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  1. #1
    Registered User kplender's Avatar
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    Can fat be used as the fuel to build muscle?

    I think this is a dumb question, but here goes. I have read many times that you must eat a calorie surplus in order to build muscle. However, if you have excess body fat, can your body use that fat as the fuel/energy to build muscle? Or can that fuel/energy needed to build muscle only be obtained through calories consumed?
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  2. #2
    Where's my flip flops ? jayluk4600's Avatar
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    Dumb, I dunno maybe a bit but I believe what you may be relating to is a keto diet, not exactly sure about that but IMO thats dangerous. Your main fuel source should be from calories.
    Keep it simple
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  3. #3
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    Originally Posted by kplender View Post
    ...excess body fat, can your body use that fat as the fuel/energy to build muscle?
    Keyword: excess. Yes. You can eat at deficit and use excess BF for muscle building. Where it tapers off and you need to go to surplus eating isn't a hard number, but for myself I've noticed strength gains on maintenance/deficit eating somewhere around 15%. When I hit 12-ish, I definitely need to go to surplus eating for growth.
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  4. #4
    Stalling @ 3,300 calories Tomohawk92's Avatar
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    as energy yes but not a replacement for protein
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  5. #5
    I'll Rest When I'm Dead ironwill2008's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by kplender View Post
    I think this is a dumb question, but here goes. I have read many times that you must eat a calorie surplus in order to build muscle. However, if you have excess body fat, can your body use that fat as the fuel/energy to build muscle? Or can that fuel/energy needed to build muscle only be obtained through calories consumed?
    This question gets asked here at least every other day. It's usually phrased as,"Can I lose fat at the same time as I build muscle?"

    In theory, it's possible, but in practice it's a very difficult state to achieve for anyone other than an obese noob (IOW, someone who's never weight trained before and who is carrying a lot of body fat).

    For someone who is already relatively lean, and has a training history, adding muscle while on a 'cut' is unlikely. Just getting through a successful cut (successful being dropping the desired amount of bf while losing only minimal muscle mass) is hard enough to do, and requires nutritional discipline that stymies all but the most dedicated trainees. Expecting to build additional muscle during this process is misguided, IMO.
    No brain, no gain.

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  6. #6
    NAS Strongman bigtallox's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by mrmrbill View Post
    Keyword: excess. Yes. You can eat at deficit and use excess BF for muscle building.
    In theory, I don't think that's correct. If you eat below maintenance, your body can burn fat as energy, but it's not going to burn fat and use that order to build muscle. If you're saying that you can build muscle while eating below maintenance.... Good luck to you ( Ive found it's much more productive to not even try ).
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  7. #7
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    Yep... Nutrition forum/ Keto section that way ---------------->
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  8. #8
    Train hard play harder Tommy W.'s Avatar
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    At higher bodyfat percentages, yes. As you get leaner your body will give up less and less stored fat for building muscle until it will give nothing at all when it gets to acertain point. It's a survival mechanism that we have built into us.
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  9. #9
    Banned mrmrbill's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by bigtallox View Post
    In theory, I don't think that's correct. If you eat below maintenance, your body can burn fat as energy, but it's not going to burn fat and use that order to build muscle. If you're saying that you can build muscle while eating below maintenance.... Good luck to you ( Ive found it's much more productive to not even try ).
    Depends on how much "excess" is excess to fuel the process. At ~24+%, its not difficult give up stored energy to fuel the process. At 12% probably not happening at all -- body gets very very stingy. There's a threshold in between that gets into diminishing returns where it's unproductive to try/keep trying, thus surplus/deficit cycling is required. It's the basic premise of body recomposition.
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  10. #10
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    Originally Posted by ironwill2008 View Post
    This question gets asked here at least every other day. It's usually phrased as,"Can I lose fat at the same time as I build muscle?"

    In theory, it's possible, but in practice it's a very difficult state to achieve for anyone other than an obese noob (IOW, someone who's never weight trained before and who is carrying a lot of body fat).

    For someone who is already relatively lean, and has a training history, adding muscle while on a 'cut' is unlikely. Just getting through a successful cut (successful being dropping the desired amount of bf while losing only minimal muscle mass) is hard enough to do, and requires nutritional discipline that stymies all but the most dedicated trainees. Expecting to build additional muscle during this process is misguided, IMO.

    Damn Will, we have a guy on this forum who lost 74 lbs of fat and added 20lbs of lean muscle at the same time...in one year. Easy peasy.
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  11. #11
    Registered User JerryB's Avatar
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    Muscle will use fat for aerobic activities. Fat is use in excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. The act of weight training in anaerobic therefore creatine phosphate, glycogen, and glucose are the primary sources for energy.

    I use carbohydrates and protein as the source for surplus calories when I’m attempting to gain muscle mass. The calories from the surplus carbohydrates and protein are in excess of the calories needed to meet my daily caloric requirement. The surplus calories gives me the source for anaerobic energy, the carbohydrates for the workouts, and the source for the amino acids to build muscle tissue, the protein.
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  12. #12
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    Brackneyc, and another one right here, who has lost 105 lbs of fat, and put on 30 lbs of lean muscle, in 28 months..... But I still didn't really gain muscle and lose fat at the same exact times. Lost a whole bunch of fat originally.... and at that point, I had next to zero muscle to lose anyway !
    But since then, I've bulked and cut about 6 X's. Like you said, easy peasy < At least for anybody with OCD, who gets BB'ing lodged into his brain

    Fish

    Oh, but to the OP, like several have already said > conceivable for a noob, but not likely for anybody else. Even if a guy could gain a small amount of muscle, while losing some fat at the same time, why ? When he could make far more progress cutting and bulking ?


    Originally Posted by Brackneyc View Post
    Damn Will, we have a guy on this forum who lost 74 lbs of fat and added 20lbs of lean muscle at the same time...in one year. Easy peasy.
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  13. #13
    Registered User rand18m's Avatar
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    Wow I'm not sure where to start.

    There are no light switches, when running a deficit the body will compensate by degrading multiple tissues for substrates.

    Fat, or free fatty acids can not be used to synthesize proteins, they can and are used every second of everyday for fuel.

    Proteins are also degraded every second of every day for multiple reasons and they too can be used for fuel, for instance during fasting they can or will be converted into glucose for the brain.

    Protein synthesis requires amino acids, which comes from both endogenous and exogenous sources, part of the great controversy over how much we should eat (exogenous)!

    The best advice likely is from people like Jerry B who has experience losing body fat while minimizing protein degradation.
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  14. #14
    Do I Even Lift? billb7581's Avatar
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    It's a very difficult state to achieve for anyone other than an obese noob (IOW, someone who's never weight trained before and who is carrying a lot of body fat).
    Heh.. I got something going for me!
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  15. #15
    Registered User JerryB's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ironwill2008 View Post
    This question gets asked here at least every other day. It's usually phrased as,"Can I lose fat at the same time as I build muscle?"

    In theory, it's possible, but in practice it's a very difficult state to achieve for anyone other than an obese noob (IOW, someone who's never weight trained before and who is carrying a lot of body fat).

    For someone who is already relatively lean, and has a training history, adding muscle while on a 'cut' is unlikely. Just getting through a successful cut (successful being dropping the desired amount of bf while losing only minimal muscle mass) is hard enough to do, and requires nutritional discipline that stymies all but the most dedicated trainees. Expecting to build additional muscle during this process is misguided, IMO.
    The people who ask this question I guess want a sunny sky on a rainy day.
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  16. #16
    Lean Bulking 67fastback's Avatar
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    I highly doubt that the fat ever turns into muscle. If you combine a good cardio program with lifting and extremely disciplined diet, it's possible that the good nutrients are used by the body to build muscle, and the cardio burns the fat.

    About the only way fat builds muscle, is by carrying it around, or if you loaded lard in a box, and lifted it over your head!

    Try concentrating on your diet. It's the most important thing you can do.
    Good luck!
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  17. #17
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    Originally Posted by kplender View Post
    However, if you have excess body fat, can your body use that fat as the fuel/energy to build muscle? Or can that fuel/energy needed to build muscle only be obtained through calories consumed?
    recomp is nothing new. plenty of ppl have done it successfully & naturally.
    as was mentioned its most readily done when u are carrying a lot of excess bodyfat & grinds to a stop when u become lean. but the mechanism does exist - it does not defy laws as some will have you believe.

    u mention calories from excess body fat being used to build muscle.
    now consider the opposite - the calories from excess body fat being used to contribute fuel for daily activities while the calories from the food u eat used to build muscle.
    which is correct? answer is both. your body will not separate the calories. it does not know the difference & will use all sources at once.


    Originally Posted by Tomohawk92 View Post
    as energy yes but not a replacement for protein
    Originally Posted by rand18m View Post
    Wow I'm not sure where to start.

    There are no light switches, when running a deficit the body will compensate by degrading multiple tissues for substrates.

    Fat, or free fatty acids can not be used to synthesize proteins, they can and are used every second of everyday for fuel.

    Proteins are also degraded every second of every day for multiple reasons and they too can be used for fuel, for instance during fasting they can or will be converted into glucose for the brain.

    Protein synthesis requires amino acids, which comes from both endogenous and exogenous sources, part of the great controversy over how much we should eat (exogenous)!
    this issue has nothing to do with protein. nobody implied fat will turn into protein. there was no need for either of you to start at all.

    Originally Posted by 67fastback View Post
    I highly doubt that the fat ever turns into muscle. If you combine a good cardio program with lifting and extremely disciplined diet, it's possible that the good nutrients are used by the body to build muscle, and the cardio burns the fat.

    About the only way fat builds muscle, is by carrying it around, or if you loaded lard in a box, and lifted it over your head!

    Try concentrating on your diet. It's the most important thing you can do.
    Good luck!
    lol nobody implied the fat will turn into muscle.



    Originally Posted by JerryB View Post
    Muscle will use fat for aerobic activities. Fat is use in excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. The act of weight training in anaerobic therefore creatine phosphate, glycogen, and glucose are the primary sources for energy.

    I use carbohydrates and protein as the source for surplus calories when I’m attempting to gain muscle mass. The calories from the surplus carbohydrates and protein are in excess of the calories needed to meet my daily caloric requirement. The surplus calories gives me the source for anaerobic energy, the carbohydrates for the workouts, and the source for the amino acids to build muscle tissue, the protein.
    ppl doing recomp should make sure their glycogen levels are full before training because performance is best when using carbs as the main fuel source. this simply means they will use their excess bodyfat to help fuel the rest of their daily activities.



    ppl should take note that the amount of calories required to build new muscle is negligible compared to the calories expended during the training that stimulates it & the protein required to build new muscle is negligible compared to the protein required to rebuild what you simply tore down. this can easily be proven if you simply consider calorie content & protein content of 20lbs of muscle built over the course of a whole year with regards to daily requirements.
    Last edited by gomez26; 01-12-2012 at 12:44 AM.
    "Though the concept is not scientifically validated in detail (it should be considered as a hypothesis rather than a scientific theory), it is useful from a practical standpoint. When training athletes, it is impossible to wait until scientific research provides all of the necessary knowledge." Vladmir M. Zatsiorsky, Ph.D.
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    "this issue has nothing to do with protein. nobody implied fat will turn into protein. there was no need for either of you to start at all."

    I certainly did interpret his question in that manner and I'm not completely convinced that isn't what he was asking, if he is simply asking if the body uses fat for fuel, well then I would think he would no the answer to that one. What tissue has nothing to do with protein? Not sure what you are referencing there.











    ppl should take note that the amount of calories required to build new muscle is negligible compared to the calories expended during the training that stimulates it & the protein required to build new muscle is negligible compared to the protein required to rebuild what you simply tore down. this can easily be proven if you simply consider calorie content & protein content of 20lbs of muscle built over the course of a whole year with regards to daily requirements.[/QUOTE]

    I'm not sure you said that the way you intended.
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    Originally Posted by ironwill2008 View Post
    In theory, it's possible, but in practice it's a very difficult state to achieve for anyone other than an obese noob (IOW, someone who's never weight trained before and who is carrying a lot of body fat).
    Two things:

    1) I'd bet that close to 100% of the people who post this question are new to body building/weight training and are are overweight. The reason they ask the question is all over the 'net is bro-science about how you burn muscle before burning fat when on a diet. It has become an article of faith that you cannot lose excess bodyfat while increasing strength/mass. Hence the confusion.

    2) The bro-science is not exactly correct. If you are a reasonably trim ectomorph trying to get cut for a competition, calorie deficits will result in some muscle loss, not a lot, but some. If you are in a famine, you will experience severe muscle loss. If you are like most of the people coming here asking the question, an endomorph carrying fifty pounds of blubber or more, the bro-science does not apply.
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    Originally Posted by 2nd_chance View Post
    Yep... Nutrition forum/ Keto section that way ---------------->
    I am about to finish my 21st week of Body Opus... duchaines badass CKD... and i can tell you it is possible!! and i have gone from 216 and 20.6+% body fat (171.5lbm) down to 200 at 12.6% body fat (174.8 LBM). Slow and accurate is how you acheive this..
    21 weeks of keto is not for the weak at heart / i will continue down to >10% another several weeks out but i also plan to stay about the same body weight.

    most guys say it cant be done mostly because they are unwilling to crunch numbers and stay consistant enough to acheive it. IMO you should try and acheive it yourself to see if it has any merrit for u.
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    Originally Posted by BillReilly View Post
    Two things:

    1) I'd bet that close to 100% of the people who post this question are new to body building/weight training and are are overweight. The reason they ask the question is all over the 'net is bro-science about how you burn muscle before burning fat when on a diet. It has become an article of faith that you cannot lose excess bodyfat while increasing strength/mass. Hence the confusion.

    2) The bro-science is not exactly correct. If you are a reasonably trim ectomorph trying to get cut for a competition, calorie deficits will result in some muscle loss, not a lot, but some. If you are in a famine, you will experience severe muscle loss. If you are like most of the people coming here asking the question, an endomorph carrying fifty pounds of blubber or more, the bro-science does not apply.
    again i know the keto section is ---> that way... but in your second bullet point you talk about famine.. i wanted to point out the intristic hormonal cascade that happens in responce to starvation does exactly the oppisite of what u said. the body will begin to fracture fatcells to produce energy in the brain long before its willing to give up muscle. i think people are niave about this. in fact the once the body enters ketosis it begins to preserve muscle and evacuate fat for fuel. also its those same processes that can wind up killing you in the end.. as the longer you starve out your body and a the ketones become less and less available.. your mind signals strong emotions of satiety and comfort.. thus maybe helping starvation somewhat due to a lessend urgency to find food. ... this is a huge benifit to dieters looking to lose body fat.. but its also often discounted or overlooked because of certain myths about keto diets vs. other type diets.

    jus sayin...
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    Originally Posted by xR1pp3Rx View Post
    again i know the keto section is ---> that way... but in your second bullet point you talk about famine.. i wanted to point out the intristic hormonal cascade that happens in responce to starvation does exactly the oppisite of what u said.
    I wrote "famine" not "famished." Different words, different meanings. I know you Keto guys have your own catechism about this stuff, but I'm not addressing that in any way.
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    Originally Posted by BillReilly View Post
    Two things:

    1) I'd bet that close to 100% of the people who post this question are new to body building/weight training and are are overweight. The reason they ask the question is all over the 'net is bro-science about how you burn muscle before burning fat when on a diet. It has become an article of faith that you cannot lose excess bodyfat while increasing strength/mass. Hence the confusion.

    2) The bro-science is not exactly correct. If you are a reasonably trim ectomorph trying to get cut for a competition, calorie deficits will result in some muscle loss, not a lot, but some. If you are in a famine, you will experience severe muscle loss. If you are like most of the people coming here asking the question, an endomorph carrying fifty pounds of blubber or more, the bro-science does not apply.
    Good reply!

    Protein turnover or degradation happens every second of everyday. When synthesis outpaces turnover, for instance through adaptation, then we would have net synthesis, (build muscle for instance) When the opposite is the case, well then, you get the picture.

    As example, in micro gravity we know we loose muscle mass, but whether or not that is from increased degradation, or decreased synthesis is not well understood yet, that according to Dr. Fluckey, an expert in this subject. You can find his work, which focus' on protein synthesis, at pubmed and other locations. Good luck everyone!
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    Originally Posted by BillReilly View Post
    I wrote "famine" not "famished." Different words, different meanings. I know you Keto guys have your own catechism about this stuff, but I'm not addressing that in any way.
    i realise what you wrote but only posted because ketosis is a bi-product (for lack of better term) of starvation.. and while us keto guys are famished... the processes i spoke of is do to famine / starvation. again not trying to get into any kind of war of words just trying to add to the conversation.
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    Originally Posted by mrmrbill View Post
    Depends on how much "excess" is excess to fuel the process. At ~24+%, its not difficult give up stored energy to fuel the process. At 12% probably not happening at all -- body gets very very stingy. There's a threshold in between that gets into diminishing returns where it's unproductive to try/keep trying, thus surplus/deficit cycling is required. It's the basic premise of body recomposition.
    Very interesting tread. Sometime in summer when is hot I just drink one protein shake + B complex and it is it for day and go work. My target is that beer belly that I can't reed of no matter what. After a few hours of work all suddenly like a switch I fill extremely tired and barely can walk. So body refuse to use beer belly fat for energy. Seems to me will rather fall unconscious then push body to use that fat. Translate in weight no matter what I do I can’t go below 200 pounds.
    What now occur to me maybe I’m actually depleted of transmitters (glycogen or B complex or whatsoever) need to body to be capable use body fat for energy. As I saw this a lot advertised “5 hours energy” pills are B complex and not much more.
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    Originally Posted by xR1pp3Rx View Post
    i realise what you wrote but only posted because ketosis is a bi-product (for lack of better term) of starvation.. and while us keto guys are famished... the processes i spoke of is do to famine / starvation. again not trying to get into any kind of war of words just trying to add to the conversation.
    No worries. I've been jumped by a few keto fans here and tend to view you guys like a group of youths with baggy pants, loitering near the entrance of an ATM.
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    Originally Posted by kplender View Post
    I think this is a dumb question, but here goes. I have read many times that you must eat a calorie surplus in order to build muscle. However, if you have excess body fat, can your body use that fat as the fuel/energy to build muscle? Or can that fuel/energy needed to build muscle only be obtained through calories consumed?
    1lb of fat 3500calories. The body will metabolize and use for fuel. This is how you can gain muscle whilst on a deficit providing you are eating above maintenance for your protein source.
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    Originally Posted by BillReilly View Post
    No worries. I've been jumped by a few keto fans here and tend to view you guys like a group of youths with baggy pants, loitering near the entrance of an ATM.
    thats funney cause dem same pricks have jumped me before, cause im olskoo... **** just shakes his head****
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    I don't think I phrased my question very well. I think what I am wondering is this. If I eat at a "maintenance" level, and I have excess body fat, can my body gain muscle by using the excess fat as the "excess" calories needed to gain muscle?
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    Originally Posted by kplender View Post
    I think this is a dumb question, but here goes. I have read many times that you must eat a calorie surplus in order to build muscle. However, if you have excess body fat, can your body use that fat as the fuel/energy to build muscle? Or can that fuel/energy needed to build muscle only be obtained through calories consumed?
    Let's make this simple. The short answer is no, the long answer is yes.

    At rest, your body will burn fat for energy if there's nothing else available (fasted).

    During higher intensity exercise, your body will burn fat and muscle if there's nothing else available (fasted).

    Regardless of exercise, your body will burn calories from the blood stream when fed. This is because blood insulin is high enough such that the liver has no need to secrete the enzymes that start gluconeogenesis (converting fat and protein into energy). Note - does not apply to ketosis. Also, for anaerobic exercise, stored energy in the muscles/leiver themselves supply the energy for the contractions.

    Your body has zero reason to burn fat if energy can be gotten from food.
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