My name is Gabby.  

I lost half my body weight through exercise and eating right.

 I'm here to motivate you, inspire you, and make you laugh on your journey to a healthier and happier lifestyle.

Can You Lose Weight and Gain Muscle at the Same Time?

Can You Lose Weight and Gain Muscle at the Same Time?

Warning: Adult language

Please do not read any further if you are offended by adult language.


photo credit: pixabay.com

photo credit: pixabay.com

Well, yes and no. 

What the hell kind of answer is that? Don't worry, I'll explain it.

Here's the dealio.

In order to lose fat, you need to have an intake of fewer calories than you burn. Normally if you are losing fat, your muscles are not getting the fuel they need to grow larger. In order to build muscle, you need to have an intake of more calories than you burn. 

Hmmm, I'm sure you've noticed that the above paragraph states that the requirements for losing fat are the exact opposite of those for building muscle. So one would automatically conclude that you in fact cannot lose fat and build muscle at the same time. Not so fast Holmes...it's not that simple.

Well actually...if you're a seasoned weight lifter or bodybuilder, it IS that simple. You in fact cannot do both at the same time. If you are an experienced weight trainer, you have to either lose fat OR build muscle. You must do them in separate phases and not at the same time. But 99% of the population are NOT bodybuilders. So don't get discouraged yet. Keep reading. I promise there's some good shit in here.  

The longer you lift, the harder it is to build muscle. Your body has it's limits. After weight lifting or weight training for a lengthy amount of time, building even more muscle is a challenge. It's a lot like if you have lost most of your weight and have that last 5-10 pounds to go. It's often the last little bit of weight that is the most difficult to drop. Your body gets to the point where it's saying, 'haven't I done enough already?' So if you have been weight training hardcore for years, it's going to be harder to lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously.

Now, before I get into specifics, I need to go off the subject a tiny bit and interject here. Not only are there different ways to weight train, but there are also different levels of weight training. You have to first figure out your goal.

Are you going for more of a 'model' look where you just want a hint of definition and look lean? Or do you want to look more athletic with more definition resulting in tight arms and legs and some nice sculpting of your abs? Or maybe you are going for balls-to-the-wall and wanna be ripped all Arnold-style? 

How you want to look depends on how you will train. And how you train depends on how much fat you can lose and how much muscle you can gain.

Picking one of the three goals:

1. If it's a subtle definition that you want, you will have no problem achieving that while you are losing weight.

This is due to the fact you will not be taxing your muscles to the point where you will be hitting muscle-building plateaus. It is in this instance that weight loss will be the easiest.

2. If you want to achieve a more athletic and sculpted body, your weight loss will be somewhat slowed but still doable.

Again, you won't be pushing your muscles to the utmost limit. You will probably end up hitting some plateaus along the way, but this is to be expected and can be easily remedied by changing up your routine and stepping up the intensity. This is the category I fell in when I started. I wanted an athletic look that was definitely more defined than a slender-looking person but not as much as a body builder.

My weight loss maintained at a steady pace for 17 solid months, averaging about 5 pounds a month (that includes building muscle, which is three times more dense than fat!). But because I constantly changed my routines and forms of weight training, I NEVER hit a plateau, not ONCE!

In the very beginning (the first 4 months) I ran into problems due to insulin resistance but after that was solved, shit ran smoothly and consistently. It was astounding! I never in my life experienced such success and at such a constant rate. Absolutely incredible!

{You can read more about my problems losing weight because of insulin resistance in my article, "In the Beginning It Was Tough As Hell".}

3. Now, if you'd like to have a bodybuilder's body, this is where losing fat at the same time is very difficult.

It can really only be truly achieved by having one goal at a time. When the goal is working on losing fat, you'll be paying attention to caloric intake and front-loading your exercise regimen with cardio and much less focus on weight training. Doing a lot of weight training while trying to lose fat can compromise your fat loss. However, when the goal is working on muscle building, you'll have a high caloric intake and you'll be front-loading your exercise regimen with hardcore weight training and very little if any cardio. Doing a lot of cardio while strength training can compromise your muscle mass. So if your goal is becoming the next Arnold, you are gonna have a harder time losing the fat.

But I'm figuring most of my blog readers are in the 'beginner' category. Moreover, I'm assuming that most of you aren't looking to make a Terminator sequel and that you fall somewhere in between wanting a lean body and a sculpted body. 

For those of you who are new to weight training or have only ever tinkered with it, you are in luck my friends. You have hit the flippin' weight training lottery!

Okay, I know you're all thinking I've lost my mind. WTH is this chick talking about? Let me explain. 

There is a glorious phenomenon in the weight training world and it goes by the name NEWBIE GAINS. Oh man, wait until you hear about this shit! Woo hoo!

How do you know if you're a newbie?

  • You have never weight trained before.
  • You haven't weight trained in a year or more

What are Newbie Gains?

When Newbies start to weight train, their bodies experience a huge shock. The body has to immediately start building muscle fibers and gain strength to keep up with all the new demands. This happens at a rapid pace. You will find you become much, much stronger very quickly. This quick muscle gain is called an efficiency gain. 

Efficiency gains allow you to bump up weight at a fast pace, meaning you can quickly lift more weight. At the same time this is happening, your body is able to lose large amounts of fat. It is only in this Newbie stage that your body will allow huge amounts of fat loss while still building muscle. This is where all the above rules of caloric deficits and caloric intakes fly out the window like a bat out of hell.

In this stage, your body doesn't care if you aren't giving it more calories (what is usually required for muscles to grow). All it cares about is trying to keep up with all these crazy new changes. It's building muscle like it's never built before.

Your body is essentially...confused. You've never lifted anything heavy repeatedly before. You've never put your body to the test before. You've never taxed your muscles before and worked the hell out of them. Your body is trying to adapt. 

The body is this magnificent machine that we all take for granted. It is so resilient and miraculous. It does what we need it to do, what we tell it to do. If all we tell it to do is sit on the couch and pound down wings and fries, it will get fatter and become weak. If we tell it to lift weights and give it nutritious food, it'll get leaner and become strong. It will build muscle so that we can continue lifting those weights. 

So take advantage of these Newbie Gains! They are amazing!

Newbie gains will last anywhere from about 8-12 months, depending on the individual, how you train, and your genetics. By then, even if you still have weight to lose, your metabolism will be running like a freight train and you will be golden.

If you had once trained correctly and regularly but fell out of it, you too will experience the magic of newbie gains. However, the reason for this is actually not so much because they are actually experiencing newbie gains but rather they are experiencing MUSCLE MEMORY. Muscle memory happens after a long lay off from weight training.

Once you go back to it, a year or more later, it is very easy to go back to your previous levels of strength and size. It's even easier than it was the first time around! There have been many studies pertaining to muscle memory (I'm not going to cause your eyes to roll back in your head by citing all the scientific lingo and findings that involve the Myosin Heavy Chains, MHC). These studies have proven that there are in fact long-term changes in the skeletal muscle that occur as a result from weight training. When we are away from weight training for long periods of time and get back into it, our muscles do indeed remember what they once were, and build very quickly up to that level again. 

The body is amazing. It will do what it knows...and it knows only what you tell it. 


Weight training isn't hard. It's just like anything else in life, you have to learn how. Before you know it, you'll be a pro and wondering why you didn't start years ago. The benefits of weight training are enormous, not only on a physical level but an emotional one as well. It gets you fit, healthy, and stronger. It also elevates your mood as well as your self-confidence. The positives are endless, the negatives...uh...well, there are none.  

{To find out about how to start building muscle and unleashing your sexy, read my article, "Weight Training 101: For The Ladies: (3 Workout Videos Included!)." It will include all the basics to get you started.}

Remember, there is a wealth of information out there. Scan the web and you will find dozens and dozens of great beginner weight training routines. The information is there for the taking. Get your piece of the pie! Actually...stay the hell away from the pie ;)

“Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic”
— Dave Barry


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*The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content in this article is for general information purposes only. I am not a doctor, nor am I a dietitian. Talk to your physician before making any changes in your diet or exercise regimen. The information found in this article is from various sources which include, but are not limited to, the sites listed above. I encourage you to do your own research and talk with your physician before making any changes in diet or exercise. What has worked for me may not work for you. This information in this article or on this website should never replace or serve as medical advice.


WEIGHT TRAINING 101: For the Ladies (3 Workout videos included)

WEIGHT TRAINING 101: For the Ladies (3 Workout videos included)