I can’t believe how often people try to find answers to this question and how there is no info on how long it takes for someone, who trains to see results.
I will do my best to give you some answers, but first we have to make an important distinction
– Are you trying to build muscle mass and you want to know how long it takes
– Are you trying to lose fat and want to know how long before you see your dream body in the mirror?
If you are on a quest to build more muscle, feel free to use my theory for the most you can add in one day. From there you can easily determine how long before you put on the 10, 20 or whatever number of pounds it might be.
Here it goes. You know that in order to gain muscle you have to eat more protein than your body uses up and excretes. This is called a positive nitrogen balance. It is known that 1 gram of protein per pound of lean muscle mass is what you need to be in a neutral nitrogen balance, meaning as much goes in, as much goes out.
My ideal number of protein surplus is about 1.35 grams, meaning you have to eat about that much grams of protein per pound lean muscle mass a day, in order to be in a positive nitrogen balance.
So, for example, if you weight 200 LB at 10% body fat that means that your lean body mass is 180 LB (200 x 0.9). Multiply your lean body mass by 1.35 and you will get your desired protein intake. In our case it’s 243 gr a day. If you remember from above just to maintain your muscles you need 1 gram of protein a day, so that is 180 grams.
Here is where it gets interesting. If you subtract the smaller number from the bigger, you will get exactly the amount of protein you have to eat in surplus just to be in a state that predisposes to muscle growth. In our study that is exactly 63 grams.
So, in theory you could grow with 63 grams a day or with almost a pound a week. In reality you never use up all these amino acids from the extra 63 grams of protein to build muscle. You use some of them for energy, you use some of them to offset the catabolic processes in the body.
But, on the other hand when you build new muscle, it’s not only due to protein increase, but also due to glycogen (carbs) storage, water, etc.
I would expect that, if all other conditions are right, a half of these 63 grams will be turned into new muscle each day. So, I’d say aim for not more than a half a pound a week or at most two pounds a month.
Enough about what to expect when building muscle. What should you expect when on a quest for fat loss?
That’s somewhat easier. You know that in order to lose fat you should eat about 20% less calories than what you burn during the day (workout and cardio included).
We know that if you are careful to be 20% calorie deficient, you will be effectively losing about 0.5% body fat each week.
So, again, if you are 200 LB at 0.5% fat loss a week, you will be losing about 1 pound each week. If your goal is to lose 20 LBÂ that means it’s going to take you roughly two and a half months.
I hope that now you have a better understanding about what to expect before you embark on a mission – either muscle gain or fat loss. Just replace the numbers from our examples above with your numbers.
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