body recomposition diet

Body Recomposition Diet

Ever feel like you're stuck in a loop when it comes to changing your body composition? Or you're hitting the gym hard but not seeing the muscle gains you hoped for.

You're not alone.

Many people are bouncing between weight loss and muscle gain strategies without getting the results they want.

And let's be real, with all the conflicting diet advice floating around online, it's no wonder we're left scratching our heads, unsure how to reach our body goals.

Losing fat and gaining muscles at the same time sounds like a great idea, right? That's what body recomposition is all about.

You do it by eating smart and exercising right. If you know what you're doing, you can make it happen and end up with a healthier, leaner, and stronger body.

So we’ve made this complete guide to the body recomposition diet. We'll cut through the noise, bust some myths, and serve up some straight-up practical advice backed by science.

What is Body Recomposition?

Body recomposition refers to the process of simultaneously losing body fat and gaining muscle mass. The idea is to change the way your body looks by reducing fat and increasing muscle.

Fabio Comana, Faculty Instructor at the San Diego State University School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences explains, “When you are tackling the challenge of weight management … [body recomposition] should be a combination of two events happening simultaneously.

The goal is to lose that excess fat mass that you have, but at the same time you should be preserving—or even better, building some muscle mass.”

The idea behind body recomposition is to burn fat by consuming fewer calories and exercising, while also doing strength training that helps build muscle. This way, your body can use stored fat for energy and use protein to maintain and grow muscle.

Several physiological factors make body recomposition possible:

  • Energy balance: It's all about calories in versus calories out. To shed fat, you have to be in a calorie deficit. But the kicker is, you still need enough protein to support muscle growth. Striking the right balance is key to losing fat without sacrificing muscle.
  • Resistance training: Pumping iron isn't just for show. It stimulates muscle growth and tells your body to hang onto that lean mass, even when you're cutting calories.
  • Macronutrient intake: Protein is your best buddy here. Making sure you're getting enough protein in your diet helps prevent muscle breakdown, especially when you're in calorie-cutting mode.
  • Muscle memory: If you've got some prior experience with resistance training, your muscles remember. That means you can regain lost muscle more easily, even when you're slashing calories.
  • Beginner gains: If you are new to resistance training you are going to have an easier time putting on muscle while you shed fat than someone who has been resistance training for a long time. The new stimulus of resistance training will be a shock to your body causing it to build muscle even in a calorie deficit.

Now, why should you be interested in body recomposition? Here are some of its benefits that you should know:

  • Decreased body fat percentage and weight loss, leading to visible changes in body shape.
  • Increased muscle mass, definition, and strength. This boosts metabolism, athletic performance, and overall health.
  • An improved physique with a more toned, firm body. This stems from higher lean muscle mass and lower body fat.
  • Avoiding the “skinny fat” look of weight loss without exercise. Retaining muscle creates an athletic appearance.

The real question is, does body recomposition really work?

Recent studies are here to set the record straight. A 2015 study found that chowing down on 3.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day led to some serious improvements in body composition.

And get this, even without hitting the gym, you'll be able to see some changes. Another study in the Journal of Obesity proved that boosting protein intake and meal frequency can trim abdominal fat.

With the right diet and exercise combo, backed by solid science, body recomposition will help you achieve your goals and see real results in no time.

Macronutrients and Their Roles

Understanding the roles of protein, carbohydrates, and fats is crucial in optimizing your body's recomposition diet.

Each macronutrient has its own job to do, and getting the right balance is the key to getting the results you're after.


Protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle mass. So, if you're hitting the gym to build muscle, make sure you're consuming enough protein to fuel those muscles. The general recommendation is 0.8-1g of protein per pound of body weight.

So, for someone weighing 150 pounds, that's around 120 to 150 grams of protein each day. You can get your protein fix from foods like chicken, fish, eggs, dairy, beans, lentils, and soy products.

If you need an extra boost, toss some whey and cassein protein powder into the mix for good measure.


Carbohydrates provide energy for your workouts and daily activities. They're stored in your body as glycogen, mainly in your muscles and liver, and serve as a quick energy source for when you need a burst of activity.

Focus on nutrient-dense, unprocessed carb sources like fruits, starchy veggies, whole grains and legumes.

Then, aim to get about 1-3g of carbs per pound of body weight to keep that energy flowing.


Dietary fats provide essential fatty acids and help absorb fat-soluble vitamins.

They're also involved in hormone production and help keep you feeling full.

Avoid trans fats, but include healthy unsaturated fats like olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and oily fish. Shoot for 0.4-0.5g of fat per pound of body weight.

Calculating your ideal macronutrient intake will help you to plan balanced, satisfying meals to support your body recomposition goals.

As you go along, you can tweak things based on how you're doing and what your body tells you. It's all about finding what works best for you.

Meal Planning and Timing

Meal planning and timing are crucial elements of a successful body recomposition diet. Having a game plan for when and what to eat is key to hitting your macro and calorie targets every day.

Here are a few meal-planning strategies to keep in mind:

Use Macro Tracking

Counting macros like protein, carbs, and fats, gives you a clear picture of what you're eating and ensures you're hitting your nutritional targets.

Start by figuring out your ideal macros based on your specific goals, whether it's building muscle, losing fat, or maintaining weight.

Your activity level also plays a role here. Once you've got your macro targets, spread them out evenly across your meals throughout the day.

This approach helps ensure you're fueling your body optimally and supporting your body recomposition goals.

Time Meals Around Workouts

Properly fueling your workouts can make a world of difference in your performance and results. Aim to have a balanced meal containing both carbs and protein about 1-2 hours before you hit the gym.

Carbs provide the energy you need to power through your workout, while protein supports muscle repair and growth.

After your workout, your body is primed to absorb nutrients like a sponge, so it's essential to refuel with another carb-protein combo meal within 30-60 minutes post-exercise.

This helps replenish glycogen stores and kick-starts the muscle recovery process, setting you up for success.

Prepare Food in Advance

Meal prep is a game-changer when it comes to staying on track with your nutrition goals, especially during busy weeks.

Spend some time on the weekend cooking up large batches of protein sources like chicken breasts, lean beef, or tofu.

Portion them out into meal prep containers and add measured amounts of your favorite carb and fat sources, such as rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, or roasted veggies.

Having pre-prepared meals on hand makes it easy to stick to your nutrition plan, even when life gets hectic. Plus, it saves you time and ensures you always have healthy options ready to go when hunger strikes.

Follow a Meal Plan Template

Structuring meals and snacks at regular intervals creates consistency. Aim for 4-6 meals spread 3-4 hours apart.

Here is a sample meal plan template for someone who weighs an average of 150 lbs:

7 AM - Pre-workout meal

  • 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites scrambled with 1 cup of spinach and 1/4 cup of diced bell peppers
  • 1 slice of whole-grain toast
  • 1 small banana (120g)

Calories: 295 | Protein: 18g | Carbohydrates: 40g | Fat: 7g

10 AM - Post-workout meal

  • Protein shake made with 1 scoop (30g) of whey protein powder, 1 cup of almond milk, and 1/2 cup of mixed berries
  • 1 medium-sized apple (182g)

Calories: 290 | Protein: 27g | Carbohydrates: 39g | Fat: 5g

1 PM - Lunch

  • Grilled chicken breast (4 oz or 113g)
  • 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa or brown rice
  • 1 cup of steamed broccoli and carrots
  • Side salad with 2 cups of mixed greens, 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Calories: 430 | Protein: 34g | Carbohydrates: 42g | Fat: 14g

4 PM - Afternoon snack

  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon of sliced almonds and a drizzle of honey
  • Carrot sticks with 2 tablespoons of hummus

Calories: 250 | Protein: 20g | Carbohydrates: 30g | Fat: 9g

7 PM - Dinner

  • Baked salmon (4 oz or 113g) with lemon and herbs
  • 1 medium-sized roasted sweet potato (150g)
  • 1 cup of sautéed green beans with garlic
  • Mixed green salad with 1/4 avocado and 1 tablespoon of olive oil dressing

Calories: 540 | Protein: 30g | Carbohydrates: 44g | Fat: 27g

10 PM - Before bed snack:

  • 1/2 cup of cottage cheese with 1/2 cup of sliced strawberries
  • Handful (1/4 cup) of mixed nuts (almonds, walnuts, and cashews)

Calories: 315 | Protein: 22g | Carbohydrates: 19g | Fat: 20g

Total Daily Calories: 2,120

Total Daily Protein: 151g

Total Daily Carbohydrates: 214g

Total Daily Fat: 82g

Fill each meal and snack with a lean protein source, smart carbs, healthy fats, and veggies. Just tweak those portions to fit your macro goals.

Now, when it comes to meal planning, timing is everything. Match your eats to your training schedule to supercharge your body recomposition journey.

Preparation and timing are key to make sure you're set up for total success. It's all about those little details that add up to big wins!

The Role of Exercise in Body Recomposition

Exercise is a crucial part of any effective body recomposition plan.

By finding the right balance between resistance training and cardio, you can burn fat and while also building and maintaining muscle mass.

Resistance Training

Resistance training with weights is a must-have in your body recomposition toolkit. It's what sets the stage for muscle gain during the process.

When you lift weights, you give your muscles the mechanical tension and tiny tears they need to kickstart muscle protein synthesis and growth.

Shoot for hitting the weights 2-5 times a week, focusing on big moves like squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press, pull-ups, and rows.

Grab weights that challenge you in the 6-12 rep range, aiming for 3-5 sets per exercise.

And don't forget to give those muscles a breather. Allow at least 72 hours of rest between training the same muscle groups.

Here are a couple of sample body recomposition workout plans to get you started:

Workout A:

  • Barbell Squat: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Bench Press: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Lat Pulldown: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Shoulder Press: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Barbell Bicep Curl: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Workout B:

  • Deadlift: 3 sets of 5-6 reps
  • Incline Bench Press: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Seated Cable Row: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Lateral Raises: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Tricep Pushdowns: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Cardiovascular Exercises

While lifting heavy is key, adding some cardio can help burn extra calories and prevent fat gain.

Aim for 2-4 moderate cardio sessions per week for 20-30 minutes. Low-impact options like walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming are best.

High-intensity interval training can be useful too. Monitor your body and reduce cardio if it impedes strength or muscle gains.

Here are a couple of sample cardio workouts to complement your resistance training:

Cardio Workout A:

  • 20-minute brisk walk around the neighborhood
  • 10-minute cycling session on a stationary bike
  • 5-minute cool-down stretching routine

Cardio Workout B:

  • 15-minute jog on the treadmill
  • 15-minute swim laps at the pool
  • 5-minute relaxation with some yoga or deep breathing exercises

Remember to adjust the intensity and volume of both your resistance training and cardio workouts based on your individual goals, recovery capacity, and progress.

Keep pushing yourself, but also listen to what your body needs for optimal results.

Suggested Foods for a Body Recomposition Diet

A body recomposition diet should include a variety of nutrient-dense foods that support muscle growth and fat loss. Here are some of the best food options to include:

Lean Protein

  • Chicken breast
  • Turkey breast
  • Fish like salmon, tilapia, tuna, and cod
  • Lean cuts of beef and pork
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Edamame
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Greek yogurt
  • Whey protein powder

Lean protein sources like these are essential for building and maintaining muscle on a body recomposition plan. Aim for 0.5-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight daily.

Healthy Fats

  • Avocados
  • Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and pecans
  • Nut butters
  • Seeds like chia, flax, and hemp
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Full-fat dairy

Healthy fats support hormone production, heart health, and vitamin absorption. They are a key component of an effective body recomposition diet. Get 20-30% of daily calories from healthy fat sources.

Complex Carbs

  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Whole grain bread, pasta, rice, and cereals
  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes with skin
  • Legumes

Complex carbohydrates provide sustained energy for workouts and daily activity. Focus on unprocessed, high-fiber carb sources over refined options. Aim for the remainder of daily calories after protein and fat.


  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Milk
  • Cheese

Low-fat dairy products supply protein, calcium, and other nutrients. Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are especially high in protein.


  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Bananas
  • Kiwis
  • Melons
  • Pineapple
  • Mango

Fruits deliver antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Stick to whole fruits over fruit juice to get more satiating fiber.


  • Leafy greens like spinach, kale, lettuce
  • Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts
  • Peppers
  • Onions, mushrooms, tomatoes
  • Carrots, sweet potatoes
  • Zucchini, eggplant, cabbage

A vegetable-rich diet provides vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water to aid body recomp. Focus on low-calorie, nutrient-dense veggies to maximize nutrition.

Tracking Progress and Adjusting the Diet

Keeping track of your progress is essential for effective body recomposition. Here are a few key metrics you should monitor:

Body Fat Percentage

This gives you a precise measurement of your fat loss success. You can test this via skin fold calipers, special scales using bioelectrical impedance analysis, or hydrostatic weighing. Aim to lose around 0.5-1% body fat per week.

Muscle Mass

Gaining muscle is key, so use tape measurements of your biceps, thighs, chest, etc., to track growth. Have progress pictures taken every four weeks in the same clothes, poses, and lighting for visual progress.

Body Weight

Don't stress too much about the number on the scale—it can bounce around. Weigh yourself once a week at the same time for consistency.

Remember, progress isn't always linear, so stay patient and keep pushing forward.

Also don’t forget you are recomping so you will be adding weight in the form of muscle as you lose weight in the form of fat.

Making Adjustments

Based on your progress, be ready to make diet adjustments.

Not losing fat? Reduce carbs and overall calories slightly. Not gaining muscle? Increase protein intake and focus on progressive overload in workouts.

Feeling wiped out after hitting the gym? Adding a bit more carbs around your workout times could help with recovery.

And if your strength seems stuck in a rut, consider taking a break from your deficit and eating at maintenance calories for a bit.

Remember, adjusting your diet based on how your body responds is key to getting the results you want.

Keep checking in with yourself, and be ready to make changes as needed to keep moving towards your goals.

Realistic Expectations and Time Frames

Approaching body recomp with realistic expectations is key—it's not a quick fix, but rather a journey.

Progress takes time, so aim for gradual changes you can sustain rather than expecting overnight results.

Depending on where you start and how consistent you are, you can expect significant changes over several months to a year.

Remember, small steps add up, so celebrate every milestone along the way.

Having a support system can make a big difference in staying on track. Find someone—whether it's a spouse, friend, or even an online buddy—with similar goals to share the journey with.

Having someone to lean on for motivation and accountability can keep you going when things get tough.

Body recomposition is a slow process that requires consistency over months. Aim to lose 1-2 lbs of fat per week maximum and gain 1-2 lbs of muscle per month.

Remember, progress may not always be linear, but you're on the right track as long as you're moving forward. Stay patient, stay persistent, and you'll reach your body recomposition goals in due time.


How long does body recomposition take?

The timeframe for body recomposition varies substantially based on factors like your starting point, goals, nutrition plan, and workout routine.

Most experts say you might start noticing changes in about 12 to 16 weeks (2 to 3 months). That's when you'll see a mix of building muscle and losing fat happening at the same time.

But for some people, this can take longer, depending on your starting point.

Can you lose fat and gain muscle at the same time?

Losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time through body recomposition is totally possible. When you eat fewer calories than your body requires, it burns fat for energy.

At the same time, exercising with weights triggers muscle protein growth, allowing muscle gain even in a calorie deficit if you eat enough protein.

The key is to find the right balance. You must be in a slight calorie deficit to aid muscle growth while still creating an imbalance of calories for fat loss.

A daily deficit of 300-500 calories, along with heavy lifting, helps you gain muscle and lose fat.

How is body recomposition different from weight loss?

Weight loss focuses strictly on the numbers on the scale going down through calorie restriction. This often leads to a loss of fat mass and muscle mass.

Body recomposition, on the other hand, is all about changing your body composition.

This means losing fat while gaining or maintaining muscle mass through a combination of smart eating and targeted exercise.

You might not see a big difference on the scale, but your body fat percentage will go down while your muscle mass goes up, resulting in a leaner and stronger physique.

So, if you want to lose fat and build muscle, body recomp is the way to go.

Key Takeaway

Body recomposition is a great way to transform your body by losing fat while gaining lean muscle. By following the comprehensive guide provided here, you can implement strategies for achieving your physique goals.

This whole approach is backed by science, but it's not about some quick fix. It's about making real, lasting changes to your lifestyle.

Expect ups and downs along the journey, but stay consistent and patient with yourself.

Regularly track your progress, make necessary adjustments, and keep moving forward. Surround yourself with a support system to stay motivated.

Start incorporating these principles into your daily routine now, and you'll eventually see the results you want.

With time, you'll start seeing those changes you've been working towards—less fat, more muscle, and a body you're proud of.