How do I loose weight and gain muscle at the same time?
October 11, 2011 3:48 AM   Subscribe

I wake up in the morning at 6am and walk 2km (1.2 miles) to the gym and back five days a week. My workouts last 45 minutes and are aimed at sculpting, working on a body part per day (back, shoulders, chest, arms and legs). I weigh 100kg (220 pounds) and am 180cm (5.9 feet). I want to weigh 85kg (185 pounds). What and when should I eat to loose weight and gain maximum muscle mass? and how long should it take for me to loose this weight? I work from home as a software developer and sit on my ass all day so I don't get any more exercise than that...
posted by Bacillus to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Ohh and by the way I'm just starting to go to the gym again, haven't been for two years and hopefully muscle memory will kick in.
posted by Bacillus at 3:51 AM on October 11, 2011

"sculpting" is for folks who have already lost the weight. You need to be burning more calories. As for what to eat, Clif bars pretty much kill my appetite for a while.
posted by notsnot at 4:06 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

Perhaps switching from walking to the gym to running to the gym would be helpful. A little cardiovascular exercise should help.
posted by sciencegeek at 4:20 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

To lose weight, you need to concentrate on cardio rather than lifting...those 45 minutes should be used running, swimming, or cycling. Maybe do 4 cardio workouts and 1 lifting workout a week for a month or two, and then switch to 3 cardio and 2 lifting once your weight is down a bit.

What is your diet like now? If you drink a lot of non-diet soda or beer, that's an easy thing to cut out to drop calories. A good rule of thumb is to eat more vegetables and low-fat proteins and less junk food, sugary processed carbs, and fatty stuff.
posted by emd3737 at 4:20 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Perform the major lifts (Squat/Bench/Press/DL/etc.) as heavy as you can a few times a week. Between 1-3 sets of 3-5 each, depending on the program you end up with. This can be split into body-parts or whole body; doesn't matter. What matters is that you're building strength through lifting heavy. Lifting heavy will maintain and build muscle mass while eating at a deficit. Keep a lifting journal/log, it'll help. Programs like Stronglifts 5x5 or Starting Strength are very common because they work. You don't need to worry about sculpting; build a base level of strength, drop bodyfat, and it'll take care of itself.

Most importantly, track everything you eat.

Eat between 2000 & 2500 calories a day, trying to eat as much protein as possible. 150-200grams of protein/day wouldn't be a bad bet. Eat lots of vegetables. You'll need to adjust the calorie amount per your body as you see fit. I'd start at 2300-2500 calories and drop by a few hundred if the weight's not coming off fast enough. You can play around with Macronutrient splits if you'd like. The important thing is to get plenty of protein. But try 40/40/20, eating 40% of your calories in protein, 40% in carbs, and 20% in fat. Or 40/20/40: 40% protein, 20% carbs, 40% fat. Those seem to be the common splits.

The walk helps, especially with recovery, so keep that up. If you're lifting 3 days a week maybe try doing Couch to 5K on 3 other days. Running isn't necessary for weight loss, but it helps. Weight loss is like 85% diet. It's much easier to not eat 100 calories than it is to burn 100 calories through exercise. Keep lifting to lose weight. I started out at 260lbs with only cardio, but the fat didn't start to shed until added weight lifting in. 1-2lbs per week is a safe range to be dropping weight at. Don't be surprised if it doesn't seem like the weight is moving sometimes; as you build muscle the numbers may stay the same but you will continue to lose fat. 185 is definitely an obtainable goal. Good luck!
posted by swashedbuckles at 4:24 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Forget "sculpting". Do large compound exercises that make your body consume more energy, and since you can't do those so often fill in the gaps with aerobic exercise (running etc). Eat raw almonds; they're full of protein and healthy oil and are also much more filling than junkfood to an equivalent energy value. Don't touch anything with sugar in it, especially soft drinks or fruit juice. Drink tea instead (no milk or sugar). It won't make you lose weight but it'll give you something to drink while you eat almonds.

Can you work standing up? Sitting all day is really bad for you and even a couple of hours of exercise won't make up for it.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:25 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

One word: Paleo. Look here.
posted by bob bisquick at 4:26 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

First I think you need to clarify whether you want to gain maximum muscle mass or whether you want to "sculpt", and whether you want to gain mass or lose it.

To gain maximum muscle mass you need to be lifting heavier and eating more calories.
This is not compatible with losing weight! It's certainly compatible with losing fat and with looking buff, which is a healthier goal all round than simply losing mass.

Here are some example diet guidelines for gaining muscle mass and losing fat.

Here are some guidelines for calculating a good calorie intake, but you will have to decide first whether to gain weight or lose it!
posted by emilyw at 4:27 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I echo the suggestions to do more cardio. In addition to that and other suggestions above... Since you work at home, is there a way you can adjust your desk in a way that allows you to stand sometimes? Standing burns more calories than sitting, and it's overall better for your long term health.
posted by Terriniski at 5:02 AM on October 11, 2011

Paleo diet probably isn't a bad idea. To lose weight you'll have better results from a change in diet. The problem is that to gain muscle, your muscles need fuel. Paleo would probably create a decent enough mix to allow you to gain some muscle and trim the fat. Cardio is a great idea as well.

These two things are hard to do at the same time. I'd concentrate more on losing the weight first - and you'll naturally appear more toned and muscular.
posted by backwards guitar at 5:27 AM on October 11, 2011

Check out /r/fitness.
posted by callmejay at 6:07 AM on October 11, 2011

Remember,the calories expended are a function of distance and body mass--covering 1.2 miles uses the same calories whether running or walking. The key is to add distance and time. The obvious advantage of running is more distance is covered in the same amount of time. I would do aerobic a minimum of 45 minutes per day--focus on weight loss and restrict calories between 2,000 and 2,200. Or establish a base caloric intake of 1500 calories and add calories equal to the amount of calories expended in planned exercise. I agree it is a good idea to eliminate refined carbohydrates--no upside to them and many downsides. Good Luck
posted by rmhsinc at 6:20 AM on October 11, 2011

Remember,the calories expended are a function of distance and body mass--covering 1.2 miles uses the same calories whether running or walking. The key is to add distance and time.

This isn't true; basically, walking is a more efficient means of locomotion, which means you burn fewer calories.

The rule of thumb I go by is 10-12 times your body weight in pounds to lose weight, 14-16 times your body weight in pounds to maintain it. I don't know if you need to go full paleo (My brain stops working very well when I eat very low carb, but some people say this passes), but high protein keeps me full without taking that many calories. (Then again, I'm not shredded or anything). It's way easier to lose weight through diet than through exercise, in my opinion. And it's way easier to run when you're lighter than when you're heavier.

Good luck!
posted by Comrade_robot at 6:35 AM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]

Thanks for the correction--new information to correct misconceptions. It appears the breakeven point is about 5 MPH.
posted by rmhsinc at 7:44 AM on October 11, 2011

What you eat determines how much you will lose.
What you do determines how you will look.
You can't exercise your way out of a bad diet.

For straight weight loss check out low-carb, keto, paleo, IF or the like.

Lifting is fantastic for body composition and self-esteem. If you're fat and weak, be cautious with your high impact activities so that you avoid injury.
posted by unixrat at 7:54 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

ObCredentials: I've lost 120 lbs over the past two years.
posted by unixrat at 7:54 AM on October 11, 2011

A near-Paleo diet to consider is the Slow Carb diet. They overlap in avoiding refined carbohydrates. Ferris has some other recommendations in his book for bulking up quickly, but if your primary goal is to lose weight, substituting slow carbs (beans, lentils) for fast carbs (anything with wheat, rice, potato) can be quite effective. He claims it's good for 5lbs/week with exercise. I'm losing a steady 2lbs/week with no exercise (yet).
posted by dws at 9:15 AM on October 11, 2011

What you need is a treadmill desk! I worked on one for a while when I worked at home and loved it. The weight loss is slow but you'll have so much more energy during the day and it might spur you to add some more exercise at night or on the weekends.
posted by dawkins_7 at 9:19 AM on October 11, 2011

Best answer: Forget about all the suggestions regarding changing your workout; you're doing great (there's little difference between a "sculpting" workout and a "muscle building workout" despite what fitness magazine tell you, although I agree that heavy compound exercises are best for both).

You've asked about your diet, and that's exactly where you need to focus. Weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise, and your exercise is already fine.

There are lots of good suggestions above. Follow some of them, and don't restrict your protein intake. And congratulations -- you already have a healthier lifestyle than most of us!

For additional advice, I recommend the over-35 forum at, even if you're not over 35.
posted by coolguymichael at 9:51 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Seconding coolguymichael... keep up your workouts but get the diet right. Try or one of the other sites out there that let you count calories. Once you know what you should be eating (and portion sizes), the chunk will melt away and you'll see your muscles a lot better, improving your morale even further. (For example, good abs only really happen when you diet away the covering fat, not by doing a million situps.)
posted by teedee2000 at 10:08 AM on October 11, 2011

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