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Best Tips on How to Lose Fat But Build Muscle

written by: Rochelle Connery • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 3/14/2011

Looking for tips on how to lose fat but build muscle? Then this guide is a great place to start! You’ll learn how you can melt fat while preserving or adding onto your existing muscle.

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    The Basics Behind Losing Fat and Building Muscle

    If you want to know how to lose fat but build muscle, you’ll need to learn that your body won’t just take the calories you’ve stored and convert them right into muscle. According to About.com, building muscle means you must take in more calories than you’re burning. Losing fat, on the other hand, means you must eat fewer calories and burn more.

    Unfortunately, those two don’t always mix the way you’d like them to. That’s why some experts design special diets for those who wish to lose weight while building muscle. You must keep up your body’s metabolism while doing both of these things.

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    How to Lose Fat But Build Muscle with Cardio

    Fitness expert Vince Delmonte teaches exercisers how to lose fat but build muscle all the time, and he often does so with cardio. He recommends that exercisers leave their cardio until the end of their workouts.

    Why is this successful? That means you’ve already worked on building muscle with the beginning portion of your workout, for one. Also, leaving cardio until the end helps your body to burn the stored calories that we call fat, instead of taking readily available resources.

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    Mixing Strength and Cardio

    If you want a really good tip on how to lose fat but build muscle, then make sure you combine strength training with cardio.

    Doing just plain cardio can help you burn a lot of stored fat, but it doesn’t tone all of your muscle necessarily. Lifting weights and doing bodyweight exercises can help that muscle show through.

    Combining these two methods results in the best of both worlds – you burn the stored fat on the one hand, but you don’t neglect the shape of your muscle.

    Better yet, you can perform exercises that build strength as you get your cardio training done. Burpees are an example of such an exercise.

    Burpees are like jumping pushups. Begin by jumping one time, launch yourself to the ground hands-first in pushup position, perform one pushup, then quickly jump back up and prepare for the next one. This quick up-and-down motion, coupled with the challenge of the pushups, raises your heart rate while you tone muscle and build strength.

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    Three Tricks to Build Muscles While Losing Fat

    There are certain methods you can employ while doing strength training that will help you achieve your goals successfully:

    • Amount of weight per rep: Pick a weight that you can handle for 7-12 repetitions of any given exercise.
    • Reps per set: You can do a certain number of reps per set depending on whether you want to lose weight or build muscle. To lose fat, you need to do at least 10-12 reps of a slightly easier weight. For muscle building, raise the weight so you can only handle six to eight reps of an exercise.
    • Sets per exercise: Do at least two sets of reps per exercise for fat loss. But for muscle building, do at least three sets.

    Don’t try all of these at once! Work up to your comfortable weight. You don’t want to injure yourself!

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    Watch What You Eat

    The key to making sure your body loses fat while building muscle is to eat the right kind of foods. Just because building muscle requires lots of calories doesn’t mean you should eat whatever snacks and desserts you want in the quantities your appetite desires.

    Many bodybuilders consume foods that contain a lot of protein to help their cause. Red meat is often the first thing that comes to mind, but that’s not your only option. Things like peanut butter, cheese, yogurt and bagels fit the bill, too.

    Sources:

    Go Ask Alice! Columbia University: Losing Fat and Building Muscle Mass

    Vince Delmonte: Gain Muscle Lose Fat

    About.com: How Many Reps/Sets to Do

    About.com, Paige Waehner: Can I Lose Fat and Gain Muscle at the Same Time?