Is a body recomposition reasonable for most people?

written by Philip Stefanov  |  MARCH 21, 2023

Losing fat and building muscle simultaneously is nothing new. The process, better known as body recomposition (or body recomp for short), is often the goal of trainees looking to see some quick results, especially after taking an extended break from the gym.

I’ve written about the process several times, and I firmly believe it can work for certain people. But is a body recomposition reasonable for most people?

Let’s discuss.

What Is a Body Recomposition?

A body recomposition, also known as a body recomp or simply a recomp, is the process of building muscle and losing fat simultaneously. 

Is a Recomp Even Possible?

A body recomposition is possible because the two processes are regulated relatively independently. There are many anecdotal reports of people pulling off a successful recomp and more than a few studies suggesting the process to be possible, even in more advanced trainees.

For example, in one paper, researchers took eight elite gymnasts and put them on a 2,000-calorie ketogenic diet (1). As a result, the participants were in a mild calorie deficit for a month. Additionally, all the subjects completed 30 hours of training per week.

At the end of the experiment, the average body fat percentage had dropped from 8 to around 5.5 percent. Interestingly, their lean tissue had increased by 0.9 lbs, and they maintained their performance.

Of course, that study isn’t relevant to everyday people because most folks can’t do 17 chest-to-bar pull-ups and don’t train for 30 hours per week. It simply illustrates that recomping is possible.

Other research also suggests that recomping is possible, even in people with previous training experience and those with a lower body fat percentage (2). However, it’s worth noting that most people doing a recomp won’t be able to maximize their muscle growth or fat loss rate.

Who Is a Realistic Candidate For a Body Recomposition?

Though it sounds great, a recomposition isn’t ideal or reasonable for everyone. Certain people would be better off doing structured gaining (bulking) and fat loss (cutting) phases, slowly improving their body composition.

With that said, here are the categories of people who can leverage a recomp:

  1. Overweight and skinny fat people with low muscular development
  2. People returning to the gym after a long break
  3. Folks taking performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs)

Of course, the above doesn’t mean everyone in these categories can build muscle and lose fat simultaneously. Doing that successfully requires:

  • A good hypertrophy training plan
  • A minor calorie deficit that results in gradual fat loss
  • A high protein diet (at least 0.7-0.8 grams per pound of body weight)
  • Sleeping at least 7+ hours per night is also likely crucial

Who Would Be Better Off With Traditional Bulking/Cutting Cycles?

Anyone who isn’t a complete beginner (overweight or skinny fat), hasn’t taken an extended break from training, or isn’t taking steroids is likely not a good candidate for a body recomposition. If you suspect a body recomposition won’t work well, you’re probably right.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to determine if a recomp is possible for you:

  1. Do you carry a lot of fat and have low muscular development (relatively weak, no pronounced muscles, lack of vascularity, etc.)?
  2. Have you taken an extended break from the gym recently and lost a significant amount of muscle and strength?
  3. Even if you are a good fit for a recomp, are you ready to track your training and nutrition meticulously? Would you be okay not losing fat or building muscle at an optimal rate?

Most people like the idea of a body recomposition, and why shouldn’t they? It doesn’t get any better than losing fat and building muscle at the same time.

Unfortunately, the process is often frustrating, and trainees need to show a lot of patience to see good results.

Thank you for taking the time. Until next week,


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