Should I focus first on fat loss or muscle growth? This is the burning question for most people starting on a fitness routine. Typically, experts would recommend focusing on both. However brand-new research now has shown that it may be better to skew slighly more toward fat loss, as that may also help you build more muscle in the long run.
University of Illinois researchers had young adult males consume a high-protein meal, and then they measured the increase in muscle protein synthesis (the anabolic response) following that meal. They broke the subjects into three different groups: (1) healthy-weight individuals (BMI = 18-24); (2) overweight individuals (BMI = 25-29); and (3) obese individuals (BMI > 30). As published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in September 2016, the UI researchers discovered that the healthy-weight men had a much higher boost in muscle protein synthesis than both the overweight and obese guys. In other words, the leaner guys were able to put more protein towards muscle growth.
Having more body fat appears to blunt your body’s anabolic response to protein. This may mean the more fat you have, the less muscle you can build, perhaps due to a cytokine (specific protein) in the body called TNF-alpha. This protein is known to be higher in people with higher amounts of body fat, and TNF-alpha also appears to be involved with inflammation in the body.
Based on the research, it seems that a smart strategy for maximizing muscle growth is to minimize body fat. That’s right – staying lean can help you stay more anabolic, which can help you build more muscle and strength.
This also supports the strategy of using Fat Burners even while focusing on mass gaining. Remember, the ingredients in Fat Burners don’t inhibit muscle growth; they actually promote it, both directly via ingredients like acetyl-L-carnitine and green tea extract, and indirectly by aiding fat loss (which, based off the of the University of Illinois study, may further promote muscle mass gain.)
So again, you don’t have to choose one exclusively over the other in the mass gain vs. fat loss dilemma, but if you have a substantial amount of fat to shed, you may want to take the “back door” to muscle-gaining by leaning out first.
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