I workout daily for half an hour to gain some muscles(e.g. chess and weight lifting). I have a nice physic except a little bit belly fat, so for that I daily do some half an hour walking and 15 minutes sit-ups. So please suggest me some nice diet(i.e. what things to eat and what to not), so that I can achieve my both goals, i.e. burn and reduce belly fat and gain some muscles at the same time.
And my exercise varies in time and effort because it depends upon my mood and time when I sleep last night, so I don't want the suggestions like e.g. eat 20 gm fat and 50 gm protein, cause I can't measure it, but I want some simple suggestions like eat more of this kind of food and avoid eating this etc.

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    Which of these goals is most important to you? I ask because the two goals you enumerate can be mutually exclusive sometimes.
    – tmesser
    Commented Oct 30, 2012 at 15:17
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    Both goals can be important and that's fine, but one might have to come before the other is all I'm saying. Eating fat does not make you fat. In fact, not eating fat will probably hinder your muscle growth goal. The basic dynamic is that to grow, you need to have a calorie surplus (known as 'bulking'). To cut fat, you need to have a calorie deficit (known as 'cutting'). It is sometimes possible to do both at once, but it is very difficult and completely dependent on the person's body chemistry and overall health.
    – tmesser
    Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 14:36
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    Chess, while a great workout for your mind, does little to improve your physical fitness. If you want to improve physical fitness, try working out your chest.
    – Moses
    Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 17:19
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    @WhyandHow - Dietary fat does not affect body fat any more than protein and carbs do. As long as you're not overeating (ie - eating more calories than you consume), fat will not make you gain weight (or make it any harder to lose weight) than either of the other macronutrients.
    – Shauna
    Commented Nov 5, 2012 at 16:36
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    I think it's more complex than "not eating more calories than you consume," but Shauna is doubleplus correct: eating fat does not make you fat any more than eating carbs or protein. The fat we eat is different from the fat we are. Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 5:05

3 Answers 3


You can (and I did month after month) burn fat on a calorie surplus. I'm currently on a 150% calorie surplus and since I'm doing heavy weight training, I'm telling my body to put on muscle to adapt to my ever-increasing intensity in the weight room.

As for your plea to not talk about food in weights or calories, well you can't really expect to do random things and expect specific results. I can only achieve fat loss + muscle gain at the same time because I've carefully tuned a diet that enables enough calories to put on muscle. Your body is constantly both burning/storing fat/muscle. It is constantly in both a catabolic and anabolic state. The key is to gain an overall NET catabolic state in the fatty tissue and NET anabolic state in muscle.

If you are training hard your body will utilise excess calories for muscle before it does fat. That said, if you eat too much you will put on fat as well as muscle. So the key to a clean bulk is to find that happy caloric intake that SLIGHTLY under optimises protein synthesis for the purposes of burning fat stores for the net difference. Good luck trying to do this eating haphazardly!

If you want general advice for food, eat more protein rich foods (naturally lower in calories) and stay away from sugary things. Eat fresh food - stay away from junk food or food that is overly processed. If you aren't getting stronger (or bigger), then eat more! If you are getting fat or not losing fat then eat less.

That said, if you want to look like a sports model, you have to train like a freak and eat very clean. I'm 8% body fat because I REALLY watch what I eat and I train very hard. You can't obtain an impressive physique by eating any old thing and doing sloppy training unless you have very impressive genetics.

  • thanks for some advice but I didn't understand what you were trying to say by "But if you push this too far, you will put on fat as well as muscle", 2nd line in your third para. Are you trying to say that, if I do a lot of workout, I will gain fat? please explain that line Commented Nov 1, 2012 at 6:44
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    Push too far = eat too much :)
    – Mike S
    Commented Nov 1, 2012 at 22:44
  • I accept your answer for the suggestion "eat more protein rich foods (naturally lower in calories) and stay away from sugary things, junk food or food that is overly processed". Thank you very much. Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 5:48

Cutting fat from your diet does not mean you will by virtue lose fat, in fact the very opposite could hold true! Good fats (poly- and monounsaturated fat) are good for your body and great sources of nutrients and calories. Some examples include avocado, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish like salmon. As an added bonus, a lot of these good fats also have a high protein count as well. In fact, many diets (such as the paleo and atkins) advocate a high fat intake and low carbohydrate intake because carbs are often nutritionally deficient and arguably bad for you in the levels of consumption recommended by the FDA today (think: food pyramid). Instead of thinking of things in terms of carbs, proteins, and fats, I would suggest a far simpler approach to your diet: eat unprocessed foods. Cook your own meals and try to eat whole foods whenever possible.

If you follow a healthy diet and run at a caloric deficit (take in fewer calories than you burned that day) then eventually you will burn off the fat in your belly. You can approach this three ways: eat less, cardio more, or both.

There is a caveat, though, as YYY pointed out. Gaining muscle and losing fat are to a degree mutually exclusive. To gain muscle you need three things: weight training to stimulate growth, energy to fuel growth, and rest to facilitate growth. The problem is, when you run at a caloric deficit (which is needed to lose fat), then by extension you are starving your body of the energy it needs to fuel your muscle growth. Will your muscles still grow as you continue your cardio/diet fat loss routine? Yes, but not nearly as much if they were properly fueled (usually a caloric excess of 500-1000 calories is recommended).


Micro carb cycling, as described in Tom Venuto's Holy Grail, sounds feasible. Essentially putting your body into a caloric surplus on your workout day, and into a deficit the days between workouts. Also trying to get a lot of your protein and caloric requirements directly around your workout, with other meals during the day much smaller.

He suggests a 3-1 ratio (3 days caloric deficit, 1 day surplus) when the primary goal is fat loss, secondary strength gain, and a 3-(2-3) ratio (3 days deficit, 2-3 days surplus) when the primary goal is strength gain, secondary fat loss.

  • it's a really nice idea :) I liked it Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 5:56
  • I've started doing a 1-1 ratio, i.e. 1 day surplus, 1 day deficit, with a 1-2 once a week. I don't think it'll be as good as a 3-(2-3) though but it's too late for me to drop my workouts from 3 to 2 times a week.
    – jontyc
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 6:47

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