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How to Gain Weight, Lose Fat and Build Muscle

I'm 54, 5'11'' and 170lbs. I'm vegetarian. No dairy but I do eat eggs. I'm in decent shape, done weight training on and off since high school. I'd estimate by my slightly showing abs that I probably have about 17-20% body fat. I'd like to put on about 10-15 pounds of muscle and get down to a lean 10-12% bodyfat.

I weight train about 5 days a week for about 30-45 min and do 30 min of zone 2 cardio those same 5 days.

Cronometer tells me in order to gain 1 pound a week, my calories should be around 2938 with the exercise and 2785 without. I guess the target becomes higher when you add exercise?

I'm not sure why the protein targets change daily because my weight has stayed between 168 and 170 for the last 3 months. I have not been consistently hitting my protein goals. Many days I do. Some days I'm at the 2/3 mark. It's a lot of work to eat 170-180 grams of protein on a primarily plant based diet. I'm doing protein powder shakes with raw eggs. Tempeh, seitan, legumes.

I notice that my weight starts to climb if I eat over 3000 calories/ day. It climbs slowly. However I find it hard to eat that many calories in a day. It's work.

That's the background. They say to gain weight/ muscle you need a calorie surplus. However, I am finding it hard to gain muscle/weight and lose belly fat. If I wanted to lose weight, I could do it easily. Seems when I skip a meal or two, I immediately drop weight. My problem is keeping the weight on as I get older. I've seen my father who has the same metabolism as me, wither away from 170lbs to 135-140 as he aged.

I am looking for some guidance on my diet with the aim of gaining muscle and increasing body fat at the same time.

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    edited May 5

    I have the same goals as you: to gain muscle and lose fat. I do the same things: diet, weight training, and cardio. According to Cronometer, my calorie intake to break even is about the same as yours, 2,800 without exercise. I'm not vegetarian, but I can't take supplements and need to limit my fat intake for ongoing medical reasons.

    Cronometer has macronutrient targets for things like metabolism support and Men's Health, but it would be great to have one for Muscle Building and Fat Loss combined. I've been trying to figure out what that might look like regarding diet. My smartwatch tells me of the last 20 pounds I've lost: 7 lbs was skeletal muscle mass, and 13 pounds was fat.

    Reading your post and writing this comment in response helped me clarify my goals. It might be time for a new web search specifically for a diet and exercise plan for building muscle and burning fat. I was not that specific before.

    I added Metabolism Support to my tracker, which might be helpful for dietary targets. According to the Cronometer info blurb, these nutrients also convert food into the building blocks needed to grow and maintain tissues in your body.

    Editing this comment to add the following:
    According to this expert, you can't build muscle and get lean at the same time. So the question for me becomes what does the leaning diet look like to lose fat without losing muscle?
    https://forums.cronometer.com/discussion/comment/2889#Comment_2889

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