Leaning Out versus Putting on Mass

One of the many myths in the fitness community (and truly it comes from sports media) is that people can lean out or lose fat while ALSO gaining muscle mass. I’m sure you’ve all heard the story about the kid trying to become a professional athlete who got with his trainer and his body fat went down X percentage points while his total muscle mass went up X amount of pounds. 

The part the trainer/sports media coverage leave out is that the athlete has typically just lost weight. They never really say though. They just say body fat down and muscle mass up. They aren’t lying, however, they’re just kinda stating a misinterpretation of a fact. Let’s explain how. 

I myself weigh somewhere between 160-165 pounds depending on how many cookies I ate over the weekend. Now, let’s say I decided to really focus on my diet and tried to lean out. And, let’s also say that when I started the process my body fat percent was 15% and my muscle mass was 125-130 pournds, right? 15% of 165 is 25. So that means 25 pounds of me are fat and roughly 125-130 pounds of me is muscle. Well, let’s say I drop down to 155. Now, my body fat percent is 9%. So, out of the 155 pounds of total body weight, 14 pounds is fat. Now, even though I lost weight, I could expect now a great percentage of my body weight to be comprised of just muscle. Now, instead of that 125-130 pounds of muscle accounting for 75-78% of my body weight, now it accounts for 83-85% of my body weight. 

The fact of the matter is you cannot add muscle mass, actually weigh more, while losing SOLELY body fat. Our bodies don’t work that way. In order to lean out, you have to consume right around 70% of your lean body mass in protein coupled with enough carbohydrates and fat to ONLY sustain exercise. If you want to gain mass you need to consume close to 100% of your lean body mass in protein and possibly even more. This also needs to be coupled with the right amount of carbohydrates and fat. This leads to a caloric surplus, which is a must for adding mass, which ultimately leads to some weight that you’re adding being body fat. It’s inevitable for almost everyone. 

The point is to always figure out what your goals are and then go from there. This can help you decide if leaning out and just looking ripped is more important to you or if you want to be able to perform really well. Eventually, you’ll find a happy medium and learn exactly just how much food is the right amount for you.


If you’re ready to talk about your food and fitness goals, schedule a chat with us!