Are you afraid of fat gain?
I’m going to start by telling you a story that might sound familiar.
You’ve been dieting for awhile, lost some weight, and now you’ve decided you want to add some muscle. Food is up, you’ve been feeling good and feeling stronger, and weight has been stable.
One morning you step on the scale, look down, and the scale is up .5kg (1lb).
At first you think, it’s ok, I’m trying to gain muscle. Before you know it though, your mind is spiraling. Half a kilo in one day? Can you build muscle that fast? Surely some of that has to be fat?
The rational voice in your head tells you that it is just one day and deep down you know weight fluctuates day to day.
You decide to wait and see what your weekly average looks like. It’s your worst nightmare.
Last week’s average (Week 1): 70kg
This week’s average (Week 2): 71kg
The panic sets in and the rational voice is gone. Internally you are freaking out. One whole kilo in one week?!?! There is no way that’s muscle! It’s definitely fat.
You rush to the mirror, trying to see how you look. Since naturally you are your own worse critic, you decide that you look worse than you did last week.
Staring in the mirror, you completely ignore that you’ve been feeling stronger and that because carb intake is higher, you are holding onto more glycogen and therefore more water.
The desire to restrict takes over. Instantly you decide to cut back on calories. Better stop that fat gain train before it gets too out of control.
The following week (Week 3) you check your weekly average weight. Still 71kg.
You aren’t sure if you are happy or disappointed. Deep down, you know that you want to put on mass but you REALLY REALLY REALLY don’t want to put on fat.
You decide you want to keep calories the same to avoid weight creeping up again.
The next week (Week 4), your average is 70kg.
Inside you are jumping for joy because you see the scale back down. But wait a second, you stop and think. You’re supposed to be gaining muscle, which means gaining weight and therefore seeing the scale go up.
You think, maybe your metabolism has finally caught up and you put your calories back up.
By week 5 your average weight is 70.2kg. You think to yourself that this is more reasonable weight gain. The following week (Week 6) your weight has stayed stable.
In 6 weeks time, you’ve gained .2kg, that’s it. That’s nothing. You know what weighs 200g? That chicken you ate for dinner last night, some extra water you drank, a good poop in the morning weighs 200g.
But the real question is, how much did you stress yourself out during that time? I bet the answer is A LOT.
Checking the scale every single week, wondering what to do about calories. Should you increase them, decrease them, keep them the same?
All of that stress for a measly 200g weight gain which, let’s be real, is a normal fluctuation that you might see day to day anyway.
And going about muscle gain this way is painfully slow. Decreasing calories every time you see the scale go up means you are interrupting your body’s muscle building processes.
You have to be in a caloric surplus in order to see muscle growth. That is the bottom line. There isn’t some magic sauce out there that allows you to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time unless you are a completely new to the gym.
Putting on muscle means seeing the scale go up, and yes it means some fat gain. It doesn’t mean that you are going to put on tons of body fat but some fat gain is inevitable.
At this point you need to think about your long term goals. If you want to add muscle and change your body composition, you can’t try to stay lean all the time. It just doesn’t work that way. Stop fixating on the day to day fluctuations and think about the progress you are making over time. Look at things more objectively. How do your clothes fit? What are girth measurements like? How do you look in your progress photos compared to a few weeks ago?
Keep in mind losing fat is much much easier and takes a lot less time than building muscle.
If you have questions, you can join my Facebook community (where I do LIVE trainings) or follow me on Instagram and I will respond asap. Or if you are after some more guidance, you can download my free guide.