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Can you build muscle in a caloric deficit?

21 May 2019

Written by: Mallvin Rajamohan

The goal of many individuals in to build a muscular and lean physique. And to achieve that, you have to pack on muscle while losing some fat. The goal of many is to to both of these at the same time. Is that possible?

What is a calorie deficit?

A calories deficit is when you take in fewer calories then what your body burns. At the basic level, your body requires a certain amount of calories to do basic body fucntions like digestion,circulation and breathing. This is called your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). It is also the number of calories your body burns at rest. What you never want to do is to eat below this limit as it can be deadly and harmful. There are numerous calroie calulators online to calculator your average calories intake. You will get different values but you just have to stay within the average range.When your muscles break down after a work out, your body goes through a process called "Muscle Protein Synthesis", where the muscles are repaired essentially. However, the body also breaks down muscle in a process called "Muscle Protein breakdown". When muscle protein Synthesis exceeds muscle Protein breakdown, you have built muscle. When you are in a caloric deficit,the rate of protein Synthesis decreases and muscle protein breakdown increases.

To build muscle, you need a caloric surplus. But to lose fat, you need to eat in a caloric deficit. contradicting isnt it. But you can indeed build muscle in a caloric deficit, but you must take note it will be at a very slow rate. I would advise focusing on a single goal. However, for this article i will stick to the topic. Here are some things you can do to build muscle in a caloric deficit.

You want to gradually increase the weight you are lifting so that your muscles are forced to adapt to the new stimulus and are therefore forced to grow

Sure, it's easy to think the higher your calorie deficit, the fater you will lose fat, but there's where you're wrong. The lesser you eat, the harder it will be for you to recover, you will feel fatigued, your will be losing more muscle instead of fat and it is almost 100% unsustainable to be eating that little.

To increase the rate of Muscle Protein Synthesis, you want to be eating a high protein diet. Your muscle are mostly made up amino acids, which is the broken down compound from proteins. A high protein diet is also more filling compared to carbs and fats. So it will keep you fuller longer and help you in your caloric deficit

I hope this helps you achieve your goals. Take care and happy lifting!

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