Weight control: gaining muscle, losing fat

Ways and whys of weight control (6944341101)

I am currently reading The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding by Arnold Schwarzenegger and I will summarize what I have learned in a series of posts about health, nutrition and diet. I highly recommend reading the book.

This is part 3 and also the last part where I learn about weight control for gaining muscle and losing fat.

Disclaimer: I am not a certified nutritionist and make no claims to the contrary. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual.

The purpose of the diet is to help gain muscle and lose fat. With popular diets we lose body weight but lose muscle as well as stored body fat. There are strategies for building muscle mass while keeping body fat minimum and maintaining energy levels even during calorie restriction.

The body composition is comprised of lean body mass (muscle, bone, connective tissue), body fat and water. The goal is to control the body composition by controlling what to eat, how much to eat but also the effect the exercise has on the diet, body type and age. What is the most effective and efficient way?

It is contradictory to simultaneously gain muscle and lose fat. There is also a difference between building muscle mass and bulking. By bulking we tend to get fat and have extra weight to work off later.

Influences on the body composition are genetics or body type, metabolism, caloric consumption with excess stores as body fat, quality of diet, type of exercise and amount of exercise.

Diet and body types

Ectomorphs have a fast metabolism, the body turns food into energy fast and easy. Recommendation is to eat high protein and more calories.

Mesomorphs’ body turns food easily into muscle. Eat high protein and normal calories.

Endomorphs have slower metabolism with greater amount of fat cells, the body turns food into stored body fat. Eat enough protein and minimum amount of calories with fat less than 20% of the daily food intake.

Age and body fat

Teenagers have fast metabolism and can eat anything without getting fat. Adult metabolism slows down by 10 calories per day per year after the age of 30. With the age 40+ we tend to gain weight even we no change in diet and exercise. Slowing of the metabolism with age is a factor for the gradual loss of muscle tissue. It is recommended to train hard to keep the muscles big and strong.

Calorie consumption

You will lose body fat if your energy expenditure is consistently higher than your energy intake. This means that you burn more calories than you consume.

RMR + calories from activity (calories expended) > food eaten during the day (calories consumed)

The more active your are the more calories you burn and the more easily you control your fat weight. You can increase overall level of activity over gym training with cardio or aerobic exercise.

Quality of diet

What you eat is important. The more you restrict calories the more nutritional density you should eat, like lean protein, variety of vegetables, fruits and starchy carbohydrates sources so you can train more intensely and build more muscles. In comparison processed fast food is high in fat and sugar and has too many empty calories with no nutritional value. You are what you eat so eat clean.

Creating demand

What your body does with the food you eat depends on the demand created by the amount and type of training. The food calories will make you fat if the body doesn’t use the food energy for some purpose.

Aerobic training burns a lot of calories and depletes the body of glycogen so eat carbohydrates after endurance training so the body turns the carbs into glycogen and little of that carb is stored as body fat.

Intense weight training creates demand for replacing protein, the body uses protein eaten on that day to rebuild muscle tissue and protein will unlikely be stored as body fat.

So direct protein into muscles when training with weights and burn excess energy with aerobic training.

How much aerobic?

Cardio training like fast walking, jogging and bike riding is good for the heart, lungs and the circulatory system. It is recommended that slow gainers do 30 minutes on 4-5 days per week and those trying to lose body weight do 45 minutes to 1 hour 4-5 times a week. Keep in mind that doing cardio before gym workouts will fatigue the body and make it hard to train as intensely. Use aerobic exercise to burn up extra calories but not to the point where your trainings suffers.

Eating to gain muscle

Eat enough to grow to then be able to reduce body fat without sacrificing muscle mass.

  1. Stimulate muscular growth by bodybuilding training
  2. Eat sufficient protein
  3. Increase calorie intake but not as much to create unwanted gain of body fat
  4. Keep cardio training to a healthy minimum of 40 minutes 4-5 times per week

Do not suddenly introduce large quantities of food into your system, you body may not be able to handle them but do it gradually, for example stay at level 1 for 3 weeks and if no weight gain then go to level 2, again hold for 3 weeks and if no weight gain then go to level 3. Eat 4 meals per day and add high protein drinks.

How to lose weight

For every pound that you lose 60% is muscle and only 40% is body fat. You lose more muscle than fat and that is not acceptable. In order to lose fat weight it is recommended to maintain protein levels while cutting back on all other calorie intake and increase calorie deficit by adding more aerobic exercise to burn more energy. You put your body in calorie deficit to burn off more energy than you take in from food. Control calories but get sufficient protein to build and maintain muscle tissue. How many calories can be experimented by trial and error.

  1. Eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
  2. Keep fat low at 20% of the total daily caloric intake. Studies suggest that 6 grams of fish oil each day lowers body fat and increases muscle mass.
  3. Reduce carbs without going into ketosis. Carbs are not bad for you but we reduce carbs to keep calorie intake to minimum. Carbohydrate deprivation or ketosis causes dehydration so it is easy to confuse loss of water weight with loss of body fat. You can use Ketostix to test for ketosis.
  4. 45-60 minutes of aerobic training 4-5 times per week.

Protein sources are fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, milk, protein powder but also beef, pork, lamb, cheese, whole milk.

Carbohydrate sources are vegetables, beans, salads, fruits, whole wheat or rye bread, potato, rice.

Bake, broil or steam but do not fry (it adds calories) or boil (it destroys nutrients). Go light on the salad dressing. Start reading the nutritional label to see what’s really in them. Avoid the 3 basic food groups of fast food industry that are fat, sugar and salt.


  • The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding, by Arnold Schwarzenegger