When you exercise, do you burn fat and build muscle simultaneously?

Countless people sweat it out in the gym trying to reach their desired body weight and shape but let’s be honest, the struggle is real.

Is it possible to build muscle and burn fat at the same time? When do you start building muscle and stop burning fat? Or, when do you start hindering muscle gain by doing too much “fat burning” exercises? Wouldn’t you want to know?

According to Bodybuilding.com, it is possible to build muscle and lose fat at the same time. It might be tricky but it’s possible.

What makes many people misunderstand this concept is the reasoning that in order to build muscle, you need to consume excess calories and in order to lose fat there must be a calorie deficit (giving your body less energy – a.k.a food – than it burns over time). Therefore, they are led to believe that since you can’t do both of the above at the same time, you can’t build muscle and lose fat at the same time. However, that’s not entirely true.

How it works

What it comes down to is this: the true goal while bulking up is to build muscle while keeping fat gains to an absolute minimum. When shedding those unwanted pounds, the true goal is to lose fat while maintaining all of the muscle you’ve built.

A Workout Routine advises that if you do it incorrectly (i.e. take in too many calories or not enough), you’d gain too much excess body fat while bulking up and/or lose too much lean muscle while thinking you’re “losing fat” and basically end up going nowhere slowly while getting extremely frustrated at the same time.

As we’ve mentioned in a previous post, when it comes to your exercise routine, an important thing to remember is that too much cardio can actually hinder muscle gain by slowing recovery and burning up calories that your body needs for the process of building muscle.

Cardio isn’t bad, though, and is definitely necessary. Cardio in moderation does wonders for bulking up on muscle.

What to do?

Maintain a moderate calorie deficit

According to Muscle for Life, you may be able to build muscle in a calorie deficit but most definitely can’t lose fat unless you’re in a deficit, which is why a body recomposition (Building muscle and losing fat simultaneously), requires being in a calorie deficit.



You can do low-intensity cardio training, such as walking or slow cycling, 3-4 times per week; moderate-intensity cardio such as jogging or swimming 2-3 times per week; and high-intensity training such as sprinting and interval training once, or a maximum of twice per week.


Weight training

Weight training can be done 3 times per week on alternating days.

Strength training and stretching

Try to do at least one session of strength training and stretching per week.

About My Health and Fitness

Welcome to My Health and Fitness, a rich source of articles to help you become the best version of yourself. From diet to exercise and general health, our content contributors (including Biokineticists, Physiotherapists, and Fitness Professionals) will cover all your frequently asked questions and more!

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Disclaimer: Our articles are not meant to replace any medical advice as given to you by your doctor or healthcare specialist. Always consult your doctor before embarking on a new exercise routine or drastic changes in your diet, especially where pre-existing conditions are applicable.


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