Body Recomposition Without Exercise: Is it Possible?

Everyone wants to lose fat and build muscle, but not everyone wants to live in the gym. If this sounds like you, you might wonder ‘is it possible for body recomposition without exercise?’ The answer is, yes but there are some caveats. 

What is Body Recomposition?

Body recomposition is the process of losing fat and gaining muscle. It is traditionally achieved by increasing protein intake and incorporating regular strength training exercise in addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle. 

Body recomposition can help to boost your overall strength and increase your metabolic rate, which is the number of calories your body burns at rest. This can boost your overall health and wellbeing along with confidence [1].

Body Recomposition vs Weight Loss

Body recomposition differs from weight loss in many ways. 

Traditional weight loss diets result in a loss of both fat mass and muscle mass and the focus is mainly on the number on the scale whereas body recomposition focuses on gaining muscle while reducing fat. This doesn’t always result in a large change in weight. 

An increase in lean muscle mass is strongly associated with improved health outcomes compared to just weight loss. In fact, studies have found that improvements in body composition can help to reduce the risk of various chronic diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers [2, 3, 4].

Can You Recomp Without Exercise?

An essential component in body recomposition includes resistance exercise. Consistent training on your muscles helps to increase strength and mass. The more muscle mass you have the more calories you burn at rest which can help to reduce fat mass. 

Without resistance exercise, you are unlikely to see any substantial changes in your body composition. Although protein is a necessary component in building muscle, consuming a high-protein diet alone won’t create more muscle mass.

However, if you are trying to lose weight, consuming a high-protein diet can help to preserve the lean muscle mass you have and prevent losses that commonly occur with weight loss even if you aren’t incorporating exercise into your routine [5, 6].

Consuming a high-protein diet during weight loss allows your body to better target fat losses during this time which can help to create some body recomposition. 

However, it will not likely be as substantial as it would when combined with strength training exercise.

How to Approach Body Recomposition Without Exercise?

If you are wanting to achieve body recomposition without exercise, an emphasis on diet is required. 

The recommendations for this are mostly standard and include consuming less processed foods and more whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, low-fat dairy, and lean meats. 

To achieve body recomposition with just diet, a calorie deficit is also required along with an increase in total protein intake. 

To avoid any metabolic alterations, consider a calorie deficit that is no more than 500 calories per day. The amount of total calories and protein intake you will need to successfully achieve body recomposition will vary by individual.

What is a Body Recomposition Diet?

A body recomposition diet is not a one-size-fits-all approach. 

If you are looking to focus solely on diet to improve your body recomposition you must include a calorie deficit with an increase in total protein intake but the recommendations for those will vary from person to person depending on many different factors, such as age, gender, height, weight, and activity level.

Body Recomp Calorie Calculation

To best understand your calorie needs to create a sufficient deficit for recomposition, you need to consider your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). This takes into account your height, weight, gender, age, and activity level. 

To get this information, you can speak with a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist who can help provide more personalized guidance for you. 

If you are looking for a ballpark, you can find TDEE calculators, such as this one, that can give you a range to shoot for. 

Keep in mind these numbers are to sustain your current weight and to include a deficit you must subtract 500 calories from your estimated calorie range.  

Protein Intake

The amount of protein needed for successful body recomposition also varies. Most studies on this included a protein intake anywhere from 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight all the way to 2.3 grams per kilogram. However, many of these studies included athletes and bodybuilders [6, 7]. 

For the average person, consuming at least 30% of your total calories from protein will likely provide you with the results you are looking for. For someone who consumes a 2000 calorie diet per day, this would equal 150 grams of protein. 

For more specific recommendations on your protein needs, check out our protein calculator.

Is Body Recomposition Possible Naturally?

Body recomposition can happen naturally however, this often includes negative side effects. 

For example, if you undereat calories and protein due to lack of appetite from injury or illness, you will likely lose muscle mass. 

To gain muscle and lose fat, you have to be intentional about your diet and exercise routine, it will not happen on its own.

Is Body Recomposition Possible for Everyone?

Body recomposition is possible for both men and women, and any healthy adult but not always necessary. 

Whether or not you choose body recomposition depends on your personal goals.

How Long Does it Take for Body Recomposition? 

The amount of time it takes to successfully achieve your desired body recomposition goals will vary by individuals based on many different factors. 

Your current muscle to fat ratio and your goals as well as your current diet and exercise habits will determine the length of time it takes you to meet your desired recomposition goals.