Should I Lose Weight Before Building Muscle? Not everyone is naturally gifted with a muscular and athletic physique. Some people do nothing for their physique, but still are super-fit and naturally develop muscular and athletic physique.
Others, on the other hand, have got around and large tummy. They have to sweat their butt off to shed a few extra pounds off their body.
If you are a beginner in exercise and bodybuilding and want to get yourself some muscular physique, you might be curious to know whether you should diet and workout to lose your body fat first or consume more calories to promote muscle building in your body.
Well, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It depends. It depends on where you stand in terms of body physique and fat composition and where do you want to finish in this game.
Should I lose weight before building muscle? In this article, we will find the answer to this question. We will figure out if you should cut (lose fat) before bulking (building muscles) or bulk first and then lose fat, or you should go another way round by building muscles and losing your body fat at the same time (called Recomposition).
Cut or Bulk or Recomp.
If you are beginning the journey to achieve your dream physique, you have got three ways to do so:
The bulk (Build Muscle)
Well, like any other thing, you need raw material, labor, and surplus energy to build something new. The same goes for your muscles.
To bulk up and build large, strong muscles for an athletic physique, you need to provide yourself an ample amount of raw material (amino acids, vitamins, etc.) and surplus energy (calories) required to increase protein synthesis in your body which, in turn, increases your muscle size and strength.
Protein-rich foods will provide raw material, while extra calories will give the energy to build your muscle mass using the raw materials.
Also, you need a certain amount of calories for your daily needs and maintain your basal metabolism. This requirement varies depending on gender, age, and the level of your physical activity.
You need to be in a caloric surplus state to build muscles. The caloric surplus state means that you consume extra calories than your daily calorie requirements.
Of course, you will also need to do workouts to stimulate protein synthesis in your body. Otherwise, all this raw material and energy will be converted into fat and stored around your belly.
The Cut (Lose Fat)
Basically, fat stored in your body is the extra calories than your daily requirement, that you have consumed over time.
To cut and lose fat off your body, you need to be in a caloric deficit state.
The caloric deficit state means to consume fewer calories than your daily requirements. This way, your body will start burning your fat stores to generate energy to meet its daily calorie requirement.
Recomposition means to cut and bulk at the same time. You consume calories just enough to meet your daily requirements, and you work out to stimulate your muscle growth. The energy required for muscle growth is met up by burning the fat stores of your body.
It will change your body composition (less fat, more muscles) without disturbing your weight scale.
Who Needs to Bulk First
In short, those who are lean enough to lose any fat. If you are already lean and slim, you have no fat to lose off first. You can just begin by bulking and getting larger.
Moreover, bulking up, along with building muscles, also results in a little increment in your body fat percentage. That’s always happening when you are in a caloric surplus state. It is a natural process. You will also add some fat while bulking up for your muscles.
Surely, this fat gain is far less than that resulting from being in a caloric surplus state and doing no weight training and workouts.
Here a question may arise that how lean is lean enough to start to bulk first rather than losing fat. The answer is if your body fat percentage is less than 12% (for men) or less than 20% (for women) can start to bulk first rather than losing fat.
Who Needs to Cut First
In short, those who are obese and overweight need to lose their body fat first rather than bulking up. In other words, if your body fat percentage is more than 18% (for men) or 25% (for women), you should better lose your fat first.
Once you have lost enough fat and achieved the optimum percentage (12% or 20%), you can switch from cutting to bulking phase.
Caution. You still need to do workouts and weight training while in the cutting phase (losing fat). Otherwise, if you lose fat only by diet and maintaining a caloric deficit state, you will also lose your muscle mass along with body fat. Of course, you don’t want so. Do you?
Who Needs to Recomp.
Only a slight range of people fall fit to be recommended to opt for recomposition. These people who have their body fat percentage between 10-17% (for men), and 19-25% (for women) are recommended to get into shape using the recomposition approach.
But recomposition is not recommended to many people because it gives minor results, both in terms of fat loss as well as muscle building, over a long period. Thus, for people seeking to achieve significant fat loss and muscle building over a short period, recomposition is not the best approach. They may get disappointed with the results.
Should I Lose Weight Before Building Muscle
The answer to this question is very simple. And the answer lies within you. To get the answer, just measure your body fat percentage and evaluate the category you lie in. Moreover, it also depends on your preferences.
If your body fat percentage is less than 12% (men) or 20% (women), you should not lose fat first. Instead, you should start with bulking to add muscles and get your dream physique.
If your body fat percentage is more than 18% (men) or 25% (women), better that you lose fat first and once you achieve the optimum range, then you should start bulking up to make your physique dream come true.
If your body fat percentage lies between 12-18% and you are patient enough to get results over a long period, you can opt for recomposition. But if you want faster results, recomposition is not for you. You should also follow the second group.
Tips for Faster Results
Depending on your body fat percentage, whether you are cutting the cutting phase (losing fat) or in the bulking phase, these time-tested tips will boost your results and get you in shape earlier than before.
- Keep Track of Your Food Intake and Exercise. By tracking your food intake and exercise, you take control of your caloric state (whether deficit or surplus), and you know that you are going the right way. You can use a diet diary or an online app to record your calorie consumption. Moreover, food tracking allows you to know what portions of your intake are proteins, carbs, fats, or micros. Similarly, you can use exercise apps to record your calories spent every day. You can look for calories counting apps here.
- Weight Train Regularly. Whether you are in the cutting or bulking phase, weight training is what stimulates both fat loss and muscle building. The regular weight training combined with a caloric deficit, enhances fat loss, and enhances muscle building gains when combined with caloric surplus state. The results are more enhanced if you perform high-intensity interval training. It is a form of exercise which requires to perform quick bursts of physical activity combined with a shorter recovery period.
- Sleep More and Better. Your body repairs your muscles and tissues when you sleep. An adequate amount (6-8 hours/day) of good quality sleep enhances your muscle gains. While going shorter on sleep can increase your belly fat stores.
- Change Your Lifestyle. Change your lifestyle and adapt to healthy eating and living habits. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Do not eat trans-fats. Eat fatty fish (contains omega fatty acids). Drink green tea daily. Also, use some apple cider vinegar daily. Cut off your sugar and refined carbs intake. Do not drink or smoke. Do not drink sweetened beverages. Avoid and reduce your stress. And take adequate sleep.
The Bottom Line
The answer to the question, ”should I lose weight before building muscles or not”, depends on your body fat percentage. If your body fat percentage is less than 12%, you should not lose fat before building muscle. You don’t have any extra fat to lose.
If your body fat percentage is more than 18%, You should lose fat before building muscles. Otherwise, your body fat percentage can add up further. If your body fat percentage is between the two, you should opt for recomposition. But keep it in mind that recomposition is a pretty slow process to show results.
Moreover, by following the above-given tips, not only can you increase your fat loss and muscle building gains, but you also can achieve your goals in a short time.
So this is all about Should I Lose Weight Before Building Muscle?