Originally Posted by Myriad
Currently I'm running a 500-600 calorie deficit, trying to lose extra fat. I've been watching my macros, but I'm new to this whole thing. I've been lifting and cardio about 5 days a week, but what I'm picking up from this thread is that I can't gain muscle if I'm running a deficit, even if I'm lifting and doing cardio? Is it a situation where you can pick up strength but not mass? I've been uping my bench, but according to this thread there's no way I can be getting stronger if I am running a deficit?
Strength does not always mean more mass. You can get stronger and not gain any mass, just like you can sometimes gain mass and not really gain any strength. There's a lot more at play than just muscle growth when it comes to real strength gains or even perceived strength gains.
Unless you're an overweight beginner or you're taking drugs, it is nearly impossible to be in a caloric deficit and gain muscle mass. The math is pretty simple. How can you actually gain something (i.e. an excess) when you're consuming less than what is required? Your body needs energy to grow, and when you're giving it less energy based on your activity, it won't grow. The short answer is that you cannot. People that say otherwise (especially in this thread) are pretty misinformed.
Also, it's much easier to have one goal at a time. People that try to gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously usually fail or make such little progress over a long period of time that they quit prematurely. If you want to gain muscle, you can do so while minimizing fat gain and then cut down while minimizing muscle loss in a later phase. This is probably the best (and easiest) way to do it, although it may take longer.