Can You Burn Fat and Build Muscle at the Same Time? No Bro Science

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Can You Burn Fat and Build Muscle at the Same Time? No Bro Science - Thomas DeLauer

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

During the 4-week period, researchers provided:

Hypoenergetic (~40% reduction compared with requirements) diets providing 33 ± 1 kcal/kg LBM to young men who were randomly assigned (n = 20/group) to consume either a lower-protein (1.2 g · kg(-1) · d(-1)) control diet (CON) or a higher-protein (2.4 g · kg(-1) · d(-1)) diet (PRO)

All subjects performed resistance exercise training combined with high-intensity interval training for 6 d/wk

A 4-compartment model assessment of body composition was made pre- and postintervention.

As a result of the intervention, LBM increased in the PRO group (1.2 ± 1.0 kg) and to a greater extent compared with the CON group (0.1 ± 1.0 kg)

The PRO group had a greater loss of fat mass than did the CON group (PRO: -4.8 ± 1.6 kg; CON: -3.5 ± 1.4k)

All measures of exercise performance improved similarly in the PRO and CON groups as a result of the intervention with no effect of protein supplementation

Changes in serum cortisol during the intervention were associated with changes in body fat and LBM

Results showed that, during a marked energy deficit, consumption of a diet containing 2.4 g protein · kg(-1) · d(-1) was more effective than consumption of a diet containing 1.2 g protein · kg(-1) · d(-1) in promoting increases in LBM and losses of fat mass when combined with a high volume of resistance and anaerobic exercise

Simplified Results

Both groups lost fat: the HP group lost 4.8kg, whereas the NP group lost 3.5kg of fat

Neither lost muscle: the NP group had no change in lean mass, but the HP group gained 1.2kg (2.5lbs) of lean muscle mass

The HP group had a 20% decrease in body fat, finishing with 18%; the NP had a 15% decrease in body fat and finished with 21%


This was considered to be a breakthrough study as it’s one of the first studies to show that when diet, exercise, and nutrient timing are carefully controlled, it’s possible to lose a substantial amount of fat and build muscle is a somewhat short period of time

"Researchers concluded that the main reasons for this were:

HIIT (sprint) workouts on the bike likely increased levels of fat burning enzymes and boosted the rate of fat oxidation during the workout and in the post-exercise period - all the weight lost in both groups was from body fat with none coming from lean mass

HP group consumption of 2.4g/kg consistently triggered muscle protein synthesis and reduced protein breakdown allowing for participants to achieve a greater anabolic environment

Large dose of (whey) protein in the range of 50g may be necessary to maximally trigger protein synthesis and promote muscle gain when subjects are dieting"

Also could have been due to the timing of protein supplementation and the exercise intensity, which could be important in increasing or maintaining LBM while in a severe energy deficit

The high-intensity exercise participants were subjected to likely enhanced their capacity for fat oxidation and may have induced an increase in muscle mitochondrial enzyme activity

The data suggests that during a substantial energy deficit, higher protein consumption resulted in an increased stimulation of MPS and/or a suppression of proteolysis

The addition of resistance exercise, which acts synergistically to stimulate MPS even in an energy deficit likely helped as well

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