Blog Fitness Body Recomposition: Here’s How To Lose Fat And Gain Muscle All At The Same Time

Body Recomposition: Here’s How To Lose Fat And Gain Muscle All At The Same Time

Losing weight is not always as straightforward as it sounds. Perhaps at first, all you want to do is shed some fat. However, you may eventually develop the urge to have a more sculpted physique and build muscle. This is where the problem comes in. The two fitness goals are considered to be diametrical opposites.

Essentially, losing fat means cutting your calorie intake. However, building muscles involves increasing your calorie intake. Our bodies are smarter than we give them credit for. With the right balance between diet and exercise, it is possible to achieve both goals simultaneously. Let’s find out how.

What Is Body Recomposition?

Before going into detail about what body recomposition is, we need to understand the basics of body composition. Quite simply, body composition is the ratio between your lean body mass and fat mass. Lean mass is the total weight of your bones, ligaments, muscles, organs, and other tissues. Fat mass is the quantity of fat that is stored in your body.

Analyzing your body composition will give you a better understanding of your fitness. This is mainly because your body fat percentage in relation to your muscle mass paints a more accurate picture of the makeup of your body.

Therefore, body recomposition is all about changing the ratio of your lean mass to fat mass. The goal is generally to balance the two aspects by losing body fat while gaining muscle mass. This process is meant to occur simultaneously, not separately. Body recomposition will therefore focus on your body composition instead of your weight.

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How to Do a Body Recomposition

Body recomposition is all about your overall lifestyle pattern. There is no set-in-stone protocol to approach it with. This also implies that there are no body recomposition specifics for men and women that will differ from each other. 

Instead, it’s about tuning your diet and workout regimen to a way that best facilitates body recomposition. Here are some tips on how you can go about this process safely and effectively:

Eat Enough Protein

Several questions are generally raised regarding how to eat for a body recomposition cycle. When it comes to dietary plans, a high protein diet is arguably the best body recomposition diet (9). Of all the body recomposition macros, protein is probably the most recommended, and for good reason. Getting enough protein will help you lose fat while gaining muscle.

Therefore, if you want to pull off an effective body recomposition, you should eat enough protein. Multiple studies support this claim. This one found that a high-protein diet helps trained athletes maintain or gain muscle mass while they lose fat during a period of calorie restriction (1).

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Your Ultimate Guide On What To Eat Before Early Morning Workout Bodybuilding Sessions

So it’s not always about which body recomposition workout is the best. Sometimes, what and how you eat can make a huge difference in the equation.

body recomposition  

Start Lifting Weights

Lifting weights will go a long way to maintaining a growth stimulus on your muscles. However, you must be careful about how often you lift weights. You don’t want to overdo it to the extent where your muscles don’t get enough recovery time. Going too hard and too fast may end up being counterproductive as you’ll already be in a caloric deficit.

Calorie cycling is also important whenever you’re lifting weights (4). This means you’ll be alternating between eating more calories on days when you exercise and fewer on days when you don’t. Ideally, you’ll take breaks between your sessions to achieve this.

For more efficiency, you should focus on high per-muscle training frequency. All your workouts should either be upper-lower split or full-body exercises. Here are some practical guidelines you should follow:

  1. If you’re a novice, you should do upper-lower splits 3 days a week (2).
  2. For early intermediate trainees, upper-lower exercises 4 days a week or full-body workouts three days a week (2).
  3. Late intermediate trainees should do either upper-lower exercises 5 days a week or full-body workouts four days a week (2).
  4. Advanced trainees will benefit most from upper-lower exercises 6 days a week or full-body exercises four days a week (2).

Your workouts should be comprised of 20-35 sets if you’re doing full-body exercise. However, if you’re doing upper-lower splits, you should try to hit between 15 and 25 sets (2). You also need to spread out these workouts as evenly as possible throughout the week.

HIIT Training May Help Speed Things Up

Sometimes you read articles with titles such as “Body recomposition bodybuilding workouts” and can’t help but wonder what the fuss is all about. Do you always need to hit the gym for these types of workouts to achieve your goal? Not according to this research.

The study found that HIIT routines may have several benefits. For example, it helped obese men reduce their body fat mass, increase physical performance, and improve cardiometabolic health markers (6).

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Keep Track of Your Weekly Target Calorie Balance

Keeping track of your weekly calorie balance will help you know if you’re moving in the right direction. If you’re not, you can employ mitigating measures. What you need to do first is calculate your long-term calorie balance.

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Understanding Static & Dynamic Balance: Definition, Importance, Testing, Exercises, And More

However, you should start by finding out how fast you should be losing fat and gaining muscle. The following are some benchmarks to aim for in a standardized body recomposition schedule:

Building Muscles

  1. For novice trainees, a 0.5% gain in your body weight weekly should suffice (5).
  2. Early intermediate trainees should work toward a 0.3% gain in their body weight weekly (5).
  3. If you’re a late intermediate trainee, a 0.2% gain in your body weight should be just fine (5).
  4. A 0.1% increase in body weight should be enough for advanced trainees (5).

Note: Advanced trainees won’t gain significant amounts of muscle through body recomposition. If you’re in this category, it’s advisable to focus more on lean bulking to see maximum results.

Losing Fat

  1. For obese men (over 30% body fat) and women (over 40% body fat): aim to lose 2% of your body weight per week (5).
  2. If you’re overweight (32-40% body fat for women and 22-30% body for men): aim to lose 1.25% of your body weight per week (5).
  3. If you have an average BMI (24-32% of body fat for women and 15-22% of body fat for men): aim to lose 0.75% of your body weight per week (5).
  4. For more athletic individuals (14-24% body fat for women and 8-15% body fat for men): aim to lose 0.5% of your body weight per week (5).
  5. For bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts (below 14% body fat for women and below 8% body fat for men): a weekly drop of 0.2% of your body weight should suffice (5).

Note: Body recomposition is not generally recommended for those who are obese or incredibly lean. Cutting will best serve the former group, while bulking may be a good fit for the latter. However, it ultimately comes down to your specific fitness goals.

Theoretically, you’ll need a caloric deficit of approximately 3,800 calories to lose one pound of fat, while to build one pound of muscle, you’ll need a caloric surplus of 1,600 calories (5). Taking these figures and multiplying them by your weekly composition goals will give you your weekly target balance. Let’s look at this example to explain this concept further.

body recomposition  

In this case, our subject is a man who weighs 170 pounds with 20% body fat and is an intermediate-level trainee. This means he aims to lose 1.275 pounds a week, which basically translates to a 4,845 calorie deficit. In addition, a 0.51 gain in muscle mass weekly at an 816 caloric surplus is part of his fitness goals.

When these two figures are added, the net weekly caloric deficit becomes 4,029 calories. Most people end up with a caloric deficit when they try to perform body recomposition. Ending up with a calorie surplus is incredibly rare but can still happen.

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Limit Your Cardio

According to this study, doing weight training and cardio exercises simultaneously may ultimately make both less effective. This phenomenon is known as the interference effect (8). 

What this causes in your body is a drop in both muscle and the cardiovascular health effects that arise from cardio. When you’re in a calorie deficit, the interference effect may prevent gains in muscle mass (10).

However, limiting your cardio is not the same as eliminating cardio from your workout routines. Cardio is particularly good for your health and it’ll help you burn extra calories (10). This will make you achieve your fat-loss goals quicker if you eat enough for your body’s nutritional needs.

You could incorporate the following guidelines into your cardio routines to stop them interfering with your muscle gain targets:

  1. Keep your cardio sessions short and intense. For example, you could try HIIT sprinting instead of distance running. This will make your metabolic demands almost similar to those imposed by weight training.
  2. Always separate your weight training sessions from your cardio workouts. Adopt a “different time/day” policy. This essentially means that if you do cardio in the morning, you should lift weights in the afternoon. Better still, do them on different days.
  3. Limit the amount of cardio you do. You should fundamentally focus on lifting weights. Therefore, you should spend less time each week on your cardio exercises than lifting weights.

However, if you have to perform cardio in conjunction with lifting weights, you should follow this protocol: start with an upper-lower split followed by upper-body cardio on your leg days, and follow this with lower-body cardio on your upper-body lifting days.

Start Calorie Cycling

Calorie cycling simply means alternating between your consumption of more calories and fewer calories. Ideally, you should take a small caloric surplus for a while after your workouts. This is then followed by fewer calories (a moderate deficit) for the remainder of the week (4).

But why should you go through all that trouble? The logic is simple. It is believed that the more recently your muscles have been resistance-trained, the more susceptible they’ll be to growth. Your muscles will grow better and more effectively during this period (13).

As this is a body recomposition program, it’s paramount that you spend most of your week in a calorie deficit.

Therefore, you should lean toward keeping your post-workout refeeding windows short, perhaps even shorter than your muscles’ anabolic window. Try adopting the following guidelines depending on your training level:

  1. For novice trainees, keep it at 24 hours.
  2. For early intermediate trainees, 16 hours should be enough.
  3. For late intermediate trainees, 10 hours should be adequate.
  4. For advanced trainees, a 6-hour window should suffice.
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Let’s use the previous example to elaborate on this further. The working assumption here is that he’s an intermediate trainee. He also does full-body workouts three days a week and eats three meals a day. He trains shortly before dinner.

Simply put, his refeeding window includes his dinner on the day he trains and his breakfast the following day. In other words, 6 out of 21 meals every week. Next, we assume that his daily maintenance calories average 2,400 calories or 800 calories per meal. If he divides his calorie intake evenly throughout the week, he’ll need to eat 610 calories per meal.

However, this may not be the best approach. Instead, he should eat less than this amount for the 15 meals outside of the refeeding window. In this case, this is approximately 500 calories. The extra 1,500 calories should be added to the 6 meals that fall inside the post-workout window.

The majority of them should go to the meals earlier in the window (dinner). This becomes 900 calories for dinner (an extra 300 calories) and 810 calories for breakfast (an extra 200 calories). This still gives a total deficit of 4,000 calories.

This math may seem complicated, but here’s how you can simplify it. The general rule is to spread out 80-85% of your weekly calories evenly between meals. 15-25% of your weekly calories should be allocated to meals that fall in the post-workout window. This is on top of the meals’ share of the 80-85% (11).

In our hypothetical case, the trainee consumes 12,600 calories weekly. He then allocates approximately 12% of the total (1,500 calories) as the extra calories for his re-feeding window. This kind of calorie cycling is considered highly conservative. He could even make the calorie cycle harder if he’s willing to eat less for 15 meals a week.

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Get 8-9 Hours of Sleep Every Night and Avoid Stress

Keeping your stress levels low and getting enough quality sleep is essential for your body’s recomposition process. Ignoring these two aspects may lead to gaining both muscle and fat mass or losing both.

Testosterone production and recovery from exercise are generally at their peak when you’re asleep. You’ll find that people with poor sleeping habits end up losing muscles and gaining fat (12). Therefore, it’s recommended that you strive to get 8-9 hours of sleep each night during body recomposition.

In this study, the impact of high and low stress levels on building muscles was examined. The results suggest that the difference could significantly impact your ability to recover after a workout, which is essential in the muscle-building process (3). In addition, the stress hormone cortisol can lead to fat build-up around your belly.

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The 7 Different Types Of Stretching Exercises: How To Do Them And Their Benefits

Adjusting your lifestyle is the best way to fix stress in the long term. You should avoid stressful factors in every aspect of your life as often as you can. However, this is not always practical and you may find yourself in stressful situations you can’t avoid. If you do, you should try to remain calm and composed and avoid overreacting.

Activities such as meditating can help in the short and long term. So, now you know how to do a body recomposition. It’s important to note that there’s no significant difference in how to do this for women and men. The principles are the same – how you execute it is what matters.

The question that remains is, how long does a body recomposition take before you see its results? We’ll find out in the next section.

body recomposition  

How Long Does Body Recomposition Take?

Ideally, body recomposition should take 8-12 weeks (2). After this period, you’ll start to exhibit visible changes in your physique, changes that even your friends and family will notice.

However, it’s essential to understand how fast noticeable changes show in every individual. For some people, it may take 28 days, while it could take up to 8 months for others (2). This is all dependent on your starting point.

For example, if you have a higher body fat percentage and lower levels of lean mass, the process could take some time. Everyone responds to training and dieting differently, so don’t try to speed things up.

The most important thing is to stick to the process and be resilient. Remember, sculpting your body is not meant to be a rushed endeavor. Take time to understand the basics, as this will ensure your safety throughout your journey. In most cases, you may end up seeing the results in half a year (2).


  • Is 3 months enough for body recomposition?

It is possible to achieve noticeable changes in body composition through proper diet and exercise in 3 months. However, the extent of these changes is dependent on a variety of factors such as starting body fat percentage, muscle mass, and consistency with a recomp diet and exercise plan. 

  • Starting body fat percentage – A high body fat percentage means there’s more room for fat loss and muscle gain. At the same time, a low body fat percentage indicates the body is already lean and may require more time to see visible changes.
  • Muscle mass – Building muscle takes time and 3 months may not be enough to see significant gains in muscle size. However, it is possible to improve muscle definition and increase strength within this time frame.
  • Consistency – Consistently following a balanced diet and engaging in resistance training is essential for successful body recomposition. Skipping workouts or indulging in unhealthy foods can hinder progress and make it difficult to see your desired results within 3 months.

In addition, everyone’s body responds differently to fitness and nutrition routines. Some individuals may experience faster changes, whereas it may take longer for others to achieve their desired body.

Goals and realistic timelines are also discussed in our Workout Problems article.

  • Is body recomposition healthy?

Body recomposition can be a healthy approach to changing your body composition as it focuses on building muscle and losing fat simultaneously. This improves your physical appearance while also having numerous potential health benefits such as improved metabolism, reduced risk of chronic diseases, and increased overall strength and endurance (7).

Unlike simple goals such as weight loss or muscle gain, body recomposition aims for a balance between the two. If it is done in a healthy way, this approach can be more sustainable in the long term. It also promotes a healthier relationship with food and exercise.

  • How realistic is body recomposition?

Body recomposition is a realistic goal for those who are committed to consistently following a balanced diet and engaging in regular resistance training (14). It requires patience, dedication, and a long-term mindset as significant changes may not happen overnight.

From a scientific perspective, body recomposition is possible as the body can build muscle and lose fat at the same time. The body uses stored fat as energy while building muscle through resistance training. This gradually leads to a reduction in overall body fat and an increase in lean muscle mass.

However, it may not be realistic for everyone to achieve a certain physique within a specific timeframe. It’s important to set realistic goals and understand that progress takes time.

In our guide, How to Lose Weight and Gain Muscle, we look at the details of body recomposition and offer practical tips and advice to help you achieve your goals.

  • How much protein do I need to recomp?

The amount of protein you need to achieve body recomposition is dependent on your individual goals and activity level. Generally, it is recommended to consume 0.8-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight for those who engage in resistance training.

If your goal is to increase muscle mass, you may need to consume more protein (around 1-1.2 grams per pound of body weight) as this is essential for muscle growth and repair. At the same time, if your focus is on losing fat while preserving muscle, consuming 0.8-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight should be sufficient (14).

Protein helps with muscle repair and growth, which makes it an essential macronutrient for body recomposition. It also keeps you feeling full, which reduces the likelihood of overeating and consuming excess calories.

That being said, protein alone cannot lead to body recomposition. A balanced diet with adequate intake of all essential nutrients and a consistent resistance training routine is necessary for successful recomp.

We have provided a detailed Body Recomposition Diet guide for those who are looking to achieve body recomposition. It includes information on macro and micronutrient intake, sample meal plans, and tips for staying on track with your diet.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to effectively losing weight, the two key factors are your muscles and fats. Sure, you may hit the gym and start working out to cut a few pounds on the scale and while this will happen, it’s not necessarily the most effective way to go about weight loss. You should adopt a more targeted approach.

This is where body recomposition comes in. You want to build your muscles while burning fat to give you a healthier and better-sculpted physique. These diet and exercise tips will help you achieve this safely and effectively.


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. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. A systematic review of dietary protein during caloric restriction in resistance trained lean athletes: a case for higher intakes (2014,
  2. Body Recomposition: Can trained Individuals Build Muscle and Lose Fat at the Same Time? (2020,
  3. Chronic psychological stress impairs recovery of muscular function and somatic sensations over a 96-hour period (2014,
  4. Effects of diet cycling on weight loss, fat loss and resting energy expenditure in women (2010,
  5. Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation (2014,
  6. Effects of high-intensity interval training on body composition, aerobic and anaerobic performance and plasma lipids in overweight/obese and normal-weight young men (2017,
  7. How Body Recomposition Can Revolutionize Your Patients’ Health (2020,
  8. Interference effect review: the grand paradox (2019,
  9. Moderate and Higher Protein Intakes Promote Superior Body Recomposition in Older Women Performing Resistance Training (2022,
  10. Neuromuscular adaptations during concurrent strength and endurance training versus strength training (2003,
  11. Resistance training-induced changes in integrated myofibrillar protein synthesis are related to hypertrophy only after attenuation of muscle damage (2016,
  12. The effect of acute sleep deprivation on skeletal muscle protein synthesis and the hormonal environment (2021,
  13. The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training (2010,
  14. The Ultimate Guide to Body Recomposition (2023,
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