Last week we talked about the potential dangers of losing weight without exercise and the dreaded Fat Overshoot. If you missed it, you can check that out HERE!
Furthermore, it looks like the more muscle you lose on a diet the more likely you may be to experience weight regain after the diet .
What's a solution to this mess?
Recomping or gaining muscle while simultaneously losing body fat.
This week we are going to cover why Recomping is potentially so much better than more normal weight-loss philosophies.
With Recomping, because we are gaining muscle mass while shredding body fat we likely don’t get the more prototypical downsides of weight loss:
- muscle loss
- a decrease in resting metabolic rate (RMR)
- an increase in muscular efficiency (muscles burn fewer calories for the same amount of work)
- and a potential Fat Overshoot.
Recomping potentially allows us to maintain or even increase our RMR while losing significant amounts of body fat [2-5].
For example, given that muscle burns about three times more calories per pound compared to adipose tissue , if for every three pounds of body fat you lost, you gained one pound of muscle your RMR would theoretically be the same in a significant body fat reduced state. (*These are almost the exact body composition results that were found in the famous Longland et al. Recomp study ).
Although these small potential changes in RMR are hard to estimate in practice and probably not of much practical importance to those using counting methodologies around food such as macros , I would wager that your total daily energy expenditure or the number of calories you burn in a day may even INCREASE with Recomping [9, 10].
In theory, this would mean that people could potentially eat MORE calories at a lower body weight, and given that an increase in appetite is one of the largest potential contributors to weight regain [11, 12] this could be monumentally important for successful long-term weight loss!
Although it isn’t a recomp study, as an example Bryner et al.  found that even in a severe energy deficit without sufficient protein, when subjects performed a decent resistance training regimen three days a week for 12 weeks they lost 31.6 lbs of fat, maintained their lean body mass, and had a 63 calorie jump in their resting metabolic rate after 12 weeks.
They also got 23 to 48% stronger on all the tested lifts.
Whereas, the aerobic exercise and diet group lost 28.2 pounds of fat, lost 9.0 pounds of lean body mass, and their resting metabolic rate decreased by 211 calories!
Pure and simple, friends don't let friends lose significant amounts of muscle on a diet and if you are looking to lose body fat and keep it off - Recomping is likely your best play.
TL; DR - Recomping decreases and maybe even eliminates the majority of the downsides of conventional weight-loss strategies. Given the preponderance of data showing the multitude of positive effects, in my opinion, friends don’t let friends diet without resistance training and every study showing a significant body recomposition effect has had a resistance training intervention.
1. Turicchi, J., et al., Associations between the proportion of fat-free mass loss during weight loss, changes in appetite, and subsequent weight change: results from a randomized 2-stage dietary intervention trial. Am J Clin Nutr, 2020. 111(3): p. 536-544.
2. Hopkins, M., et al., Modelling the associations between fat-free mass, resting metabolic rate and energy intake in the context of total energy balance. Int J Obes (Lond), 2016. 40(2): p. 312-8.
3. Mitchell, L., et al., Physiological implications of preparing for a natural male bodybuilding competition. Eur J Sport Sci, 2018: p. 1-11.
4. Pontzer, H., et al., Constrained Total Energy Expenditure and Metabolic Adaptation to Physical Activity in Adult Humans. Curr Biol, 2016. 26(3): p. 410-7.
5. Bryner, R.W., et al., Effects of resistance vs. aerobic training combined with an 800 calorie liquid diet on lean body mass and resting metabolic rate. J Am Coll Nutr, 1999. 18(2): p. 115-21.
6. Wang, Z., et al., Specific metabolic rates of major organs and tissues across adulthood: evaluation by mechanistic model of resting energy expenditure. Am J Clin Nutr, 2010. 92(6): p. 1369-77.
7. Longland, T.M., et al., Higher compared with lower dietary protein during an energy deficit combined with intense exercise promotes greater lean mass gain and fat mass loss: a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr, 2016. 103(3): p. 738-46.
8. Rodriguez, C., et al., Comparison of Indirect Calorimetry and Common Prediction Equations for Evaluating Changes in Resting Metabolic Rate Induced by Resistance Training and a Hypercaloric Diet. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 9000. Publish Ahead of Print.
9. Hunter, G.R., et al., Resistance training increases total energy expenditure and free-living physical activity in older adults. J Appl Physiol (1985), 2000. 89(3): p. 977-84.
10. Poehlman, E.T., et al., Effects of endurance and resistance training on total daily energy expenditure in young women: a controlled randomized trial. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 2002. 87(3): p. 1004-9.
11. Aronne, L.J., et al., Describing the Weight-Reduced State: Physiology, Behavior, and Interventions. Obesity (Silver Spring), 2021. 29 Suppl 1: p. S9-S24.
12. Polidori, D., et al., How Strongly Does Appetite Counter Weight Loss? Quantification of the Feedback Control of Human Energy Intake. Obesity (Silver Spring), 2016. 24(11): p. 2289-2295.