What Is Body Recomposition
Why Body Recomposition Wins
Body recomposition, commonly referred to as ‘recomp’, is simply defined as the process of reducing body fat and simultaneously adding muscle mass at the same time.
We know – it sounds too good to be true… and a bit of a tall order. The reason why is pretty simple: on order for the body to successfully burn fat, you need to achieve a calorie deficit, whereas to build muscle you need a surplus of calories.
But while this can make the simultaneous goal of building muscle and burning fat a tricky one, it isn’t impossible.
Introducing Calorie Cycling
In short, calorie cycling is the process of alternating your intake of calories between high calorie days and low calorie days.
On days that you’re lifting weight, you eat maintenance calories – the number of calories required to maintain your current weight, while on those you’re not lifting, you reach a small calorie deficit – including days when you’re doing cardio. The key here is balance.
The Recovery Factor
One thing that’s really important to bear in mind here is recovery. In order for the body to build up new lean muscle mass, it needs enough calories to rebuild the muscle tissue that’s broken down when we work out. So large calorie deficits are a major no-no here.
Eating at maintenance levels, however, creates enough of a positive anabolic environment to trigger both muscle and strength gains. Deficit days, meanwhile, will help small but steady fat loss and ensure that you don’t overeat on the days you aren’t training. On these days you won’t need the excess calories, as you’re not undertaking as much exercise.
The other factor we need to address is recovery. For our bodies to adapt to a new stimulus and build new muscle they need enough calories to rebuild broken down muscle tissue. Hence, why recovery begins to suck when someone goes into a large caloric deficit.
Is Recomp Right For Me?
There’s one thing worth bearing in mind here – while this approach to body recomposition is very effective, you won’t see results overnight. If you’re expecting overnight fat loss and muscle mass, then you’re in the wrong place – cutting and bulking will likely be the best option for you.
But body recomposition can be great for others, including:
- People just starting out on their body sculpting journey
- Skinny fat people with little muscle but excess fat
- People looking for long-term, year-round leanness without endless buking and cutting cycles
- People looking to lose fat inside a bulking cycle
Devising A Recomp Diet
Knowing when you can and can’t eat more can make this diet easier to stick to, although there will always be other commitments that can make this tricky to stick to. But you need to be meticulous if you want your body recomp to be a success.
Here’s a quick rundown of the factors you need to take into account with your recomp program:
These are usually done one day per week, where by eating extra carbs you consume more calories to bring you back to maintenance levels. This also improves leptin levels, which ups the metabolism to assist fat loss. But as you’ll largely be at maintenance calorie level, you might not need these.
- Free meals
These work in a similar way to refeeds, but don’t only focus on carbs – you can enjoy whatever food you like. This can help both with cravings and make it easier when eating out. It’s only for one day of the week, mind, and best on a day when you’re training.
Speaking of training, your workouts should concentrate on gradual overload and big movements like chin-ups, squats and deadlifts. As you go up, whether in reps or weight, you’ll see muscle build.
We’re not going to get into an argument here – just include cardio in your recomp routine, okay? Regular cardio will help you hit your goals much faster, as well as all the other benefits you already know about. Focus on stuff like HIIT, tabata and kettlebells to keep things dynamic and ensure you stay motivated.
You should probably note that you might have to tweak things here as and when required – here’s a quick overview:
- If you’re putting on weight but don’t look any different, carry on and don’t change anything
- If you’re putting on weight and looking bigger but also softer, reduce your carb intake by 20–30 grams per day
- If you’re losing weight but looking tighter and leaner, again, don’t change anything
Make no mistake – body recomposition isn’t for the faint-hearted, and involved dedication and patience. But it sees great, transformative results for lots of people, feels less like a diet and has less intrusion on your day-to-day life than traditional cutting and bulking cycles. But results are gradual – so you’ve got to be in it to win it!