, you do that by cutting on the carbs and eliminating your sugar intake.

To damage you muscle so they come back stronger you should put an intense amount of stress on your muscles for a short period of time. I recommend you to do three separate workouts in the gym every week no longer than 30 minutes, workout 1 is chest and triceps, workout 2 is back and biceps, workout 3 is legs and shoulders. I would do sit-ups as a warm up every workout. Make sure you push yourself to the lint every time, muscle grow happens in those lat few reps that seem impossible but you have to push them. But again: be careful, use your own judgement, and always ask the fitness instructor if you are executing an exercise in the right way.

By doing this short/intense workout and avoiding sugars you will get your body to burn the body fat. You will needs some carbs but experiment with it, try one week more and one week less carbs and see what works for you. Always eat a lot of protein, healthy fats and vitamins. In loosing fat and gaining muscle diet is as least as important than the workout.


Because body building isn't an exact science like bridge building (and even that has gone horribly wrong more than once), you're going to have to keep a food diary and a workout diary. The food diary tracks calories, protein, (and slip ups) and your weight. The workout diary tracks your strength and work capacity and aerobics. You can start with WebMD calculators for BMI and minimum calorie intake to maintain weight and a good workout program emphasizing big lifts. But these are only starting points. You need real data to determine what works - and remember that things will change as you go.

  • I don't see how this answers the question…
    – Baarn
    Oct 3, 2012 at 15:08
  • "My core question is how best to combine gaining muscles and burning fat. ... but I want to know precisely how one affects the other." I'm saying that the usual answers are inappropriately precise at this stage of our knowledge and measuring ability. As you correctly point out, my 'answer' is merely an empirical methodology that many people have found effective.
    – medmal
    Oct 4, 2012 at 6:03
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    I agree: I made the biggest progress after I started logging my weight and training stats and tried to figure out what helped and what didn't from there. That information was much more valuable than any diet and training advise from books or internet because I knew which ones worked for me and which didn't. So I think telling someone to log the things they want to change and the paramters that influence them and try figure out what works for them and what doesn't is better advise than any detailed training and diet plan given without equally detailed information about that person.
    – Trudbert
    Oct 22, 2012 at 12:02
  • @Trudbert Thanks. I often find myself in a difficult position on this forum. I do believe you've got to be careful in a gym and keep up with best practices AND that none of this is an exact science. It would take a concentration camp of Nazi doctors to double blind prove most of this stuff AND I believe we can all none the less succeed at getting closer to being the person we want to be.
    – medmal
    Oct 22, 2012 at 19:27

Gain muscle and burn fat at the same time is really hard. I tried it for several years and never really made much of a progress. The thing is if you want to bulk (gain muscles) you have to make sure your muscles get enough energy so that they can grow. So my advise is, forget about burning fat if you really want to gain muscle, do it in a 2 phase manner, first you gain muscle then you burn fat and shape your body.

Bulking and Cutting are two phases that don't really go with eachother. Believe me, as I said I tried it for a long time but as I realised this concept I made some serious progress.

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    Thank you Danny, so assuming they can't be done together, can you tell me something about the interval that works best for you? I mean you probably don't switch every week. How can you tell that you eat enough in bulking phase to have maximum muscle and minimum fat growth? How can you tell that in cutting phase you have maximum fat cutting and minimum muscle cutting? Nov 2, 2012 at 19:24

Simple If you are skinny guy , Do sprinting and explosive workout continue for about 20 mins , no rest.

If you have a little fat and more muslces like you are bulked up.Do 3 mins cardio and 3 mins explosive and then cardio and then explosive and then cardio and then explosive , as many time as you can.

If you are just a fat guy , then just do marathon running + drinking a lot of water.

If you need complete scientificly information , you will need to read books.

If you just want to know quickly and start doing it , take this simple information and start as fast as you can

  • -1 "just do marathon" … a heavier person will even have problems with walking.
    – Baarn
    Oct 10, 2012 at 16:42

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