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Nutrition » Diets » Body Recomposition Diet: Pull Off The Ultimate Fitness Dream

Body Recomposition Diet: Pull Off The Ultimate Fitness Dream

is cardio important for body recomposition diet

Body Recomposition Diet

Body recomposition is seen by many as the holy grail of fitness. It is not actually new. For the longest time, only athletes and people who were really into fitness were doing it. In the past decade, fitness has become important to almost everyone. You will find more people enrolling in the gym and people who are conscious about their weight. Just like that, people have made their way to body recomposition. What is body recomposition? Which is the best body recomposition diet?

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It should be noted that body recomposition is not the easiest thing to accomplish. This is because it involves a body recomposition diet plan and workout plan that may be difficult to follow. There is a reason it was left for athletes for such a long period. This is not to discourage you, but to tell you that what you are signing up for is not easy. However, it is also good to remember that just because something is tough, does not mean it is impossible. 

Body Composition

The term recomposition is defined as the action of composing or forming something again or differently (10). But before we can recompose the body, we should first ask, what is the body composed of?

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Body composition refers to all things in your body split up into different compartments. The two main compartments we look at in fitness are fat mass and fat-free mass. Just from the names, you can easily tell what each contains. The fat mass refers to all the fat tissues in one’s body, while fat-free mass involves everything else like the various organs, muscles, bones, and fluids in your body (8).

Most of us, when we are talking about losing weight, are usually talking about losing fat mass. Although that is important, the wholesome idea is to lose fat mass weight while gaining free-fat mass or commonly known as muscles. The whole idea of body recomposition is based on this. 

What then happens if one loses four pounds of fat mass and gains four pounds of muscle mass?

If you weigh yourself on a scale, it may seem as if nothing has happened. When in reality, you’ve lost fat mass, which is said to cause a lot of chronic diseases, and gain muscle mass, which helps you live longer with a healthier body (5).

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How to Assess Your Body Composition?

There are various ways in which you can assess your body composition. Some are very simple, but it goes without saying that the most accurate ones are from medical centers that professionals use. It is therefore advisable to visit an expert for accurate results and better advice.  

Tracking Your Body Circumference

This is a method you can do right at home. You do this by tracking the circumference of your different body parts to see if there are any changes or not. The first step is to take initial measurements before you start any diet plan or exercise. This ensures you have figures to compare to and that you are not just cooking up your figures. The next thing is to take the measurements again after some time (8).

Once you take the second measurement you will have a rough idea as to how your journey to attaining a better body composition is coming along. If your waist circumference is smaller than the initial circumference, it means you are losing your belly fat. If you have started lifting weights, an increase in your arms circumference could indicate you are gaining muscles.

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Take Progress Pictures

This is a common method that most of us have surely come across. You may be scrolling your Instagram feed and see a before and after picture of someone. This is exactly what we are talking about. Take an initial photo to see how your body looks. After some time has passed take another picture and compare the two. Is your body more toned in the second picture? Does it look like you have muscles? How about abs? If you can’t see any changes it is always advisable to ask another person what they can see (8).

Using Equipment that Measure Body Composition

There are instruments you can buy that can measure your body composition. Most of these devices use a technology called bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA). The bioelectrical impedance analysis works by sending electrical currents through your body so that they can see how much your body resists the current. This information is used to predict your body fat percentage. These devices give you a number, and surely it is more objective to use this than measuring the circumference of your body parts or taking numerous photos of yourself (8).

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What is Body Recomposition? 

Body recomposition is the process of losing fat mass while gaining muscle mass. It is not common to everyone. Most people usually go to the gym to cut off those extra pounds and never think of this. It is usually such a confusing process for most people. The best way to describe this would be if you’ve ever said you want to tone your body, or you’ve ever heard a person talk about it, just know they were referring to body recomposition. This is because you are losing that saggy fat mass and transforming it into tight body muscles. 

Another thing that makes this process quite confusing is the fact that two things that are opposite are supposed to happen simultaneously. Losing fat mass while gaining muscle mass requires different actions. Weight loss is a catabolic process whereby the body breaks down fats stored for energy (15). For this to happen, calorie deficit through either nutrition or exercise needs to be introduced.

It is one of many reasons why the calorie-in-calorie-out approach to weight loss is usually effective for so many people. In addition to this, your daily calorie intake needs to reduce compared to the number of calories you take in a day. This will then make your body use the stored fat mass for energy, hence results in you losing weight.

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Why does losing weight important?

Losing weight is important to an individual because (12):

  • It leads to decreased chances of getting type 2 diabetes.
  • It leads to lower blood pressure.
  • It helps improve your cholesterol levels.
  • It helps reduce the risk of getting heart diseases.
  • It leads to decreased chances of getting certain cancers.
  • It helps improve your mobility.
  • It helps improve blood sugar levels.
  • It helps reduce the chances of getting a stroke.
  • It reduces back pain.

While losing weight is a catabolic process, gaining muscles is an anabolic process (15). This process requires exercise as well as the adequate macronutrients a body needs. It needs some macronutrients in amounts larger than the normal amounts. A good example: a protein.

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Why does gaining muscles important?

Gaining muscles is important to an individual because (1):

  • They help increase your metabolic rate.
  • Muscles also help fortify the bones, ligaments, and tendons. 
  • They also make everyday work and activities easier. 
  • They give your body a good shape. 
  • Muscles make you physically stronger 

Now, how can one accomplish body recomposition then? It is important to note that body recomposition is more of a lifestyle. It is something you have to adapt to, doing it to get the required or desired results. Body recomposition requires one to find a balance between muscle gain and fat loss. It is advisable to consult an expert on this if you find it harder to find the right balance. A professional will help design the best body recomposition food plan for you. He or she will also help you design the best work out plan for you to lose weight, as well as the best work out plan for you to gain muscles.

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Things You Need to Keep in Mind about Body Recomposition

  • It takes a long period

Have you ever seen those before and after pictures of a person and they look as if they went back to heaven to get created again, but this time with their specifications? Where fat John Doe is now all bulk with a well-toned body? Well, that is body recomposition at its best. Do you think all this happens overnight? No, it does not. It takes over a long period of making a healthy eating plan and exercising part of your life (3).

  • Discipline is a key

This is true for all kinds of fitness plans and especially this one. It is easy to revert to your ways of not exercising, and eating all the burgers and French fries you want. Before you commit yourself to body recomposition, you need to look deep down your soul and ask yourself if you’ll be able to stick to what you are supposed to do.

Will you wake up early in the morning even when it is raining to go to the gym? Will you make a conscious decision to stick to your body recomposition ketogenic diet everyday? Think about all the money you’ll have wasted if you quit while in the middle. Think about all the time you’ll have wasted if you quit? It is better not to begin it at all and stick to regular weight loss exercises than start then stop.

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  • Weight is just a number

Most people who are trying to lose weight usually measure their success through a scale. They are usually quite happy if there is a decrease in the number showing. Not to burst their bubble, but the only problem with this is that it only measures one aspect, and scales don’t differentiate between fat loss and muscle loss. To a scale, a loss is a loss. During body recomposition, you will lose fat mass and gain muscles.

To a scale, if you lose the same number of fat mass as the number of muscles you gain, it will show you’ve done nothing. If you gain more muscle mass, it will show you are gaining weight. Hence in body recomposition stop concentrating on what a scale says and focus on all-round progress, also to things that matter like strength, ability, endurance, and health (5, 14).

In this journey, you don’t need to focus on how much you weigh but with your body composition. Is your body leaner and more toned? Isn’t that what you were going for? To add to that, at least you’ll be able to fit in your old clothes since most of the time you remain around the same weight. 

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  • Calorie Cycling is the way to go

This is the most recommended diet for body recomposition. Although there are many dynamics to it, in simple terms it is consuming the calories that your body needs that particular day. It is the modification of nutrition on certain days. Body recomposition is a fitness plan that involves losing fat mass as you gain muscle mass. To lose fat mass you need to consume fewer calories than you require, meanwhile, in order to gain muscle mass you have to eat certain foods as well as do resistance exercises that require a lot of energy (2).

The main idea behind cycling calories is eating more calories on days when you are seriously training and eating fewer calories during days of rest. There are things you need to figure out before you can start cycling calories. The first thing you need to figure out is your maintenance calorie needs (4).

Your maintenance calorie

Your maintenance calorie requirement is the number of calories your body needs to carry out its daily activities. It is practically the amount of calories your body requires to create energy to carry out basic vital functions like pumping blood and breathing. You can get this number through your dietician, nutritionist, or any professional. You can also get it online through certain websites. An example of such a website would be the Mayoclinic website (6).

Once you know your maintenance calorie, it is now easy to cycle your calories. You are supposed to consume more calories on days on which you train. Training here is any day you perform weight training exercises for more than thirty minutes (11). It should be intense training. A good example of this is resistance training.

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Calories and cardio exercises

On days when you do cardio exercises, you should consume enough calories to meet your maintenance number. This will mean that you will have a small deficit that will promote weight loss. If you eat a lot of calories on such days, you will be doing zero work as only the excess calories will be used up, hence resulting in no fat mass loss. You should also make sure the deficit is not that large that the body ends up using the stored muscle tissue. We don’t want that to happen as we need that muscle.

Calories and resistance training

On the other days when you are doing serious training (resistance training) for more than thirty intense minutes, make sure you uptake more calories than your maintenance calories. You should eat more proteins as they facilitate the building of muscles. Depending on how much muscle you want to get, you can add five to fifteen percent of your maintenance calorie needs to your diet. Five if you don’t want to gain a lot and fifteen if you want to build more. Remember this must be accompanied by exercises. If you add fifteen percent, you have to work harder than the person who only added five percent. 

On your rest days or days when you don’t work out at all, you should reduce your calorie intake by about five to ten percent. It is also advisable to have rest days in your work out plans. You could have two days of cardio, three days of strength training, and two days of rest.

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Simple body recomposition workout and diet plan

Here is a breakdown of a simple body recomposition workout and diet plan you can follow: 

DAY

ACTIVITY 

CALORIES AND NUTRIENTS

MONDAYSTRENGTH TRAINING CALORIE SURPLUS, ADD EXTRA PROTEIN TO THE DIET
TUESDAYCARDIOMAINTENANCE CALORIES
WEDNESDAYREST CALORIE DEFICIT
THURSDAYINTERVAL TRAINING AND RESISTANCE EXERCISESMAINTENANCE CALORIES PLUS EXTRA PROTEIN TO YOUR DIET
FRIDAYCARDIOMAINTENANCE CALORIES
SATURDAY STRENGTH TRAININGCALORIE SURPLUS DIET WITH EXTRA PROTEINS
SUNDAYREST CALORIE DEFICIT 
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Body Recomposition Diet for Men and Women

We can’t say that there is a food plan which everyone in the journey of body decomposition should follow. This is because different people have different calorie needs. With that said, there are, however, some foods you need to include in your diet. These foods have some nutritional values that make them essential to the body during recomposition. 

Avocado

During body decomposition, you need foods that can help build muscles without adding unnecessary fats to your body. Avocados help achieve all this. This is because they contain protein, the amount of which is higher in avocados than in most fruits. Proteins are necessary for building muscles. If that was not enough, avocados have what people refer to as the good fat. This is monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids. These fats help promote better health for the heart and also promote digestion. In addition to that, they trigger the release of bile from the pancreas which helps get rid of toxins from the body (13).

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Beans

The fact that they are plant proteins means they automatically are rich in proteins. Half a cup of beans contains seven grams of proteins. Beans are also good at regulating blood sugar levels and regulating cholesterol levels due to their high fiber content (13).

Salmon

This is one of those foods that contain almost everything you need. It is rich in Vitamin A and B, it is high in omega-3 fatty acids, and also it contains as much as 19 grams of proteins in a serving (13).

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Brussels Sprouts

Although most of us don’t like how they smell, they are quite useful during this period. Every cup of brussels sprouts contains as much as three grams of proteins (13).

Beetroot Juice

It is rich in antioxidants and nitrates. This juice can enhance nitric oxide which allows your body to perform better during workouts. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator, thus helps increase blood flow through the body (13).

Blueberries

Just like beetroot juice, it contains so many antioxidants. They are known to help you recover from an intense workout. Since intense workouts are what you’ll be doing most of the time. They fit just right into your body recomposition diet (13).

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Quinoa

They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Quinoa is not only grain but also a complete protein. A full cup of the cooked quinoa contains five grams of fiber. Also, fiber can improve bowel movements. Eight grams of protein make up one cup of cooked quinoa, and this super grain contains a substantial amount of leucine. Leucine triggers the mammalian target of rapamycin pathway, and this pathway regulates the repair and growth of muscle tissue (13).

The Bottom Line

As you have seen, there is no recomposition diet for men or women that can work or is recommended for everyone. That is not to say that you cannot create yours. All you need to create your own effective body recomposition diet is in this article. You need to find your maintenance calorie needs. Once you have that, you need to know how much you will be consuming during workout days and how much to consume on rest days. 

You need to avoid highly processed foods, fast foods, and foods with high calories that you don’t need (5). Incorporate as many proteins as you can to your diet (9). A high protein body recomposition diet is the way to go. You need to include high intensity workouts into your fitness journey, as they are what you need to build those much-needed muscles. While doing this, you should not also forget your cardio as it will help lose the fat mass. Try all these, and you will truly get the results you desire. If that does not happen, it is always advised to consult a professional.

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FAQs

How do I train my body for recomposition?

  1. Strength training should be done at least three times every week. Strength training should go for at least thirty minutes and should involve weight lifting (7).
  2. Focus on the compound, multi-joint movements. Squats and deadlifts are in, wrist curls and kickbacks are out.
  3. Strict rest intervals of 30-60 seconds.
  4. Keep reps in the 8-15 rep bracket.
  5. Alternate between upper and lower body, or opposing movements.

If you want your weight loss plan to be efficient, don’t forget to do some exercise on the regular basis. Check out this 20-min Full Body Workout at Home.

DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this

SOURCES:

  1. 5 reasons why you should build muscle (2017, myactivesg.com)
  2. Body Recomposition: How Does it Really Work? (n.d., lifehack.org)
  3. Body recomposition: How to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time ( 2020, cnet.com)
  4. Body Recomposition: Losing Fat And Gaining Muscle At The Same Time (n.d., askmen.com)
  5. Body Recomposition: Lose Fat and Gain Muscle at the Same Time (2018, healthline.com)
  6. Calorie Calculator ( n.d. mayoclinic.org)
  7. How to Build Muscle and Lose Fat with Body Recomposition ( n.d. life.spartan.com)
  8. How to Improve Body Composition, Based on Science (2017, healthline.com)
  9. How to Pull Off a Body Recomposition in 5 Simple Steps ( n.d., legionathletics.com)
  10. Recomposition (n.d., lexico.com)
  11. The Basics of Body Recomposition: How to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle (n.d., myfitnesspal.com)
  12. The Benefits of Losing Weight (2019, verywellfit.com)
  13. THE CLEAN EATING MEAL PLAN FOR EFFECTIVE RECOMPOSITION (n.d., muscleandfitness.com)
  14. This Fitness Blogger Proves Weight Is Just a Number ( n.d., shape.com)
  15. Why Body Recomposition Is the New Weight Loss ( n.d., shape.com)
Ben William

Ben William

Ben is an experienced writer who is no stranger to fitness. His career goal is not only to educate people on proper exercising but also help them recognize the profound importance of healthy nutrition. As a writer, his top priority is to foster awareness about healthy lifestyle and encourage more people to transform their bodies and kick their deep-rooted habits. Ben strongly believes that anyone can achieve their fitness goals, as long as they work hard, stay on track and keep a positive mindset.

Kristen Fleming

Kristen Fleming

I am a U.S. educated and trained Registered Dietitian (MS, RD, CNSC) with clinical and international development experience. I have experience conducting systematic reviews and evaluating the scientific literature both as a graduate student and later to inform my own evidence-based practice as an RD. I am currently based in Lusaka, Zambia after my Peace Corps service was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic and looking for some meaningful work to do as I figure out next steps. This would be my first freelance project, but I am a diligent worker and quite used to independent and self-motivated work.

Kristen Fleming, MS, RD, CNSC

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