Body recomposition involves lowering body fat while maintaining or increasing lean muscle mass.
Weight loss simply focuses on decreasing body weight, which can be a result of many things including fat loss, muscle loss, water loss, and bone loss.
Through a combination of eating a high-protein diet and a good resistance training program, you can change your body composition. Keep reading to learn how to achieve body recomposition in a healthy way.
Increase Lean Muscle Mass
Although losing body fat is a key part of body recomposition, maintaining or building muscle is just as important.
Eating the right diet is a necessary component of building lean muscle mass. A diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats is important for anyone, regardless of their fitness goal. But if you want to increase muscle mass while lowering body fat, you’ll need to increase your protein intake.
Research shows that a high-protein diet is a requirement for muscle growth. In fact, one review of data showed that eating only the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein (0.36 g/lb) was not enough “for those who have the goal of gaining greater strength and fat-free mass with resistance training.”
So how much protein is enough? Recommended amounts vary from 0.73–1.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight. The International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that protein intake on the higher end of the range is needed to maintain muscle in people who are resistance training while following a low-calorie diet.
To build muscle, you must include strength training in your workout routine. Strength training produces an increase in strength and muscle mass through resistance exercises, for example, lifting weights.
Experts say that you need at least 2 days of resistance training to effectively build muscle and lower body fat.
Combining compound movements like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses with muscle-building exercises for 2 to 3 days per week in addition to 1 to 2 days per week of interval training may be the perfect formula for body recomposition.
Reach a Healthy Body Fat Percentage
Excess body fat can be harmful to your physical and mental health in a number of ways. A high body fat percentage can lead to an increased risk of chronic disease, decreased energy, poor body image, and other emotional difficulties. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help you reach a healthy body fat percentage.
Nutrition for Body Recomposition
To lose body fat, you must be in a caloric deficit, which means you need to consume less energy than your body puts out. This can be achieved through decreased calorie intake or increased energy expenditure.
Extremely low-calorie diets or excessive cardiovascular exercise are not necessary, and they won’t help you preserve muscle mass while trying to achieve your body recomposition goal.
For body recomposition, it’s best to slightly decrease calories and incorporate muscle-building exercises into your routine.
Just like it’s important for building lean muscle mass, a high-protein diet is key to reaching a healthy body fat percentage. Research shows that consuming a high-protein diet helps athletes build and maintain muscle while losing body fat.
Consuming at least 0.64 grams of protein per pound of body weight may help improve your body composition. Protein powders can be a helpful way to reach your increased protein needs.
Does Body Recomposition Take Longer Than Fat Loss?
Body recomposition typically takes longer to achieve noticeable results compared to weight loss. Weight loss is often achieved by eating fewer calories than your body needs, leading to a decrease in weight. This approach may produce rapid weight loss, but it may also result in some muscle loss or weight regain over time.
Body recomposition aims to maintain or increase muscle mass while shedding fat. This process requires a combination of resistance training and a high-protein, calorie-controlled diet. Building muscle takes time and consistent effort, as it requires challenging the muscles through progressive overload and proper nutrition for muscle repair and growth.
While body recomposition may take longer, it’s well worth the wait. Extremely restrictive low-calorie diets are not sustainable and often result in weight regain. Additionally, they almost always result in muscle loss.
Research has consistently shown that there are countless health benefits associated with strength training and increased muscle mass. Some benefits include better heart and brain health, reduced blood pressure, healthy blood lipids (cholesterol, triglycerides), higher self-esteem, and increased bone density.
Why wouldn’t you want to hold on to (or increase) the muscle mass you already have?
How Long Does It Take to Increase Lean Muscle Mass?
The time it takes to increase lean muscle mass can vary depending on several factors, including genetics, training intensity, nutrition, and consistency. Noticeable increases in muscle mass can usually be seen after a few months of consistent strength training and proper nutrition.
A well-designed resistance training program that targets major muscle groups and incorporates progressive overload (gradually increasing the challenge to the muscles) will typically result in better muscle tone and strength within 4 to 8 weeks.
Maintaining a consistent training routine and adequate nutrition is needed to continue these gains. This means eating enough protein to support muscle repair and growth, as well as eating enough calories.
How Much Fat Can I Lose Per Week?
How quickly you lose fat depends on several factors, such as starting weight, current body composition, genetics, diet, and exercise routine. Losing 1–2 lbs of body fat per week is considered safe and sustainable.
During the initial stages of a fat loss journey, you may experience more rapid weight loss, which includes a combination of fat, water, and glycogen (stored carbohydrates). As the body adapts to your new routine, the rate of fat loss often slows and remains steady.
It's important to approach fat loss with a focus on overall health and long-term sustainability rather than aiming for rapid, unsustainable results. Crash diets or extreme caloric deficits can lead to muscle loss, nutrient deficiencies, and other adverse health effects.
How to Set Realistic Body Composition Goals
Setting realistic body composition goals will help you stay motivated and achieve long-lasting results. Here are some things to consider when setting body composition goals:
- Assess your current body composition. This provides a starting point for setting realistic goals. Using weight, body fat percentage and measurements can be helpful.
- Determine your desired outcome. Clearly define what you want to achieve in terms of body composition. Having a specific goal in mind helps you stay focused.
- Consider your lifestyle and potential barriers to consistency. Take into account your daily routine, time availability, and any limitations you may have, such as physical abilities or dietary restrictions. Set goals that align with your lifestyle. Avoid setting unrealistic goals that require extreme measures, as they can lead to disappointment and setbacks.
- Break it down into smaller milestones. Rather than solely focusing on a big end goal, break it down into smaller, attainable milestones. This approach allows you to track your progress and stay motivated.
- Monitor and adjust. Regularly monitor your progress by measuring your body composition and tracking changes. If needed, make adjustments to your diet or exercise routine to ensure you are moving towards your goals.
Be patient, stay consistent, and keep your overall health and well-being in mind throughout the process.
Healthy Ways to Speed Up Body Recomposition Goals
Body recomposition takes time, but if you’re consistent with your habits, it can help speed up the process.
- Maintain a balanced and nutritious diet
- Consume enough protein (protein supplements can be helpful)
- Stick to a regular exercise routine with at least 2 days of strength training per week
- Get 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night
- Be consistent!
Body recomposition lowers body fat while maintaining or building muscle. A high-protein diet and strength training are two necessary things for accomplishing this goal. Set realistic goals to help you stay motivated, and to ensure you can maintain your results long-term. Don’t forget about rest and recovery!