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Lose Body Fat vs. Build Muscle

If you are beginning your fitness journey, you have so many choices to ponder.  Should I lose bodyfat?  Should I try to gain muscle?  Can I do both at the same time?   I had many similar questions when I first started.  Here is a simple guide that my coach used to help me and others figure out these questions.  He shared this with us in a recent team challenge that I got involved in (called the Misfit Challenge).   It provides a simple blueprint to follow and takes the guesswork out of designing your nutrition goals




If you are MORE than 2% away from your body fat goal, you need to be on a fat shredder diet.  That means 50% protein, 30% carbs, 20% fat.  Let’s say your goal is 8% body fat — as long as you are over 10% body fat you will stay on fat shredder (whether that takes 1 month or 6 months).  We want to shed fat fast until we get very close to our goal before switching to a balanced phase 2 diet.  You also need to be running a good deficit of calories (taking in less than you burn in a day).  As for the total number of calories, these are my recommendations:



6′ and above = 1900-2200 cals per day.

5’6 – 5’11” = 1700-1900 cals per day.

less than 5’6″ = 1500 cals per day.



5’6 and above = 1200-1400 per day.

less than 5’6″ = 1000-1200 per day.


Running the fat shredder at these calorie totals will results in rapid body fat loss, which is what we are after.



If you are within 2% of your ideal body fat, you need to be on a phase 2 diet (40/40/20) that is close to your maintenance calorie level.  During this type of diet, the main goal is a slow reduction of body fat but a lot of energy for getting stronger and building muscle.  This is where you see fine tuning of your results.  My recommendations for those needing a phase 2 energy booster diet are:



6′ and above = 3,000 cals per day.

5’6″ – 5’11” = 2600-2800 cals per day.

less than 5’6″ = 2200 – 2400 cals per day.



5’6 and above = 1400 – 1600 per day.

less than 5’6″ = 1200 – 1400 per day.




If you are already shredded, then it’s time to build MUSCLE!!  (But NO, you can’t start bulking if you still have body fat to lose!  You must first get the body fat where you want it using the fat shredder diet or energy booster diet before you start bulking up).  For a muscle building diet, you need a lot of carbs to give you tons of energy and fuel the muscles to the max.  You should shoot for 50-60% carbs, 20-30% protein, and 20% fat.  But make sure those carbs are GOOD carbs!  Fruits, veggies, grains, wheats, oats, etc.  And you need to take in a calorie SURPLUS to help you gain weight, but you want to monitor your weight closely to be sure you are at a steady pace of about 1 lb per week.  If you are gaining more than that, it will be body fat which you don’t want.  In a round of the X, you should be able to put on 13 lbs of muscle without increasing your body fat much at all if you do it 1 lb per week.  Here’s my guidelines for total calories on a bulking diet (but you’ll need to adjust based on how fast you are / aren’t gaining weight each week):



6′ and above = 3,600 cals per day.

5’6″ – 5’11” = 3000 – 3200 cals per day.

less than 5’6″ = 2800 – 3000 cals per day.



5’6 and above = 1800 – 2000 per day.

less than 5’6″ = 1600 – 1800 per day.


So, what are your goals?  Is it time to shed body fat and use the Fat Shredding and Energy Boosting diets?  Or is time to start building musle?  For myself, I am 6 foot 1 inch tall and currently below 10% body fat, which was my goal last Round of P90x. I have now moved from a Fat Shredding diet of (50% Protein, 30% Carbs, 20% Fat) of 1900 calories to an energy boosting diet.  My plan is to really dial my nutrition this round to maintain my weight with a more balanced menu of 40% Protein, 40% Carbs, 20% Fat and 3000 calories.


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