How to Build Lean Muscle While Decreasing Body Fat: Tips for Exercise, Diet & Supplements

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Written By: Jonathan Shoop

Hello everyone! It has been far too long since I wrote last. Let me start by saying I hope everyone who reads this is doing well and is enjoying life! I am not an medical doctor, please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise or supplement routine.

Today I want to write about the topic of building muscle mass without gaining fat. If you follow my directions and are diligent about exercising, diet, and supplementation then you should actually be building lean muscle and DECREASING body fat! Yes I said it. Build muscle AND lose fat at the same time. Now I know what some or most of you have heard… that it is impossible to do that without using anabolic steroids. Or that to gain muscle you must go into a “gaining phase” and that will likely include gaining fat. Well I’m here to tell you that those ideas are simply untrue.

Let’s start with exercise. Resistance training is CRUCIAL to gaining muscle tissue. Whether it be lifting weights, Melissa’s at home workouts, circuit training, or other bodyweight exercises. Putting strain on your muscles everyday is what’s going to be what causes microfiber tears on your muscle tissue. These microfiber tears are what we will then go back and repair using proper diet and supplementation, resulting in… muscle growth!

yoga with weights

My suggestion for someone who lifts weights is to lift 4-6 times a week for no less than an hour at a time. You need to push yourself everyday and keep track of how much you are lifting to help keep the progress going in the following months/years. I would then also throw in a 2-3 high intensity cardio workouts (no longer than 30 minutes) after lifting or on your “off day”. Melissa has a variety of workouts for you to do on this site so I will leave it to you to find the ones you like.

If you are doing Melissa’s workouts, you can stick to one or two a day but I would really push you to shoot for 45-60 minutes.

Now comes nutrition and supplementation. First of all and most importantly, you need to be keeping track of the amount of calories that you eat throughout the day and the amount of calories you burn. This is absolutely CRITICAL to obtain the best and quickest results. Melissa and I actually met through our use of the website – this is a great resource for logging what you eat throughout the day as well as inputting your exercise.


If you are overweight and needing to lean up, set the setting of how active you are throughout the day one notch lower than what it would suggest for you. If you are trying to gain muscle and have trouble doing so, go with what they suggest. This is the amount of calories you burn normally in a 24 hour period with no exercise. When you exercise, try using a heart rate monitor or something else that keeps track of your activity/calories you burn. You need to add those calories back into your daily amount, this will give you more to eat, but you need them to build that muscle!

In terms of calories, I would suggest starting with what suggests for your overall calorie intake and then adding your exercise calories. Do this for 2 weeks and monitor your weight during that time period. What we are looking for is a baseline number for your calories. If you’ve lost or gained weight during that time period and being diligent with keeping track and being on point with your consumption and expenditure of calories, you should adjust it from there depending on the gain or loss. If your weight has stayed the same during that 2 weeks then that is perfect. That is your maintenance calories (the amount of calories your body needs to maintain weight). Our goal is to gain muscle, for this I would add 250 calories into your daily consumption on top of your maintenance amount. If the weight isn’t coming on after 2-4 weeks of doing this, keep increasing your calories incrementally every 2-4 weeks. Gaining muscle takes time and patience. Keep at it and keep pushing yourself and expectations in your workouts!


The supplementation side of it is what is going to help you maximize your efforts! Think about it this way, with a car, you can get from point A to point B. The difference is how quickly you can get there and your gas mileage. You want to get there fast and you want to get there efficiently. This is the whole point of sports nutrition supplements. They will help you get there faster and with greater efficiency.

There is a plethora of information and products to take on the market. I have been a consultant for various nutrition stores throughout my years of working out and have chosen to carry specific products from specific companies because of their quality and results.

Here is a quick rundown of what I take/recommend for someone who works out 3+ times a week for 30-90 minutes.

*Note from Melissa: Be sure to check any supplementation program with your doctor. Each individual has different needs and tolerances. It is important to customize your program. If you have questions, ask a professional and be honest about your health history.*

Before a workout:

60-90 minutes before workout: Depending on size of the person: A meal consisting of 2 eggs and about 20-30 grams of carbohydrates such as fruit or oatmeal. If you do not have time because of work or waking up so early, that is OK but I would suggest then a quick protein shake of whey isolate or egg white protein.

15-30 minutes before workout:

  • Thermogenic, fat burner, or preworkout drink – something that will get you going and help you crank out that workout. Be careful with your own tolerance to stimulants and do not combine them unless you have done it before.
  • Along with any of those stimulants take 10 grams of branch chained amino acids. (BCAAs for short, they consist of Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine). This helps protect your muscle tissue from being used as energy, helps with recovery, and helps fight fatigue during the workout. I like BCAA Fuel.

After the workout:

  • Take 20-50 grams of protein from egg whites (my favorite is Muscle Egg flavored egg whites) or a whey isolate protein (Isolate Fuel or Iso Fuel Naturals) – again, the amount is dependant upon the weight and dietary needs of the individual.
  • Glutamine complex 6-10 grams – my favorite is Glutaplex. This helps speed up the repair of muscle tissue which helps with growth and also cuts down soreness.
  • Depending on dietary needs you can also take 20-40 grams of carbohydrates such as berries, oatmeal, or a powdered carbohydrate like Carbalean by Nutracore.

Everyday essentials:

  • Liquid or powdered form complete multi-vitamin. Don’t waste time or money on hard tablet form multi-vitamins as these are hard to digest, may upset your stomach, and your body only absorbs about 10% of a hard tablet multi-vitamin.
  • Essential fatty acids, EFAs, fish oils, or krill oil. Essential fatty acids are the best thing for your heart health. EFAs help lower blood pressure, raise good HDL cholesterol, and lower bad LDL cholesterol.
  • CLA – conjugated linoleic acid, from safflower oil. This is a fatty acid that helps your body to burn white adipose tissue. White adipose tissue is the fat around our midsections. I get mine from Pure Life Nutra because it is composed of only safflower oil, resulting in high purity and concentration. (
  • L-carnitine – this helps speed up your body’s ability to burn fat. I get mine from Pure Life Nutra because of it’s purity.


If you have any questions or would like help choosing a supplement regiment, feel free to email me at:
Thanks and I hope you make those gains!!!


Jon Shoop

You can read more about Jon and his background in Nutrition, Health, Fitness and Competition Training at:
If you would like to place an order or get more information please message him at: 
You can follow Jon on Instagram and twitter at: @jonshoop

10 thoughts on “How to Build Lean Muscle While Decreasing Body Fat: Tips for Exercise, Diet & Supplements

  1. Thanks for the info Jon. I have always been active and enjoy exercise and consider myself to be a healthy eater, but now that I am 42 I am feeling like my results are not the same and have been a bit bummed about it. I have never used supplements or protein shakes, so I am thinking that with age that might be the missing thing for me as I have read that women lose muscle as they age. Do you have any recommendations for the scenario of active and consistent exercising woman of 42? Do hormones come into play here? I appreciate any input you may have.

      • Adelle

        I’m also interesting in your response to Claudia’s question. I’m a 44 year old female facing some of the same issues. Just like Claudia I have never taken supplements before. Would you mind posting a general response here outside of your email communication with her? Thanks!

        • Kathleen Baggio

          Me too 45 with stubborn belly fat – vegetarian, workout 6-7 days a week varying workouts 30-60 min to keep the body active and moving in different ways – want to build muscle and lose some belly fat. Thanks

  2. Jenny Niemann

    Thank you so much for the great article and information. My question is about L-Carnitine. How much and when should I be taking it? I’ve read on an empty stomach first thing in the morning and also read to take after a workout with carbs. Should I be doing both? What type of carbs are best? I usually just take my protein powder right after my workout. Thanks so much for your help!

    • Hi Jenny,

      In my opinion, L-carnitine is much like CLA in which there is never a bad time to take it. But to answer your question the best times are going to be first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, before a workout, after a workout, and one other time closer to the end of your day. I have one at that has a bit of B-vitamins in it so I don’t recommend taking that too close to bedtime since B-vitamins will give you a little bit of energy.

      Hope that helps!

      – Jon Shoop

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