Can I lose fat and build muscle at the same time?

If you are overweight and/or new to strength training, then it is possible to build muscle while losing fat, but a vast majority of people will need to do one or the other at a time. If you have been training effectively for a year or more, generally not: you're better off with a bulk/cut cycle. See Lyle McDonald's Adding Muscle While Losing Fat - Q&A

How fast can I lose fat without losing muscle?

There is a maximum amount of fat loss your body can endure, before it starts losing muscle. That amount is 31 calories/day/lb of fat (Note that the author revised this number from 31 to 22 cal an email exchange with Redditor, Chr0me).

Be aware, though, that this data comes from the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, and uses subjects under severe dietary restriction that did not strength train. This information should be taken with a grain of salt. See Lyle McDonald's take on this study for more.

How fast SHOULD I lose weight to minimize muscle loss?

The International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism recommends a weekly body-weight loss of 0.7% to increase muscle while losing fat, and a weekly body-weight loss of 1.0-1.4% to simply preserve muscle mass.

In real terms, 0.7% body-weight loss works out to a 7 calorie daily deficit per kg of total bodyweight (or a 3.2 calorie daily deficit per lb of total bodyweight), and the 1.0-1.4% range works out to a 10-14 calorie daily deficit per kg of total bodyweight (or a 4.5-6.4 calorie daily deficit per lb of total bodyweight)

How important is protein?

Proper protein consumption is important to almost anyone using this FAQ - it is beneficial while losing fat and while building muscle.

How many people should I tell about my goals?

"Substitution" is a well known psychological effect: when you announce your goals to people, you receive psychological satisfaction, and it makes it less likely you achieve them. See this thread. If you walk around telling friends "I'm going to lose 80 lbs", this makes it less likely you will lose it. If you must tell them something, tell them what you've already done: "I have lost 10 lbs" but don't talk about your goal (although you should certainly have one).

How does this help me get a six pack?

As with every other goal here, having defined abs is a matter of having enough muscle mass and low enough body fat. Generally the hardest part of getting a six pack is losing enough body fat to make the bottom portions of the abs show well enough. Just remember: you lose 3lbs of fat the exact same way you lose 30lbs.

Should I bulk or cut?

For some the answer is obvious - if you are underweight and want to put on muscle, you should eat at a caloric surplus (bulk); if you are overweight and want to lose fat, you should eat at a caloric deficit (cut). But for those beginners who are neither under- nor over-weight, the so-called "skinnyfat", the choice between whether to cut or bulk is a bit more difficult.

You can choose to "cut" in order to reduce overall body fat percentage, but this will be slow going and will postpone your ability to gain appreciable muscle mass. You can "bulk", eating well over your maintenance calories in order to maximize muscular gains, but at the same time gain additional unwanted fat.

Ultimately, there is no right answer for this question. You need to choose one goal at a time. Whatever you choose to start with, be it cutting or bulking, all that matters is that you start doing something.

Did I hurt myself or is this normal soreness?

It's probably DOMS if the pain..

  • Started 24-48 hours after your workout
  • Feels more like overall soreness in a particular muscle
  • Decreases over the course of a few days

See your doctor if the pain...

  • Started in the middle of your workout
  • Is sharp and localized
  • Has not gone away after 4 days after your workout.