Body recomposition: myth or reality?

Let’s start by saying that this approach mixes nutrition, lifestyle, and exercise. It may sound like CSI or an autopsy certificate but it is not.

As the name suggests, however, it is about “recomposing” one’s body. Not obviously in the arrangement of internal organs and limbs but in the proportions of muscle tissue and fat mass. In fact, what is normally meant by talking about a “toned body”-as trainer Amanda Capritto, who has written a very interesting article for CNET on the subject, writes-is the goal one wants to achieve with an integrated approach that aims to decrease fat mass and increase lean mass. But let’s take a step back first.

Fat mass and lean mass

The first, as can easily be guessed, consists of all body fat, among which is counted not only the storage fat that we so hate (which, in certain proportions, is instead of great importance) but also the physiological fat that, for example, protects by enveloping the internal organs. Lean mass, contrary to popular belief, is not only muscle mass but also mass composed of internal organs, joints, bones, teeth, etc., in other words, everything that is not fat.

Body recomposition is thus an approach that aims to balance the proportions of fat and lean mass. It aims, in other words, to change a composition with which we are most familiar, which is precisely body composition, which considers the percentage of fat and lean mass.

Body weight has a relative weight

The most immediate-and I add “unfortunately”-relationship with our body is its weight. It is that number we read on the scale when we weigh ourselves. With this beloved or hated number we associate a state of well-being (when it is close to or coincides with what we feel or know to be our fitness weight) or of discomfort, both physical and psychophysical, when it deviates greatly from it, especially in excess. In fact, let us never forget that not being at a fit weight-no matter how little this expression, as we will understand in a moment, means-makes sense both in negative and positive values, meaning that one can also be more or less underweight and experience this condition with discomfort.

In short, body recomposition has nothing to do with weight in absolute value; rather, it is often, as mentioned, aimed at varying the balance between the parts to achieve a more toned body, without necessarily varying body weight. Body recomposition, in other words, has nothing to do with weight loss but with the decrease in fat, which can be balanced or even exceeded by the increase in muscle mass (and thus weight).

How body recomposition works

Working with diet and exercise, it is not simply a matter of diet or a particular type of exercise. In many ways-which is why we find it to be an interesting approach because it is much more integrated and articulated than those that address only one of the possible fronts, be it nutrition or physical activity-it is an attitude that takes into account how you eat and what kind of exercise you do.

There are no specific programs but we can get help from guidelines .

  1. Practicing cardio to lose weight
  2. Weights to build muscle
  3. Control in calorie reduction to lose weight
  4. Increased protein intake to rebuild muscles or allow new tissue formation.

The last two points might confuse you: on the one hand they say to decrease calorie intake to lose fat and on the other hand to increase protein intake? It’s still about calories, even if it’s from protein sources, right? Sure, but with the purpose of contributing to the reconstruction or formation of new muscles. As mentioned elsewhere, not all calories are equal.

The first point, on the other hand, should be familiar to you: the main workout for developing and keeping the cardiovascular system efficient is running itself, as well as being one of the most effective ways to lose weight.

But we said that the purpose of body recomposition is not just to lose weight; on the contrary, the purpose is to achieve a more toned body. Here is where the second point, based on the work of gaining muscle mass, aims precisely to replace the fat mass lost by restricting caloric intake (point 3) with lean mass–particularly muscle mass–also gained from the protein intake mentioned in point 4. Each of these four guidelines is, in short, dependent on the other and only in this formation can they function and yield results.

What if you don’t feel like doing weights?

Or, more simply, if you are not interested in increasing muscle mass? The last aspect of this approach-to elaborate on which I refer you to the article cited earlier-is the most interesting, and that is the attitude it teaches. In short, you can decide that you are only interested in losing fat mass or containing your daily caloric intake. The important thing is to understand that the best way to achieve results is through an integrated approach that considers both nutrition and exercise (and, of course, rest and recovery).

Once you have established your daily caloric needs net of exercise, you can use the value as a reference to determine what kind of work to do depending on your goal. Since in fact that value is the number of calories you burn on a daily basis without exercising, it follows that if you take them in and in the same day you run, you will burn more calories than you took in, thus losing weight. Conversely, if you want to increase muscle mass, you will need to take more on that given day, but focusing more on protein than anything else. Finally, when you are resting and not exercising at all, you need to take in fewer calories than your daily requirement, so that you are slightly in deficit.

Ultimately and as we often say, it’s about being aware of what we eat and what kind of exercise we do. However, there is no awareness without knowledge, and understanding how many calories you need and especially what kind, together with the type of exercise you need to do depending on the result you want to achieve, is the basis for recomposing-or reshaping-your body composition. And to live in it better and better.

(Main image credits: Gorodenkoff on


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