Choosing the right goal for optimum results...

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A common goal for many people - especially when they’re just starting out on a regular training programme - is to lose fat and build muscle at the same time. The reason that trying to lose fat and build muscle simultaneously is so difficult (but not impossible) is because of the opposing demands these goals impose on your body. To build a lot of new muscle tissue, your body needs energy. In other words, you’ll need to consume more calories than you’re burning each day. To lose fat, you need to create an energy deficit to consume fewer calories than you burn.

Of course, it is possible to lose fat and build muscle at the same time, especially if you’re just starting an exercise program. But your progress will be a lot slower than if you were to devote all your energy to one goal. So slow, in fact, that it’s easy to become discouraged by your lack of progress and throw in the towel.

The fact is, you’re far more likely to get better results by splitting your training goals into several phases, and working on one after the other. The problem comes when deciding which goal to work towards first. The typical approach is to bulk up as quickly as possible by eating everything in sight. Then, you simply shed the fat to reveal the layers of new muscle tissue you’ve worked so hard to build.

However, Dr. Gilbert Forbes, Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics and Biophysics at New York’s University of Rochester, points out that during a period of overfeeding, you’ll gain more muscle and less fat if you’re lean to start with. In other words, if you want to lose fat and build muscle, focus on losing the fat first.

Fat is simply stored energy. Remember that energy is neither created nor destroyed over time, it changes its form. The sum total of energy always remains the same. For example, the 'energy' found in petrol is changed into; heat, sound and explosion energy, which is then converted into movement energy in a car. When you put the brakes on, this movement energy isn’t lost. Rather, it’s converted into heat energy in the brakes.

The same principle holds true for the food you eat. Green plants use carbon dioxide, water and the energy from the sun to form a type of sugar called glucose. That’s where the word “carbohydrate” comes from. Carbo means “carbon”, while hydrate means “water”.

When you eat the plant (or I suppose the animal that’s eaten the plant), the energy is then stored in your body, as fat, carbohydrate or protein. When you exercise, these stored fuels are then converted into both movement and heat energy (training, sweating, etc…) When you overfeed for a period of several weeks, it’s common to gain a small amount of muscle as well as fat. In fact, obese people are not just overfat. They also have a lot more muscle than their lean counterparts. It’s just so well hidden that you can’t see it. That is why fat people tend to have very strong leg muscles. If you're very lean, imagine walking around with a 30kg rucksack day and night and you'll understand what I mean!

Dr. Forbes has discovered that the amount of fat and muscle you gain when you overfeed depends on how much bodyfat you have to start with. He reviewed a number of studies where test subjects were overfed for a minimum of three weeks.

For every 10 pounds of weight gained by an overweight individual, 4 pounds come from lean tissue and 6 pounds come from fat. In contrast, for every 10 pounds of weight gained by a lean individual, 7 pounds come from lean tissue and 3 pounds come from fat. Of course, more lean tissue doesn’t necessarily equate to more muscle tissue. Stored fluid and carbohydrate also contribute to gains in lean tissue.

These figures shouldn’t be taken as an accurate guide as to what you’ll gain when you overfeed. After all, everyone has a slightly different definition of what “lean” means. Moreover, the longer you 'overfeed', the greater the chances are that the weight you gain will be in the form of fat. Rather, these numbers illustrate the principle that it’s best to focus all your efforts on losing fat before trying to build muscle.

You’ll be surprised at just how quickly you make progress when you focus all your efforts on just one goal. When you’re training to gain weight in a hurry, for instance, forget about trying to lose fat at the same time. Eat plenty of clean, natural food (chicken, lean beef, rice and potatoes, for example). Reduce your aerobic activity to a minimum (no more than 3 bouts of 15-20 minutes each week), and focus on progressively increasing the weight you’re lifting in the basic exercises compound movements, such as the squat, deadlift, and bench press. Then, choose 2 or 3 supplements specifically designed for packing on size. A stack of Cyclone, Progain and Testokick, for example, used on a consistent, regular basis (not just when you can be bothered) for just 6 weeks will pack on at least 10 pounds of lean mass - in many cases up to a full stone. Adding this much muscle in such a short time is guaranteed to make an incredible difference to the way you look. Then you can change over to a fat loss programme and take supplements such as Maximuscle's HMB, Promax extreme and Thermobol to prevent muscle loss and speed up fat loss.

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Yoeri Goossens   |.
The article first states, summing up Forbes' research, '...if you want to lose
fat and build muscle, focus on losing the fat first'. However, the article then
basically concludes that, 'Adding this much muscle in such a short time is
guaranteed to make an incredible difference to the way you look. Then you can
change over to a fat loss programme...'
So, which is it really?
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