Body recomposition is the golden key to unlocking your dream body (think: sculpted). While nothing worth having comes easy, with a few lifestyle modifications – coupled with determination and consistency – you will find that this process makes sense.
It is not rocket science. It is also not a quick fix or fad diet scheme. In fact, this process is a sustainable way of life. The best part about body recomposition? It is a tried-and-true method that is easily accessible. All you need is yourself, proper nutrition, and the incorporation of strength training.
- Body recomposition focuses on reducing total body fat composition and increasing muscle mass.
- Strength training works wonders on your body composition and overall health. As body fat sheds away, so does the risk for chronic diseases (i.e. diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc.).
- Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does. Increased muscle mass = increased metabolism.
- A high-protein diet is essential in growing and maintaining your muscles.
- Body recomposition is sustainable.
What is Body Recomposition?
There is body composition and then there is body recomposition. To understand one, it is best to understand the other as well. First, body composition is the make-up of one’s body. It is the proportion of muscle, fat, bone, and water that exists within us. Easy enough, right? Now body recomposition is all about rearranging the proportion. It is the disruption and change of the body composition ratio, through decreasing fat mass and increasing lean muscle mass.
Although you will be losing fat through this process, you likely will not see this play out on the scale. As the saying goes – muscle weighs more than fat. While a pound of fat and a pound of muscle are both, well, a pound, there is still some truthfulness here. The difference is that muscle is much denser. Muscle will not occupy as much space in the body as a pound of fat does.
All this to say, while you may feel stronger yet lighter in your own clothes (through body recomposition), you may not see much of a change in the numbers on the scale. And that is OK – do not let this get in your head! There are much better ways to track and check your progress. Try measuring body fat composition changes using methods like a skinfold caliper or documenting body circumference measurements.
Is It Possible To Lose Fat and Gain Muscle at the Same Time?
The quick answer: yes. The secret to weight loss and muscle gain is two-part. It requires a proper protein-filled diet, as well as multiple strength training exercises a week. When executed consistently, lean muscle replaces fat.
Opting for weighted exercises is ideal for this outcome. Strength training is one of the few types of exercise that will not only burn calories while at the gym, but also after you put the weights down. Why? Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does. About 3 times as many calories. This is because our muscles have dynamic tissues – the synthesis of proteins to maintain the muscle’s compacity is constant.
How To Retain Muscle While Losing Fat
Losing weight requires being in a calorie deficit – you must burn more calories than you are consuming. Yet, maintaining muscle mass demands increased nutrition. It’s quite a conundrum. Hear me out. Picture this: you have been lifting away at the gym, shedding excess weight, and are starting to carve out your ideal, chiseled self. Now is a good time to check in on your nutrition. Are you eating enough to support the increased calorie burn? More importantly, how are your protein levels tracking?
A high-protein diet is necessary for muscle growth. Each strength training session causes tiny tears in the muscles (this is part of the growth process). Amino acids repair these tears and shape the muscles. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and protein is responsible for muscle tissue recovery. Thus, upping your protein consumption is critical.
In fact, studies suggest that we should be consuming 0.73 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight daily. If you weigh 160 pounds, aim to consume 160 grams of protein each day. A few protein-filled food options include chicken, eggs, turkey, salmon, tuna, nut butters, and protein powders. Keeping protein intake levels high is optimal for muscle gain and energy levels as you dive into strength training workouts.
The Best Foods for Body Recomposition
We have touched on protein and the importance it plays in muscle gain. What else should you be consuming during this body recomposition process? Aim for a healthy diet enriched with whole foods.
Reach for items like fresh fruits and veggies, healthy fats (avocados, nuts, fish, olive oils), whole grains, and complex carbohydrates (sweet potatoes, oats, lentils, quinoa). And limit foods that are high in sodium, high in sugar, and overly processed.
Tip: check out the ingredients panel on the side of your purchases. If complicated-to-digest items make up the ingredients list, this product likely falls under the “foods to limit or avoid” category. Eat in a way that fuels your body with energy to perform throughout the day.
How Much Fat Can I Expect to Lose in 90 Days?
Everyone is going to have a different weight loss story and timeframe. How much body fat you lose depends on many factors: consistency with nutrition and protein intake, productive strength and resistance training workouts, and rest and recovery. We are all at different starting points and we all have different genetic makeup.
Because of these variables, it is hard to determine exactly how much weight an individual will lose in 90 days. That said, the guidelines for a healthy weight loss state that shredding 1 to 2 pounds of weight a week is safe. If you stick to this guideline, you can estimate about a 26-pound loss in 90 days.
Aside from the numbers on the scale, there are a few noticeable changes you can expect after 90 days on the program. First, you will feel better in your clothes and start to see a visual difference in your body’s appearance. That is motivating. You should begin to feel a shift in your energy levels – with more energy to spare. Most importantly, you will gain an increased sense of self-confidence, with an excitement to keep striving toward your health and fitness goals.
A Sample Weekly Meal Plan for Body Recomposition
OK – you have now learned a ton about proper body recomposition nutrition. Time to put it to the test. Before you start to feel nervous or overwhelmed – do not fret. Below are a few menu ideas to get you started on the right track. Remember, these are meal suggestions intended to help get the wheels moving.
Ultimately, you will need to alter the number of calories, nutrients, and proteins going into your body each day. The most important point is to eat whole foods and grains, add complete proteins to each meal, find ways to indulge in moderation and stay hydrated. This is a lifestyle, not a temporary diet fix. Create the meal plan that works for you – one that you can carry into all stages of life.
- Oatmeal – topped with nut butter or protein powder, as well as blueberries.
- Eggs – served in a form of your liking, with a side of turkey bacon.
- Omelet – with veggies or lean meat inside.
- Avocado toast – on whole grain toast, with a runny egg.
- Lettuce wraps – filled with ground turkey, sauce, and toppings.
- Taco bowl – taco toppings of choice.
- Roasted veggies and Italian sausage.
- Greek yogurt.
- Almonds, walnuts, pecans.
- Protein bar or shake.
- Peanut butter toast.
- Grilled chicken – with a side of veggies and quinoa.
- Grilled salmon – with a side salad and sweet potatoes.
- Turkey chili – with toppings of your choice.
- Pork chop – with a side of roasted brussel sprouts and cauliflower.
- Chocolate covered strawberries.
- Dark chocolate assortments.
- Greek yogurt or pudding – topped with coconut shreds, chocolate pieces, and berries.
The Best Exercises for Gaining Muscle and Losing Fat
While cardiovascular exercises (i.e. walking, running, biking) are essential for heart health, it is not the most efficient route to take for muscle gain. What is? Strength training. Strength training is critical in your body recomposition journey. This type of training includes resistance or weighted exercises that focus on building muscles throughout your body. Common exercises include weighted squats, lunges, overhead presses, push-ups, deadlifts, and many more.
If you want to alter your body, you must incorporate strength training into your routine two to three times a week. As your body gains strength, be sure to apply progressive overload – or gradually increase your lifting sessions (i.e. increased repetitions or weight amount).
Your body will quickly adapt and change. Increase workout intensity to increase results. Still uncertain about what a strength training workout looks like or how to get started? Below is a sample workout, with a few links to assist – take a look!
Body Recomposition Sample Workout
Five different exercises comprise this workout. Each exercise requires a certain number of reps (repeating the same move several times before moving on to the next). After completing all five exercises, take a quick break, then start back at the top. You will repeat the entire workout three to four times.
Strength training workouts require weights. Pick a medium weight to complete this sample workout. “Medium” means nothing too heavy, where you cannot complete the reps – but nothing too light, where you are breezing through the workout. You should be able to feel each exercise. Grab a water bottle and some weights, and let’s get started!
Exercise 1: Weighted squat, to upright row (12 reps).
Exercise 2: Weighted deadlift, with bent over row (12 reps).
Exercise 3: Weighted backward lunge, with overhead press (8 reps on each side).
Exercise 4: Weighted lateral arm raise, to forward arm raise (12 reps).
Tip: Use a lighter weight for this exercise.
Exercise 5: Weighted Russian Twist (20 reps).
This sample strength training workout is a great start to your weekly workout regimen. So, what do you do the remaining six days of the week? A week’s worth of workouts can look a million different ways. Regardless, you will want to include a few key training days: two to three strength training days, two cardio days, and at least one rest day (if not more).
Each of your strength training workouts should focus on different muscle groups within the body (arms, legs, core, back, etc.). And each cardio session should be different as well. Some cardio days can be more intense, HIIT workouts (i.e. sprint intervals), while other days can be more low impact (i.e. inclined walks).
Why do we mix up our workouts? The bottom line, the body is highly adaptable — it will change or adapt to a specific workout fairly quickly. And if it is not continuously challenged (through more reps, heavier weights, and different workouts), you will find yourself plateauing in progress. Keep your body on its toes and mix up your routine. Need a visual? Here’s a mock workout week — incorporating strength and cardio training:
Sample Workout Week:
- Sunday: Rest Day
- Monday: Strength Training (Legs & Glutes).
- Tuesday: Low Impact Cardio (i.e. inclined power walk, with ab workout).
- Wednesday: Strength Training (Back & Biceps).
- Thursday: HIIT Cardio (i.e. sprint intervals or Tabata exercises).
- Friday: Strength Training (Chest & Triceps).
- Saturday: Low Impact Cardio (i.e. long distance run around the neighborhood).
The 10 Key Strategies for Body Recomposition
Here are a few tips on how to start your body recomposition journey off on the right foot:
- Evaluate your starting point. Capture “before” measurements, pictures, and overall feelings.
- Get a plan in place. Create a meal plan/grocery list and a weekly workout schedule to follow.
- Decide on a motivation method. What will keep you going and motivate you to stay on track? Rewards and recognition will feed your brain. How can you reward yourself for your hard work each week?
- Rip the band aid and start! If you do not go after what you want, you will never have it. Do not blow this process out of proportion – it is a lifestyle change. You will not start out perfect, nobody expects you to. Get going and make modifications along the way.
- As with most things in life, consistency is key. Results may not come immediately, but that does not mean changes are not taking place. Your body is being challenged and change is certainly taking place.
- Remember – this is not a quick weight loss fix or a fad diet. This is a lifestyle, a sustainable journey. Find ways to make the body recomposition process work in your day-to-day life. Are you a morning person? Wake up early to strength train. Are you commuting to an office each day? Pre-pack your nutritious, protein meals the night before.
- Remain focused on the goal. Check-in with yourself, and take updated pictures/measurements. Congratulate yourself at each stage of the game.
- Continue to make tweaks throughout the process. Maybe you have found a different workout class you enjoy – incorporate it into your plan. Maybe you are struggling to get in enough protein each day – switch up your meals or snacks.
- Body recomposition boils down to 3 main items: weighted workouts 2-3x a week, eating a nutritious/protein-filled diet, and allowing for rest/recovery.
- Keep going and be proud of how far you have already come!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it better to do cardio or lift weights for losing fat?
Both cardio and weightlifting are great forms of exercise and body movement. Ultimately, lifting weights 2-3x a week will shed body fat and shred the body – giving you results.
Do HIIT workouts help with body recomposition?
Absolutely – high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are dynamic additions to your body recomposition journey. HIIT workouts are intense bursts of cardio exercise that leave you winded. You’ll repeat these HIIT rounds many times in a single workout period.
Does fasting work for body recomposition?
If your goal is to build muscle, fasting is not the move. Your muscles need nutrients to grow and maintain density. When the muscles do not receive these nutrients and proteins, they atrophy.
Which diet is best for body recomposition?
Body recomposition does not require a restrictive diet. It is a lifestyle. With that in mind, the best way to thrive in your body recomposition journey is through nutrient-dense, whole foods – with an emphasis on protein. Fruits, veggies, health carbohydrates and fats – simply create healthy eating habits.
Does keto work for body recomposition?
The keto diet is, in a sense, a form of clean eating. While keto focuses on your body entering a ketosis state, dietarily, it encompasses a lot of the same nutrient dense food items we have discussed (veggies, nuts, eggs, healthy oils, etc.). Because of this I would agree that the keto diet works for body recomposition.
Caroline Brindle graduated from James Madison University with degrees in Health Sciences and Writing Communications. She is currently studying to receive her MBA in Food Marketing. Caroline’s expertise in wellness stems from her studies, as well as her passion in all things healthy living. She’s a multi-marathon runner, fitness class enthusiasts, healthy trend hacker, and avid wellness researcher. Her expertise in wellness stems from her studies, as well as her passion in all things healthy living. She’s a multi-marathon runner, fitness class enthusiasts, healthy trend hacker, and avid wellness researcher.
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