Can You Build Muscle Under A Caloric Deficit?

Can You Build Muscle Under A Caloric Deficit?

Some people think that building muscle under a caloric deficit may be impossible, but that’s not entirely true. There was a study released before about a group of overweight men who were able to gain 9.5lbs of muscle while losing 16.3lbs of fat in a span of 14 weeks. Now that’s a result that a lot of people would want, but not a lot people could get. If you’re a little skeptical about these numbers, we’re here with an explanation.

Body type

That huge gain in muscle and huge drop in fat can be attributed to a whole lot of factors. First, they were initially overweight. People with a lot of fat in their body tend to have an insulin resistance of their own. This is their own body trying to stop it from getting any bigger than they already are. This means that they have an easier time getting that weight down as compared to an average person just starting.

Second is that they were total beginners. Many people would agree that beginners have an easier time gaining muscle mass, because they start from the bottom. This is very true since the most muscle gain you’ll ever have is during your first few months of training. This means that this group of men are at the prime point of losing a lot of weight while putting on a lot of muscle.

Meal plan and diet

If you’re planning to build muscle during a low-calorie diet, it might be harder than you think. This is due to the fact that you’re not eating that much to get the energy you need. But a little change in what you eat can get you a little progress.

Simply changing some of the components of your diet around can greatly affect how much muscle your body can build. An increase in protein in your low-calorie diet can have a huge impact on your muscle gain. You can try getting around 1.6g of protein daily and you’ll still get good results. Having a 3-egg omelet can give you around 21g of protein, which is relatively high if you want to build some mass.

You can add numerous things to your diet that are low in calories, such as meat, fish, eggs, beans, and tofu. Other alternatives would be whey protein and other protein substitutes.

Try to avoid taking in any alcohol and drugs as they can cause stress in your body. If your body is stressed, it will have a hard time building muscle mass. Overuse of these substances can cause your muscle-building hormones to slow down, bringing problems to your progress.

Training routine

Having a simple routine won’t do you any good. You need to have a specialized exercise plan to see any result. Your body’s natural reaction would be to sacrifice muscle while losing weight. That’s why you need to exercise to show your body which muscles are important to keep. You can opt for high intensity workouts to gain the best results. These exercises include bent-over rows, squats, bench presses, deadlifts and shoulder presses. You can do this for around 3 to 4 sets at 8 to 12 repetitions each.

High frequency and high volume exercises help in building good muscle while providing a huge boost in cardio. This means you can lose weight while getting your bulk without having to sacrifice one over the other. For beginners, this can take a toll on your body. So try to do as much as you can first before increasing your volume.

Other things to note

While it’s entirely possible to build muscle under a caloric deficit, it’s not something everyone can do. You need to have a very specific body structure and circumstance to achieve this. Overweight beginners are the only ones who are able to achieve this, but only through their first months of training. After losing a few pounds, they’ll slowly start to follow the usual muscle building trend.

The study that was mentioned above is a little flawed with their results. They used an average to see the total weight loss and muscle gain of a set amount of people. That’s why we’re advising you to check this from a realistic point of view. People gain muscle at a different pace. Some might have it fast and some might have it slow. If one of the people in that study gained 12lbs of muscle in 14 weeks and another just got 2lbs of muscle growth, then they only got an average of 7lbs of muscle gain.

This proves that the results are totally arbitrary and can’t be proven to be effective for everyone. We can further note this with each and every one’s specific insulin resistance. If person A has better resistance than person B, then person A might be able to lose weight faster than person B. That also includes people who are naturally able to gain more muscle than others. It’s a very broad assumption to take.


Weight loss is very important for overweight people, and one of the few ways to lose weight quick is through a low calorie diet. This means lowering the intake of food so your body burns more of your fat for energy. While losing weight using this method, your muscle mass will also take a hit. That’s why you should always include exercise when trying to lose a large amount of weight.

If a beginner starts to work out to build muscle, then he or she will see a quick gain during their first couple of months. This is due to the fact that their bodies are only starting to grow, and it’s always a huge growth at the beginning. After a time, this process slows down, and muscle growth can seemingly stop.

The only possible way for a person to lose weight AND gain muscle is for a person to be overweight and be a beginner or a person who stopped weight training for a long time. Though it is possible to do, it’s really not for everyone.