How to lose fat and build muscle- How to eat, how to train!
By Phil Learney- Renowned personal trainer, top-athlete advisor, published writer, contributor to TRAX magazine..
Editors note: Phil Learney is an expert in his field of high-level conditioning. He has worked with some of the top body builders and trained figure girls in the UK. An expert in helping his clients achieve maximum fat-loss in the quickest-possible time. Phil’s knowledge is second-to-none and he is an asset to the PhD team of qualified advisors.
Question 1- I’ve reduced my carbohydrate and overall calorie intake, yet don’t seem to be losing fat and feel like I’m losing muscle, why?
One of the most common problems I deal with is the obsession with reducing calories. We have all been obliged to look at ‘weight’ loss over the past years and almost all of the population has been brainwashed into thinking, reduce calories, lose weight. Before you jump on your high horse and tell me that that works, I never once said it didn’t. Chopping an arm off will also help you lose some lbs when you step on the scales but we don’t all do that? The problem is, we all look at weight as a figure when we step on the scales, not what that weight is composed of. Is it muscle or fat?
As I’m writing this I’m thinking about the fact that on a BMI scale I’m classed as Obese at a figure into the 30’s. I assure you I’m not!
I don’t think I’ve ever dealt with anyone who didn’t want less fat and more tone. Male or Female!
Firstly lets look calories.
Eat too many calories = Increase in stored energy – Bodyfat.
Don’t eat enough calories = Malnourished of all essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals= Body is in survival mode. It will release the smallest amount of energy it can and store the rest for a later date leading to an increase in bodyfat.
For the ladies, survival means your body wants to protect its future generations, means that it will protect your reproductive system. Sound familiar?
The body will turn on its Catabolic (degenerative) mechanisms. It will break down protein as a fuel source (muscle).
The skeletal muscles are what dictate your metabolic rate; lose them, your metabolism gets slower and joint support gets weaker.
So taking just a few of these pointers, reducing calories will lead to exactly what it offers, weight loss (muscle is VERY heavy!) and fat gain (Fat is lighter than muscle). If that’s what you want, weight loss with a physique that gets softer and softer? Carry on eating less as you are. If not? Read on.
The government’s average recommendations for calories are 2000 for females, 2500 for males. If the assumption is you’re average if you eat less than these you get all the negative consequences above.
But! A big but here is. Where are those calories coming from?
Quality is the first point, 1000 calories taken from a plate of fish and chips is different from 1000 calories taken from Chicken and baked potatoes.
We MUST have a clean diet with clean wholesome foods!
The next key point is balance. A good start point is to take your calorific requirements, say for example 3000 calories and split them up. 1000 calories from high quality unrefined carbohydrate. 1000 calories from high quality lean protein. And 1000 calories from top quality essential fats. This will give you 33.3% of each nutrient.
Seeking advice from a fitness professional or nutritionist can help you evaluate what ratio would be ‘ideal’ for you and your goals. A call to the advisors at PhD will help you address this.
Question 2- I get told by the experts that I cannot lose fat and build muscle at the same time. I want to get toned, but also want to stay strong and build some muscle mass, can it be done?
Another big problem I come across is the less is better with diet and more is better with exercise mentality. If you recall the breakdown state I talked about that we achieve when reducing calories. Add exercise to that and your body breaks down muscle and stores fat even faster.
Most of the people I deal with can achieve brilliant fat loss with 3-4, 30-40 minute gym sessions a week with no monotonous cardiovascular exercise to boot.
Remember that muscle tissue increases our metabolism and dictates it’s resting level. More muscle tissue means more calories burnt at rest and during exercise.
How do we traditionally burn calories?
I have NEVER done cardiovascular training with any of my clients to achieve fat loss….ever!!
We move our muscles through a restricted range of motion which means we only shape and use a small portion of them. The more muscle tissue we use at any one stage the more fuel we burn.
Small muscle groups burn less calories than big ones….end of story!
With that in mind lets look at the body and how we traditionally exercise it.
Why the rest? Because you can’t work the same muscle group again and again, can you?
Correct, but you can work opposing muscle groups or even completely different ones whilst the others are resting. This means the workout remains high intensity, cardiovascular benefits are achieved and ultimately it takes you less time to achieve the same outcome.
A hypothetical workout to burn body fat and build muscle.
Time taken with rest assuming 1 second per repetition, possibly 120 seconds.
Two minutes! That means with a few short rests to take onboard water you could complete 10 circuits in less than 30 minutes.
Using the weights indicated just as a guide. This person has just moved 24 ton in less than 30 minutes, completed a whole body toning workout with a full range of movement, challenged their cardiovascular system hugely, burned copious amounts of fuel and even more as the body goes through the ‘afterburn’ effects of muscular repair. Over time, extra muscle, higher metabolism.
Question 3- How should I eat before and after my workout to lose body fat? I ask at my gym but no one seems to know.
If you want to build muscle tissue, opening an anabolic window through correct pre and post workout nutrition to build is critical.
An example of a Building window would be:
Pre Workout (20 minutes Prior)
Post Workout #1 Immediate
Post Workout #2- 15 Minutes later
To illicit fat loss the same window can be opened but with the nutritional emphasis on fat loss.
An example of a Fat Loss window would be:
Pre Workout# 1 (60-90 minutes Prior)
Pre Workout# 2 (30 minutes Prior)
Pre Workout #3 (20 minutes Prior)
Post Workout #1 Immediate
Post Workout #2 15 Minutes later
A bold statement would be to say muscle tissue can be gained and fat loss at the same time and here I am saying it.
For women who desire a tight and toned physique, rarely would these workouts need splitting. Only when ‘bodybuilding’ is a goal would workouts and nutrition change to achieve alternative outcomes.