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Can I Really Gain Muscle Without Gaining Fat?

Aug 14, 2008
There are two common fitness goals - to gain muscle mass and to lose body fat. Unfortunately, for the most part, the two goals are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Building muscle mass is going to require you to take in a surplus of calories because, well, let's face it, you can't build muscle out of nothing (unless of course you have some chemical help going on). Losing fat mass on the other hand is going to require you to be in a negative calorie balance because that is what will get your body burning off additional body fat as fuel for its tissues.

Trying to do these things at once is rather counterproductive, and will generally tend not to get you the results that you require.

In order to build more muscle mass, a certain amount of weight gain is unavoidable and necessary, but what you can do is learn the facts about how to control it.

So can you really gain weight without getting fat? When adding muscle mass there are two approaches you can take...

The first idea is generally this...that the more food goes in...the more muscle goes on!

This thinking is heavily flawed. The body can only assimilate so much muscle tissue at once and after it has done so, any remaining calories are simply going to be stored as body fat. Plain and simple. You my friend, are no exception to the rule.

Many guys who begin their training with the 'bulking up' theory of a massive intake of calories each day (five thousand and over) will find that after three to six months that they are carrying a fair amount of excess fat weight.

The second option is to adopt a more moderate approach and only eat so many additional calories to support this muscle growth and that's it. This will allow you to hopefully get as much lean tissue gained as possible without the accumulation of a monstrous rise in body fat.

Now I guess you have a question...how many calories can you have, over and above what you would normally have to keep a stable weight?

Everyone has seen the ads showing the poor little guy who made good, piling on over 20 pounds worth of muscle in six weeks. It is possible, under extreme conditions where he has the best trainer in the world and genetics that Schwartzenegger would kill for, but generally you can expect things to happen rather more slowly.

A naturally trained individual can hope to achieve about half a pound to one pound of muscle per week - if he's doing everything correctly. If he doesn't have the greatest genetics or isn't feeding himself optimally, this will decrease even further. So as you can see, at a measly two to four pounds of muscle growth per month, you aren't going to be needing to eat insanely high calorie intakes.

The more calories you take in then the more likelihood there is of gaining body fat. The best way to keep a check on your progress is to start by raising your calorie intake by 250 to 500 calories, above your normal, each day. Check out your appearance regularly and if you spot that extra weight coming on as fat, then drop your calorie intake down a touch, until you get it right for you.

Every persons body reacts differently when beginning a weight or muscle gain regime because everyones metabolism is different. As you try to optimise your 'bulking up', alter your calorie intake accordingly.

Remember that the more patient you are with your muscle gains and the slower you go, the more time you can spend adding muscle mass and the less time you have to spend dieting off the additional fat you gained - which as I'm sure many of you already know, is not a pleasant experience!
About the Author
About the Writer: Clare Innes has various lifestyle sites, including one devoted to muscle building You can also check out her Weight Loss site at http://firstforweightloss.com Look out for more lifestyle sites in the 'First For...' series, curently under development.
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