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The Basics of Body Recomposition

Basics of Body Recomposition | MyFitnessPal
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Your body weight doesn’t directly reflect your muscle mass or overall health. So, it shouldn’t solely decide your fitness goals.

Body recomposition encourages you to stop looking at the numbers on the scale and listen to your body’s needs. In doing so, you can learn how your body balances muscle with fat and how your habits contribute to it all.

What Is Body Recomposition?

Think of body recomposition as a deep dive into your body’s health. Instead of setting goals around how much you weigh, you aim to build muscle and shed fat by changing your habits and diet.

To do this, you’ll need to focus on your body’s composition — which covers lean muscle mass, body fat, and more. You can gauge this by studying your abdomen, skinfold, and stature.

Rather than set your sights on direct weight loss, body recomposition plans aim to help you eat healthier, build strength, and use your body’s existing resources.

This long-term process often incorporates additional practices, such as prioritizing high-protein meals with less fat.

Using a body recomp strategy to determine your diet and workout results may take some adjustment. But it’s generally better (and safer) than only measuring weight. This is because, by volume, muscle weighs more than fat

So, for example, you could shed 15 pounds of fat and build 15 pounds of muscle mass but see no difference on the scale. That’s body recomposition at work!

The body recomposition process explained

Body recomposition is a long-term process of turning fat into muscle — but this isn’t something you can half-commit to. You’ll need to focus on your nutrition, fitness plans, and other lifestyle choices.

Remember, every person’s body composition is unique. So, there’s no universal recomposition process. Some people aim for a toned physique, while others want a slim, muscular build. Whatever your goals are, body recomposition is all about healthily balancing your body mass.

Consider your own body and goals. Ask yourself what you’d like to get out of your new diet and fitness routine now — and then a year from now.

For instance, if you want to immediately bulk up your muscles, you might want to focus first on weight training and high-calorie meals. Then, you may rebalance your body with cardio-based workouts and calorie deficits.

Finding a healthy balance between fat reduction and muscle growth may take time. Your body will likely react to exercises and diets differently, so be ready to readjust your routine. For example, consider adding more calories and protein to your nutrition plan if you lose both fat and muscle weight.

Potential benefits of changing your body composition

Like any health journey, body recomposition has the potential to improve your life and health in countless ways. Some of the benefits of body recomposition include:

  • Mobility and strength: Healthy muscle gain improves your strength and physical capabilities. So, you’ll be less likely to “pull something” when lifting or moving quickly.
  • Improved metabolism: A higher muscle mass improves your metabolic rate As a result, you’ll naturally burn more calories throughout the day, even when doing nothing at all.
  • Lower risks of health concerns: A healthy body composition can reduce your risk of heart problems, diabetes, and other chronic health concerns. It can also improve your insulin sensitivityimmune system, and overall health.
  • Confidence: Using your body composition to determine your progress helps you identify easily overlooked results — such as an equal amount of burned fat and built muscle. Recognizing your success can boost your confidence and point you to your most beneficial workout regimes.

4 Tips To Help Guide Your Body Recomposition Journey

A healthy amount of muscle tissue requires a carefully planned diet and workout regimen. Check out our top strategies for your body recomposition journey, and as always, be sure to consult with your physician before starting any diet or exercise routine to ensure it is right for you.

1. High-protein diets promote muscle growth

How much protein you eat directly contributes to your muscle growth and how you maintain muscle mass. Some of the best recomp diets prioritize foods with high protein but low fat — especially after workouts. If you stay above the minimum recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein, you’re more likely to grow muscle rather than immediately burn all your calories.

Check out MyFitnessPal’s high-protein diet plan, or consider creating your own with the following foods:

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Salmon
  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Quinoa
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage cheese

2. Reducing caloric intake

Calories aren’t bad for you — they fuel your body. Of course, too much of a good thing can be harmful, so in some instances it may be helpful to cut back on your calories to lose fat and gain muscle through diet. Too few, and you may need to add more body recomp calories to effectively gain muscle.

Consider fitness and diet tools, such as MyFitnessPal, to track your personal calorie intake and body recomposition macros. These apps help you identify the best approach to your personal diet. For example, the macro calculator recommends your ideal calorie intake based on your age, height, weight, macro targets, and more.

3. Reducing body fat percentage with cardiovascular training

Aerobic and cardio exercises — anything that gets your heart rate going — can be some of the best body recomp workouts for cutting down fat. These exercises burn calories at a faster rate than traditional weight training.

Many fitness enthusiasts designate specific cardio days outside of their muscle-focused exercises. These cardio workouts burn through fat while giving their muscles a break. This process is essential for balancing your composition.

4. Including weight or resistance training in your routine

Weight and resistance training focuses on muscle gain and strength. Many body recomposition plans fluidly blend resistance and cardio-based exercises. Prioritizing both of these aspects can help you avoid losing or gaining too much weight at once.

As you go, you might identify specific weight training workouts, such as squats or power lifts, that meet your immediate goals. The MyFitnessPal app also recommends specialized workout routines, including full-body burn, fast fitness from home, and stretch and strengthening.

Find the Right Balance To Reach Your Fitness Goals

Balancing your diet and exercise goals can inform and motivate you when you’re just getting started. And, when in doubt, MyFitnessPal–the #1 nutrition and food tracking app—can help.

Originally published November 1, 2017. Updated March 22, 2024.

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