Whether for physique and appearance or for health and longevity, most people’s goal for their body is to build muscle and lose fat.
This is a concept referred to as “body recomposition”. Your body composition is the amount of muscle mass and fat mass you carry, they are both directly impacted by the workouts you do and the foods you eat. However, a recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning revealed that some other factors play a big role in our ability to change our composition!
The report was testing if trained individuals could experience body recomposition (increased muscle and decreased fat mass at the same time). A brand new athlete likely won’t have a hard time seeing this type of change but after a few years of continuous training and consistent nutrition, this change can get more challenging due to the body’s ability to adapt and adjust to achieve its goal of homeostasis (staying the same).
The study concluded that trained individuals can, in fact, lose fat and build muscle simultaneously just as novice/obese individuals can. What did they do to see these changes? “Resistance training coupled with dietary strategies” – of course…lift weights to build muscles and eat along guidelines to encourage fat loss.
Along with eating and training, they found there were confounding non-training/nutrition variables that had a significant influence on the ability for the body to adapt to building muscle and losing body fat at the same time.
These variables included: Sleep, Hormones and Metabolism.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…SLEEP is the best performance and health enhancing secret. Get in bed at the same time every night, don’t bring your phone or tablet with you, stay there for 8-10 hours, preferably being asleep for at least 7 hours…but 8 is better and 9 is great. Wake up at the same time every morning, get out of the bed after you wake up (no snooze buttons), and get some gentle movement and/or sunshine as soon as you can.
If that full list seems to tough, pick one thing in that list and do it better. Your body will thank you.
Improving your hormones and metabolism aren’t quite as controllable in your hands as sleep (that’s why you’re going to focus on fixing your sleep before blaming your metabolism, okay?). Fortunately, sleeping can help create more balance in your hormones therefore positively impacting your metabolism as well. Eating whole foods, plenty of nutrients and drinking enough water can help your hormone levels too.
Your metabolism is majority fueled by the amount of muscle mass you have. Muscle make your body “run hotter” on the inside, burning more energy even when you’re sitting completely still. So, the more muscle you have overall the easier it will be to lose body fat because those muscles will do a lot of the work for you paired with a nutrition plan.
Majority of our members would now be considered “trained individuals”, if you’ve had at least a year of consistent training and noticing the “newbie” changes are harder to come by, have faith that it is not impossible to see a positive change in your body composition!
It’s important to note that nowhere in this study was it mentioned that increasing cardio or metcons would create any body recomposition. Adding in more running or doing the metcon 7 days per week will not lead to building muscle and losing body fat. Reducing your “cardio” days to substitute strictly weight training days will have a more of an impact on your body composition.