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Burn fat before building muscle?

Is it better to burn fat before building muscle or should I just focus on building muscle and burn the fat after. I'm relatively fit already, just a little excess around the edges. What's the best approach, as I know you can't really do both at the same time.


The Best Answer

If you're already fairly lean (under 16 percent for women and 10-12 percent for men), then it's okay to work on building muscle while minimizing fat gain. When you're leaner, your body will put on more muscle than fat (provided you eat correctly). However, if your body fat is higher than the above, it's best to get leaner first so your body won't put on more fat when trying to put on the muscle. Men with 15 percent body fat or higher that try to gain muscle end up putting on a lot more fat since insulin resistance is higher the more body fat you contain.

  • MichaelnSF commented Nov 1st 2011:

    potentially you mean Leptin Resistance and not insulin resistance? Or both?

All Answers


You can do both at the same time. Building muscle is probably the best way to burn fat.

  • Stephen commented May 9th 2011:
    Yes, I agree with this completely. As you build muscle you will increase your resting metabolic rate which means even while sitting you are burning more calories. Also, let's not forget that it just makes you feel better!


I've found its easier to lean out and then build up. It'll give you less fat to lose after you gain muscle.


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I personally started by loosing fat even though I'm a pretty skinny dude. I had a little tire around my waist that I wanted to get rid of. Once I did that along with some Kettle Bell swings and situps for a few weeks, I felt as though I had built a strong core and I was really confident and excited to start building muscle.

I've been doing Geek To Freak for about 2 weeks and am getting similar results - meaning I'm putting on muscle. I'm a bit more confident in G2F because the other diet and workout went so well. If I had the confidence I have now, then, I probably would have started with Geek to Freak.

Let me shorten that for you. If I could do it again I'd probably start with building muscle then loosing fat, but if you don't have a strong core yet think about starting with a the slow carb diet and some kettle bells.


Teorethically, it would be better to build muscle first, since more lean muscle means a higher basal metabolic rate, making the job easier later.

What I did was lose about 30 pounds first, and then add muscle, because the results get more visible quicker, and you can stay motivated more easily.

So, you should choose between both.


Great answers everyone. I was wondering the exact same thing.


I have the same question. Are you doing Geek to Freak or Occam's Protocol? Also, are you following slow-carb plus some good starches and milk?


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I should probably be just losing fat instead of gaining muscle but I need to work out so therefore I am gaining muscle as I lose fat. Its just slower to show on a scale.


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Definitely build muscle - muscle increases metabolism and causes you to burn fat 24/7

So it makes no sense and makes it even harder to just lean up first, effective workout will replace the fat with some toned muscles


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Everyone had some good answers... one thought I have is that if you are very overweight, its probably better to focus on losing that fat first to help avoid injury

Perhaps some would disagree but that's my approach and one of the main reasons I am taking it.


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Building muscle actually helps you burn fat faster, I've read that 1lb of muscle mass will burn 100 cals per day. More muscle, more fuel=more calories burnt, therefore it actually helps you lose weight.


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In your case you can do both, or you can focus on muscle right now, for people like me (way overweight) it's better to lose first the fat and then build muscle :D

  • Mr.Happy commented Feb 18th 2012:

    @ thebraveman, I am 5"11 and weigh in at 311 lbs, I sort of think we may be in the same boat. Muscle mas will help you burn more calories and help with that loose skin you'll have after you loose the weight.


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While it's possible to just burn pure fat, you will probably burn muscle too. Similarly, you won't ever put on pure muscle, you'll gain a little fat with it. Before you guys reply and tell me this is incorrect, at least agree with me that this is true for the average person who is not very very high or very very low in body fat.

I have tried both before and I think the way to go is lose fat first and then slowly put on muscle. The increased metabolism you'll get from increased muscle mass is HIGHLY overstated.


What about doing the exercises from Occam's protocol as resistance training while trying to burn fat on the slow carb diet?

  • tuffdadsf commented Jul 6th 2011:

    That's what I am doing and seeing good results

  • Anthony Schneider commented Feb 23rd 2013:

    Me too....It's working out fine for me. I am getting leaner and stronger and noticing in visually too.

  • Franklin Bonner commented Jan 1st 2014:

    I'm doing the same thing. Occam's while slow carbing. Admittedly, I have to rely on measures besides weight for motivation and tracking progress, but as long as you stick to the program, I don't think it hurts to do both at the same time. If I'm not seeing the results I want in a month, I will switch to more cardio/toning routines.

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