Skip to content


    Attention All WebMD Community Members:

    These message boards are closed to posting. Please head on over to our new WebMD Message Boards to check out and participate in the great conversations taking place:

    Your new WebMD Message Boards are now open!

    Making the move is as easy as 1-2-3.

    1. Head over to this page:

    2. Choose the tag from the drop-down menu that clicks most with you (and add it to any posts you create so others can easily find and sort through posts)

    3. Start posting

    Have questions? Email us anytime at [email protected]

    Includes Expert Content
    Can you gain muscle and lose fat at the same time?
    jbb239 posted:
    I research this topic all the time and I can never get a straight answer. Can you lose body fat and gain muscle mass at the same time and if so how? In addition, can you run about 4 to 5 miles every other day and gain muscle?

    Thanks for your time
    rohvannyn responded:
    Definitely! Where people get confused is, fat doesn't TURN INTO muscle and vice versa. Body builders have different "building" and "cutting" phases but that isn't needed for people just wanting to get fitter. Gaining muscle will help you lose fat because it burns more calories. You can gain muscle while running too... your legs would get stronger, but it's probably going to be a leaner looking muscle. Do some weight training if you can. I'm sure Rich will have awesome suggestions.
    Rich Weil, MEd, CDE responded:
    Hi Jason,

    In our lab many years ago a study was done that showed that loss of muscle mass can be slowed down during wt loss. Subjects lost an avg of 21 pounds in 8 weeks (considered rapid weight loss). The rapid wt loss was intentional to see what happened to muscle mass. It turns out that if they didn't exercise while they were losing, they lost an average of 37% of their weight from muscle! If they did resistance exercise they lost only 2 pounds of muscle. And again, this was a lot of weight loss and it was rapid, which frequently causes at least some muscle loss. In addition to maintenance of muscle mass, the biceps of the subjects increased 0.6 inches when relaxed, and increased 1.1 inches flexed. I suggest that if you lost weight/fat at a reasonable rate (not more than 2 pounds a week), then you will do fine as long as you're lifting. As for running, you'll have to experiment. It's not clear where the cut off is as to how much cardio causes prevention of muscle gain, or muscle loss. Certainly an hour a day of cardio will not help. But if you look at triathletes, they do lots of cardio and lifting, and they certainly have muscular physiques. Give your running a whirl and see. You might want to do lifting first if muscle mass is your primary onbjective.

    Importantly, you should have objective measures of your mass and progress.

    The standard circumference measurements are arms (flexed and relaxed), chest (after a normal exhale), shoulders (the widest part), waist (the narrowest part below the ribs and above the belly button), abdomen (across the belly button), buttocks (at the maximum extension of the buttocks), gluteal/thigh (high on the thigh at the groove where the buttocks end), mid-thigh (halfway between the crease in the groin and the top of the knee cap), and calf (at the maximum circumference, either with leg hanging freely off a table or with legs 8 inches apart and weight distributed evenly). Keep the tape horizontal during measurements and pull the tape lightly so it indents the skin only slightly.

    You might also want to measure your body composition (the amount of fat and muscle you have). You can monitor your body fat by using a bioelectric impedance (BIA) scale. You can buy a BIA scale for around $45. Check and for more information. You can also use calipers at your gym if they do that.

    Good luck. Rich
    JoePowers responded:
    Raise Your BMR
    I think people often think about cardio as the exercise of choice, especially women. This is great for building your heart muscle. The high impact is where the problems arise, especially when you get older. Also, crazy drivers will run you down. I think resistance training should be more important than cardio training. I have lost 80 lbs. and have I have raised my BMR considerably. Basal Metabolic Rate keeps me burning calories while sitting at my desk at work or doing nothing at all. My biceps, chest, abs and legs are constantly burning while preparing for the next energy drain from my next work out. I also do fast short burst of cardio. I ride elliptical as fast as I can for 2 minutes and the go easy for 2 minutes and then turn the resistance up very high for 2 minutes and then back to easy for 2 minutes. About 15 minutes later my heart rate is up and my body is feeling great. I alternate my routine every other day. I have a life and I have a great, safe and healthy work out.
    brunosbud responded:

    "...It is very important to realize that you need to lose body fat and not muscle mass because the muscles give shape to your body and most important you need them to keep your metabolism high and burn calories throughout the day and night. Your muscles are the furnace that burns your body fat. The more muscles you have, the easier it will be to get and stay lean!..."

    Good luck.

    Helpful Tips

    weight loss for diabetics
    I'm diabetic and have a horrible time with carbs. Recently came across His system seems to be working with no adverse ... More
    Was this Helpful?
    1 of 3 found this helpful

    Helpful Resources

    Related Drug Reviews

    • Drug Name User Reviews

    Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

    FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.