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Are you someone with a high percentage of body fat with low levels of muscle mass aka skinny-fat, and looking to build muscle while losing this fat?

This is the whole idea behind what is known as body recomposition.

Read on as Edwin shares his thoughts on body recomposition, as well as three crucial steps in order to achieve your desired body in this skinny-fat body transformation guide:

What is Body Recomposition

Body recomposition is most relevant to individuals with a skinny fat or higher body fat physique since we will be able to shred off fat while building muscle (two exact things that our body needs to aesthetically look better) with just one process.

Body recomposition is challenging but not impossible to achieve!

The basic law of thermodynamics states that we need to be at a calorie deficit in order to lose weight and strip off fat. But the drawback with being at a calorie deficit is that it severely compromises our ability to build muscle.

Multiple scientific research papers have also shown that muscle protein synthesis significantly reduces by about 20-30% due to the fact that we are not providing optimal fuel for our muscles to recover and grow bigger. 

However, the body has actually been shown to be able to oxidise our own body fat (the process of breaking down fatty acids) as fuel to now provide the necessary energy it needs to recover and grow our muscles despite being in a calorie deficit. Hence allowing us to build muscle and lose fat simultaneously. 

[Note: Turning fat into muscle is physiologically impossible, as muscle and fat are made up of different cells.]

With that being said, research has indicated that the following individuals are more likely to experience this and benefit the most from the strategy.

They are:

  1. Beginner lifters with no or minimal training experience.

  2. Detrained individuals who have spent some time off from the gym.

  3. Those at a high body fat percentage (>25%)

  4. People who have never taken their training and nutrition seriously or have never really been consistent with it.

Nonetheless, trained and experienced individuals can still experience body recomposition especially with the proper execution of the strategy. It has appeared multiple times in research and also in my own experience as shown in the image below.

Picture 1-1

The Three Simple Steps to Body Recomposition

Aforementioned, if you fit into the above four categories or just simply want to give this strategy a try, here are 3 simple steps you need to take!

Step 1: Set up your Body Recomposition Nutrition Strategy

1. Suggested Total Daily Calorie Intake

Eat at a very slight deficit of approximately 5% to a maximum of 20%. For most individuals, this equates to around 100-500 calories below maintenance calories. If you are at a higher body fat percentage, you should aim for the higher end. And vice versa for those with a lower body fat percentage.

This allows your body to:

  • Have adequate energy it needs for optimal performance in the gym and recovery.

  • Will not experience a dramatic decrease in protein synthesis for muscle growth.

  • Able to achieve further fat loss through better exercise expenditure, a faster metabolic rate, and higher levels of NEAT. Basically, you will burn more calories per day by being more subconsciously active since you are better fuelled.

How to calculate your suggested daily calorie intake:

  • Multiply your body weight in lbs by 15-16 depending on your body fat. This gives you a rough idea of your maintenance calories.

  • Subtracting that number by 100-500 calories to find your daily calorie intake on a deficit.

2. Splitting your Macronutrients
  • Aim for a daily protein intake of around 1g/lb of your body weight. [1g protein=4cal]

  • Fill the rest of the calories with carbs [1g carb=4cal] and fat [1g fat=9cal].

  • The general recommendation for macros breakdown in percentages for body recomposition [Protein 35-40%, Carb 30-35%, Fat 25%-30%]

Step 2: Set up your Optimal Training Program based on progressive overload principle and periodisation. 

1. Ideal Training Frequency Per Muscle Group and Sets [Progressive Overload Principle]

  • Train each muscle group at least 2x a week

  • Adequate volume of around 10-20sets per muscle group per week.

2. Periodisation
  • Switching up to a new training split (Full Body, Upper/Lower, Push/Pull/Legs)

  • Change exercise sequence and/or exercise selection in your training program

This allows the introduction of novel stimulus to your body to continue gaining lean muscle and shredding excess fat at the same time especially if you have been stagnant using the same routine for a while and not progressing well.

Execute the new routine consistently and focus on gradually getting stronger and progressively overloading it week after week.

Step3: Optimising Nutrient Timing

1. Protein distribution throughout the day

Distribute your daily protein intake evenly during the 3-4 meals to keep your protein synthesis levels elevated and optimised throughout the day. 

2. Before and After Workout Nutrition

Consuming adequate protein around our workout such as a post-workout protein shake allows the body to blunt the cortisol response and significantly increase protein synthesis as compared to not consuming or inadequate protein intake.   

Optimising nutrient timing will enable your muscles to recover and grow optimally despite being in a calorie deficit. 

Final Takeaways

As you implement these steps and progress throughout the weeks, take measurements to assess your results.

If your weight is more or less remaining the same, yet your waist circumference is decreasing, your muscle measurements are increasing, you are getting stronger in the gym, and you visually look better, then these are all signs that you are indeed successfully achieving a body recomposition for yourself.

So there you have it, it is possible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time! 

Implementing the above strategies can be an effective way for you to shortcut your transformation and take advantage of the current situation you are in. 

Subsequently, you can transition to a dedicated muscle building or fat loss period to prioritise one or the other depending on your own fitness and health goals! 

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Featured Contributor:


As a coach, Edwin’s mission is to optimise your health and performance so you can achieve the absolute best quality of life. 

He helps clients with sustainable and functional body transformation and specialises in body recomposition (fat loss/muscle gain), sports performance, as well as strength and conditioning.

He empowers skinny-fat professionals with evidence-based methods to gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously year-round!