Many people are having hard time determining their primary fitness goal and that’s normal. Wondering whether to go for losing extra fat and having a lean body or to start gaining muscle and add several kilograms to your weight? It may seem like an easy decision to make, but still – many of my clients and people I know are finding it hard to determine their goal. Very often this is a result of the lack of knowledge, which prevents the person from making an educated decision about their fitness ambitions simply because of confusion and unclear ideas about how muscle gain and fat loss actually work.

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Most of the time people tell me they want to gain muscle mass and lose fat at the same time. While this is the ultimate goal of the majority of people, it cannot happen at the same time simply because each of these two processes requires either a caloric deficit or a caloric surplus. You are either eating less or eating more, there is no conformity between the two phases.

When you are trying to decide what your future goal will be, have the following points in mind: if your body fat percentage is over 20%, then fat loss is definitely the preferred option, since with such high percentage of BF% the probability of getting even fatter is imminent because of the decreased insulin sensitivity.  Another indicator of why fat loss might be a preferred option is the presence of chronic diseases or the over consumption of sugary products. In such situations fat loss diets are recommended in order to balance the endocrine levels in the body and improve overall health. I also recommend fat loss as a primary goal for people over the age of 40. Let’s not forget that fat loss is also the best option for bodybuilders who are preparing for a fitness competition and need to get in top condition.

When we are talking about young people under the age of 20, then muscle gain is usually the recommended goal, since most of the adolescents need to gain muscle mass. On top of that, their metabolism is very active and the caloric surplus is easily digested and utilized compared to someone who is older where the situation is different. People who have below 10% body fat may also benefit from a muscle gain diet plan, since their carbohydrate utilization capacity is very high and is much easier to gain clean muscle mass with little caloric surplus. Another group of people who may benefit from a muscle gain phase are those who want to gain muscle mass in the offseason in order to be able to compete at a competition afterwards. I always advise people who have less than an year of experience to start with muscle gain in order to build some muscle mass. The more muscle you have – the more calories the body burns at rest. Which means the more muscle mass you have – the easier it is to lose fat.

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