- Will lifting weights convert my fat into muscle?
- Health and Fitness Myth: Turning Fat Into Muscle
- How to Build Muscle
- How to Burn Fat
- More Tips for Burning Fat
- The Myth Of Turning Fat Into Muscle
- Can You Turn Fat Into Muscle? What the Science Says
- If you want to know the truth about “shifting” fat into muscle to get a lean, ripped physique, then you want to read this article.
- Why You Can’t Turn Fat Into Muscle
- Give Me One Week In Your Inbox…
- How to Build Muscle and Lose Fat at the Same Time
- Maintain a moderately aggressive caloric deficit.
- Eat enough protein.
- Do a lot of heavy, compound weightlifting.
- (Optional) Do high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
- Take the right supplements.
- The Bottom Line on Turning Fat Into Muscle
- A 15-Minute Workout to Change Your Fat to Muscle
- You Asked: Am I Gaining Muscle Weight or Fat From My Workout?
- Thank you!
- Does muscle increase weight?
- How much does muscle weigh?
- Does muscle weigh more than fat?
- Muscle vs. fat density: Which one is more dense?
- What’s the difference between a muscle weight vs. fat weight calculator?
- What is the ideal muscle to fat ratio?
- What contributes to the number on the scale?
- 4 Reasons Why You’re Losing Muscle and Not Fat
- Is it possible to cut fat, while still building lean muscle?
- Signs That You’re Losing Muscle and Not Fat
- You’re too stressed
- You’re not sleeping enough
- You’re not eating enough protein
- You’re doing too much cardio
- You’re not lifting heavy
- You’re not drinking enough water
- You’re skipping carbs
- You’re not eating enough fat
Will lifting weights convert my fat into muscle?
- Does Garcinia Cambogia help with weight loss?
- Can hypothyroidism lead to fat gain?
- How do I stay out of “starvation mode?”
- Measuring body fat percentage: It’s an accuracy thing
- Does eating at night make it more likely to gain weight?
- Does diet soda inhibit fat loss?
- How to minimize fat gain when you binge
- A compound from beer may help fat loss
- Can one binge make you fat?
- Will carbs make me fat?
- How do I get a six-pack?
- How does protein affect weight loss?
- What should you eat for weight loss?
- How do I lose fat around my belly?
- Does high-protein intake help when dieting?
- Does eating fat make you fat?
- Is diet soda bad for you?
- How important is sleep?
- How to minimize fat gain during the holidays
- I have lost significant weight and now have loose skin. How can I tighten up my skin?
- Why do my muscles get sore?
- My muscles are not sore after a workout. Am I working out hard enough?
- What are the benefits of resistance training?
- I am a female. Will lifting heavy weights make me bulky?
- Does resistance training work for the elderly?
- Why you shouldn’t be always taking antioxidants, especially if you want to build muscle
- Does dark chocolate’s epicatechin content promote muscle growth?
- Does ashwagandha increase testosterone?
- Can arachidonic acid work as a bodybuilding supplement?
- Is saturated fat bad for your health?
- Low-fat vs. low-carb? Major study concludes: it doesn’t matter for weight loss
- How eating better can make you happier
- Does eating a higher carb diet make you more full?
- Will eating eggs increase my cholesterol?
- How are carbohydrates converted into fat deposits?
- What is Adrenal Fatigue?
- Does aspartame increase appetite?
- Is my “slow metabolism” stalling my weight loss?
- The lowdown on intermittent fasting
- I’m not too tired to stuff my face
- Will eating breakfast keep you lean?
- Do you need to detox?
- Is it really that bad to skip breakfast?
- Will my breasts shrink with weight loss?
- 5 little-known facts about protein
- Is weight lifting bad for kids?
- Whey vs soy protein: which is better when losing weight?
- Is it better to do aerobic exercise fasted?
Health and Fitness Myth: Turning Fat Into Muscle
“Turn fat into muscle!” You’ve probably heard the claim by major tabloids, health products, or exercise programs before. But can you actually convert fat into muscle?
The answer is no. Definitely not.
The truth is that the process of burning fat is completely different from the process of building muscle. Although the two processes are related to each other, to claim that fat can turn into muscle is an enormous oversimplification of what actually happens.
Muscle mass and fat are two very different things. Muscle is actually an active tissue that burns calories 24/7– even when you sleep! The more you move, the more calories you burn. However, fat is simply a storage of excess energy. Its sole purpose in your body is to store energy until your body needs to use it. While some amount of body fat is necessary to stay healthy, most of us don’t need to worry about a deficit of fat. That’s why it’s important to know what’s happening in your body with fat and muscle to be able to make the best health decisions for you.
To help you understand what’s really going on in your body with fat and muscle, we’ll break down the processes for you.
How to Build Muscle
Muscles are built when they are broken down. In other words, you must place more stress on your muscles than they’re accustomed to for them to grow.
Your body adapts to any stress you put on it. For example, if you increase the amount of weight you lift or the distance you run, you’re causing damage to your muscle fibers. From there, your brain is triggered to send satellite cells to repair the damaged fibers. Because your body adapts to stress as you continue to exercise, you’ll need to make adjustments to your workouts in order to see continued muscle growth. That, added with the right amount of macronutrients such as protein and carbs, will build muscle mass.
This is why it’s recommended to eat protein and glycogen– which your muscles use for energy –immediately after your workout session. This will help build new muscle, so long as you keep up your protein intake.
How to Burn Fat
Burning fat is a completely separate process from stressing your body with physical activity and triggering your body to build muscle. With fat, it’s a matter of creating a calorie deficit.
The basic principle is this: if your body is using more calories for energy than you’re consuming through food, then it has to use other forms of stored energy to keep you going. This often means burning fat for fuel.
So here are some ways to create a calorie deficit:
- Cut calories out from your diet (but no more than 500 calories per day)
- Increase exercise to burn calories while maintaining the same daily caloric intake
- Eat slightly fewer calories each day and burn slightly more calories through exercise
More Tips for Burning Fat
Research has shown that the best strategy for burning fat is a combination of diet and exercise. In other words, being mindful of both your caloric intake and caloric output.
Strength training and low-intensity forms of exercise such as walking, jogging, or bike riding tend to burn more fat. The more muscle mass you can add to your body, the higher your metabolic rate– which means the more calories your body burns at rest. Higher intensity exercise can help you burn more calories overall in a shorter amount of time (think HIIT workouts).
But while exercise is great for your body, focusing on exercise alone won’t burn a ton of fat. Remember– burning fat is about creating a deficit. That means you have to be consuming fewer calories than you’re burning to lose fat and the calories you’re consuming need to be healthy.
Best foods to pair with exercise for the purpose of fat-burning:
- Lean beef
- Junk food/greasy food
While fat and muscle are related, the loss of fat does not directly lead to the growth of muscle. The best way to lose fat and gain muscle is to combine a healthy diet with exercise that puts stress on your muscles, and to create a caloric deficit. Remember that it’s always easier to change your habits when you’re not going it alone! So make it a habit to exercise with a friend, family member, or coworker a few times a week while also eating the recommended foods above for a healthy caloric intake.
Want more tips on healthy living? Sign up to Community Strong St. Charles for more resources straight to your inbox!
The Myth Of Turning Fat Into Muscle
Many health and fitness magazines like to splash the wonderful promise of turning fat into muscle on their covers once in a while. They do it for the same reason the tabloids claim Elvis’ half-alien offspring is hanging with his old buddies Bigfoot and Jay Leno—it sells extra copies. Unfortunately, neither is true: You simply cannot transform fat tissue into muscle, and I’m almost certain Jay would choose better company than that.
Muscle mass and fat are two different animals: Muscle is active tissue that burns calories around the clock even as you sleep, kind of like an engine running in neutral. When you move around, you burn more calories, just like a car will consume more gas the faster you go. Fat, on the other hand, is just a storage of excess energy. It does nothing but sit there with its sole goal in life to be a spare tire around your waist until you put in the effort to burn it off.
Bodyfat is not particularly useful except as padding against bumps, as insulation to preserve warmth, and as a convenient surface where you can balance a can of beer while watching the game, as frequently demonstrated by my potbellied father. You need some bodyfat to stay healthy of course, but unless you’re walking around with razor-sharp abs and sunken, fat-depleted cheeks year-round, you probably have nothing to fear.
Lets Get Down To Business
Having recognized the difference between the two, let’s get down to business: Getting rid of the fat and grow the muscles. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to achieve both goals at the same time. The reason for this is that in order to maintain an environment in your body that facilitates fat burn, you must deplete yourself of calories. Growth requires extra calories, much like you’d need extra building material to add a room to your house.
In addition, insulin, which is a key component of growing muscle, is the anti-Christ of fat burn and is released whenever you eat carbohydrates (how much and how fast depends entirely on the type of carbs, however.) The conclusion is that you’ll have to focus on one thing first and take on the next challenge later on.
I recommend beginning by trying to pack on the muscle. That means you’ll have to eat extra calories, including the extra carbs, and live with the fact that you’ll probably gain a few pounds of lard in the process. There’s no need to worry about this as long as you keep the increase in body fat under control and avoid ballooning like the Pillsbury Doughboy. Train heavy, eat lots of healthy bodybuilding food (pasta, rice, chicken, lean beef, tuna, oatmeal etc.) but no junk food, candy or alcohol.
When you’ve packed on perhaps 5 or 10 pounds of muscle (or whatever your goal was,) switch gears and start the diet. As always, you’ll have to keep a daily log of what you eat and carefully adjust your eating patterns so that you eat an average of 500 calories less than you burn each day. Here’s where you reap the benefit of having gained the muscle beforehand: Remember the analogy of your muscles being like an engine running in neutral?
Muscle burn calories 24/7, and the more mass you have, the more calories are burned without you even having to lift a finger. This in turn translates to a more lenient diet. In other words, if your added muscle mass boosts your natural metabolism by, say 200 calories per day, that’s 200 calories more you can eat and STILL lose body fat! In other words, you’ll look better, get to eat more, and will still lose fat at the same rate. How sweet of a deal is that?
Keep Protein Intake Up
As you diet, you want to keep the protein intake up. Also make sure to keep hitting the weights as you did before—it’s your best insurance policy against losing your hard-earned muscle mass. The goal at this point is to slowly but surely shave off the fat without sacrificing mass, so take it easy. No sudden changes in eating habits will improve your situation, only worsen it.
After a few months you should have lost at least 10-15 lbs of fat, and if you played your cards right, you should have kept most of the gains you made prior to the diet. Ta-daa! By taking a little more time and splitting up your two goals, you achieved what you wanted. Had you tried to chase both rabbits simultaneously, you’d been almost guaranteed to fail at least one of the goals.
Can You Turn Fat Into Muscle? What the Science Says
If you want to know the truth about “shifting” fat into muscle to get a lean, ripped physique, then you want to read this article.
Imagine if you could take half of the fat on your body and turn it into muscle.
Life would be glorious, wouldn’t it?
You’d relish what you saw in the mirror every day and delight in every opportunity to show some skin and flaunt your rippling abs.
Well, I have good news…
CLICK THIS BUTTON TO GIVE ME $97.97 IN 79 EASY HOURLY INSTALLMENTS AND I WILL SHOW YOU HOW!
Just kidding. 🙂
I won’t charge you any money. This one is on the house. Because I like you. And because I hope you like my advice enough to buy a book or supplement or something.
And so let’s talk about why you’re here.
You probably feel too fat–or maybe “skinny fat”–and wish you could just transmogrify some of that bouncing blubber into rock-hard muscle.
Well, I hate to break it to you but…you can’t. It’s physically impossible.
Fat simply can’t “turn into” muscle and muscle can’t turn into fat, and no amount of “clean eating,” fancy exercise routines, or pills or powders can change that.
What you can do, though, is lose fat and gain muscle, producing the same end result. And I’m going to break it all down in this article.
Let’s get to it.
Why You Can’t Turn Fat Into Muscle
The reason you can’t turn fat into muscle is simple — they’re different tissues with very different makeups and jobs.
Muscle tissue is mostly made up of protein, water, and glycogen (a form of carbohydrate), whereas body fat is mostly comprised of triglycerides (bundles of fatty acids).
Furthermore, muscle’s primary role is powering movement, while fat is primarily an energy store to be tapped into when the need arises. These tissues wear other hats as well, including the storage of carbohydrate for energy (muscle) and the production of hormones (fat).
As you can see, muscle and fat have very little in common, and the body has no way to transform one into the other. Fatty acids simply can’t turn into proteins and vice versa.
Why do so many people believe they can, then?
Well, a lot of the confusion stems from radical before-and-after transformations that give the appearance that fat has simply been “traded in” for muscle.
For example, check out these success stories from people that have followed my diet and weightlifting programs for men and women:
As you can see, these people are considerably leaner and more muscular in their “after” shots, but it’s not because they turned fat into muscle.
Instead, they they lost fat and gained muscle at the same time, otherwise known as “body recomposition.”
Technically speaking, what happened is their fat cells shrunk and muscle tissues grew, producing a dramatic change in their body composition.
So, while muscle and fat can grow or shrink at the same time, they never transform into one another.
Give Me One Week In Your Inbox…
…and I’ll show you the best evidence-based ways to improve your body composition, develop your “inner game”, and optimize your overall health and well-being.
Great! You’re subscribed!
Looks like you’re already subscribed!
How to Build Muscle and Lose Fat at the Same Time
You came here wanting to know how to turn fat into muscle.
You now know that what you really want to know how to do is build muscle and lose fat at the same time.
And you’re in luck because it’s actually quite simple.
If you’re new to weightlifting, you can easily lose 10 to 15 pounds of fat and gain the same amount of muscle in just your first year in the gym…if you follow the advice I’m about to give you.
If you’re an intermediate or advanced weightlifter, however, then you’re going to have to pick one or the other — ”cutting” or “bulking” — because your “recomp” days are behind you.
My guess is you’re in the former camp, though, so here’s what you need to do:
Maintain a moderately aggressive caloric deficit.
The only way to lose a significant amount of fat is to eat less energy than you burn.
Yes, calories in vs. calories out matters. A lot.
When you eat fewer calories than you burn, you’re creating an energy deficit that must be filled, and your body turns primarily to its fat stores to accomplish this.
Keep your body in this state for long enough, and your fat stores get smaller and smaller.
This is why the first prerequisite of a successful of body recomposition is a caloric deficit. This is what drives fat loss.
No caloric deficit = no fat loss to speak of, period.
You don’t want to be in too large of a deficit, though, as it can inhibit muscle growth and lead to mood disturbances, binge eating, and a host of other problems.
That’s why I recommend an aggressive, but not reckless, caloric deficit of about 25%.
In other words, I recommend that you eat about 75% of the energy that you burn every day because studies show that this is large enough to keep you losing fat at a rapid clip, but not so large that you’ll suffer unwanted side-effects.
Want to know how many calories you should eat? Check out this article.
Eat enough protein.
Research shows that when restricting calories, a high-protein diet results in more fat loss, muscle preservation, and fullness (which means less hunger and cravings).
Thus, if you want to lose fat and not muscle and generally have an easier time of it, then you need to make sure you’re eating enough protein.
The RDI for intake protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, but studies show that double and even triple that amount isn’t enough to preserve lean mass while dieting.
That’s why I recommend that you eat around 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day when cutting.
If you’re very overweight (25%+ body fat in men and 30%+ in women), then this can be reduced to 40% of your total daily calories.
Want to know more about how much protein you should eat? Check out this article.
Do a lot of heavy, compound weightlifting.
Compound exercises are those that use multiple major muscle groups, like the squat, bench press, military press, and deadlift.
If you want to gain muscle and strength as quickly as possible, then you want to emphasize these exercises in your training, and particularly with heavy loads (75%+ of your one-rep max).
There are several reasons for this, but the biggest one has to do with progressive tension overload.
This refers to increasing tension levels in your muscles over time, and it’s the primary driver of muscle growth.
The best way to progressively overload your muscles is adding weight to the bar over time, which is why increasing whole-body strength is critical as a natural weightlifter.
And the style of training most conducive to that goal is…you guessed it…heavy, compound weightlifting.
Want to know how to build an effective weightlifting routine? Check out this article.
(Optional) Do high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
You don’t need to do cardio to lose fat, but it’ll speed up the process. Do too much, though, and it’ll interfere with muscle gains.
That’s why I recommend a style of cardio called high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, where you alternate between near-max-effort sprints and low-intensity recovery periods.
It’s harder than traditional low-intensity cardio, but research shows that it burns more fat, increases your metabolic rate for over 24 hours, and improves insulin sensitivity in your muscles (which is good for muscle growth).
It’s also better for preserving muscle than regular low-intensity cardio, mainly because you don’t have to do nearly as much to keep the fat loss needle moving.
Want to know how to build an effective HIIT routine? Check out this article.
Take the right supplements.
I saved this for last because it’s the least important.
The truth is most supplements for building muscle and losing fat are worthless.
Unfortunately, no amount of pills and powders are going to make you muscular and lean.
That said, if you know how to drive your body recomposition with proper dieting and exercise, certain supplements can accelerate the process.
Here are the ones I use and recommend:
RECHARGE Post-Workout Supplement
RECHARGE is a 100% natural post-workout supplement that helps you gain muscle and strength faster, and recover better from your workouts.
Once it’s had time to accumulate in your muscles (about a week of use), the first thing you’re going to notice is increased strength and anaerobic endurance, less muscle soreness, and faster post workout muscle recovery.
And the harder you can train in your workouts and the faster you can recover from them, the more muscle and strength you’re going to build over time.
Furthermore, RECHARGE doesn’t need to be cycled, which means it’s safe for long-term use, and its effects don’t diminish over time.
It’s also naturally sweetened and flavored and contains no artificial food dyes, fillers, or other unnecessary junk.
So, if you want to be able to push harder in the gym, train more frequently, and get more out of your workouts, then you want to try RECHARGE today.
WHEY+ Protein Powder
Whey protein powder is a staple in most athletes’ diets for good reason.
It’s digested quickly, it’s absorbed well, it has a fantastic amino acid profile, and it’s easy on the taste buds.
Not all whey proteins are created equal, though.
Whey concentrate protein powder, for example, can be as low as 30% protein by weight, and can also contain a considerable amount of fat and carbs.
And the more fat and carbs you’re drinking, the less you can actually enjoy in your food.
Whey isolate protein powder, on the other hand, is the purest whey protein you can buy. It’s 90%+ protein by weight and has almost no fat or carbs.
Another benefit of whey isolate is it contains no lactose, which means better digestibility and fewer upset stomachs.
Well, WHEY+ is a 100% naturally sweetened and flavored whey isolate protein powder made from exceptionally high-quality milk from small dairy farms in Ireland.
It contains no GMOs, hormones, antibiotics, artificial food dyes, fillers, or other unnecessary junk, and it tastes delicious and mixes great.
So, if you want a clean, all-natural, and great tasting whey protein supplement that’s low in calories, carbs, and fat, then you want to try WHEY+ today.
PHOENIX Fat Burner
Do you want to lose fat faster without giving up coffee and pre-workout?
And without upset stomachs, jitters, nausea, or the dreaded post-workout crash?
Well, PHOENIX is a 100% natural and caffeine-free fat burner that helps you lose fat faster in three ways:
- It increases your metabolic rate.
- It amplifies the power of fat-burning chemicals produced by your body.
- It increases the feeling of fullness from food.
In short, it speeds up your metabolism, helps your body burn fat more efficiently, and helps you control hunger and cravings and maintain high energy levels.
It also contains no artificial food dyes, fillers, or other unnecessary junk.
So, if you want to burn more fat every day and have an easier time sticking to your diet without having to pump yourself full of harsh stimulants or potentially harmful chemicals, then you want to try PHOENIX today.
Is your pre-workout simply not working anymore?
Are you sick and tired of pre-workout drinks that make you sick and tired?
Have you had enough of upset stomachs, jitters, nausea, and the dreaded post-workout crash?
Do you wish your pre-workout supplement gave you sustained energy and more focus and motivation to train? Do you wish it gave you noticeably better workouts and helped you hit PRs?
If you’re nodding your head, then you’re going to love PULSE.
It increases energy, improves mood, sharpens mental focus, increases strength and endurance, and reduces fatigue…without unwanted side effects or the dreaded post-workout crash.
It’s also naturally sweetened and flavored and contains no artificial food dyes, fillers, or other unnecessary junk.
Lastly, it contains no proprietary blends and each serving delivers nearly 20 grams of active ingredients scientifically proven to improve performance.
So, if you want to feel focused, tireless, and powerful in your workouts…and if you want to say goodbye to the pre-workout jitters, upset stomachs, and crashes for good…then you want to try PULSE today.
The Bottom Line on Turning Fat Into Muscle
Trying to turn fat into muscle is a fool’s errand.
It simply can’t be done because they’re two completely different tissues and the body has no way to transform one into the other.
What you can do, though, is “replace” body fat with muscle (so to speak) by losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time.
It’s not hard, either. Here’s the recap:
- Maintain an aggressive (but not reckless) caloric deficit of 25%
- Eat enough protein
- Do a lot of heavy, compound weightlifting
- (Optional) Do high-intensity interval training
- Take the right supplements
Follow that simple formula and before long, you’ll be well on your way to your best body ever.
A 15-Minute Workout to Change Your Fat to Muscle
The truth is you can’t turn one type of tissue into another. But you can burn more fat and build muscle with short, intense bursts of exercise that raise your heart rate and get your body working as efficiently as possible.
This type of high-intensity training over a short period of time can actually burn more fat than moderately-paced, longer cardio sessions. The key to a workout like this is to strap on a heart rate monitor and keep your heart rate at 80% of your target. Try this 15-minute workout every day to start seeing real results.
1. 30 Seconds of Burpees
- Begin in a squat position with hands on the floor in front of you.
- Kick your feet back to a pushup position.
- Immediately return your feet to the squat position.
- Leap up as high as possible from the squat position.
Image zoom Image zoom Image zoom
15 Seconds of Rest
Take 15 seconds to catch your breath!
2. 20 Split Lunges on Each side
- Stand with one foot forward and one leg behind you.
- Bend both knees and lower your body weight down towards the floor keeping your chest lifted and shoulders open and relaxed.
- Then push up explosively and jump off the ground.
- Switch your legs in mid air and then land with your opposite feet forward and back from where your started.
- As you land, bend both knees so as to soften the landing.
- Push back up again explosively and switch your legs around back to start position.
15 Seconds of Rest
3. 30 Seconds of Mountain Climbers
- Begin in a pushup position on the hands and toes
- Bring the right knee in towards the chest, resting the foot on the floor
- Jump up and switch feet in the air, bringing the left foot in and the right foot
- Continue alternating the feet as fast as you can
4. 20 More Split Lunges on Each Side
15 Seconds of Rest
5. 30 Seconds of Tricep Towers
- Start in a plank position on your elbows and toes.
- Keeping your alignment and go onto your hands, one side at a time.
- Go back down to resting on your elbows
Image zoom Image zoom Image zoom
Repeat the entire series 3 times!
Jennifer Cohen is a leading fitness authority, TV personality, best-selling author, and entrepreneur. With her signature, straight-talking approach to wellness, Jennifer was the featured trainer on The CW’s Shedding for the Wedding, mentoring the contestants’ to lose hundreds of pounds before their big day, and she appears regularly on NBC’s Today Show, Extra, The Doctors and Good Morning America. Connect with Jennifer on Facebook, Twitter, G+ and on Pinterest.
- 9 Easy Ways to Sneak in Exercise
- Small Diet and Exercise Tricks That Get Big Results
- Shape Up in 7 Minutes
You Asked: Am I Gaining Muscle Weight or Fat From My Workout?
Apart from an iced latte here and a skipped workout there, you’ve been good about sticking to your new health regimen. So it’s frustrating to step on the scale and see your weight has hardly budged. Or worse, you’ve put on a few pounds.
But wait, doesn’t muscle weigh more than fat? You have added pushups to your workouts…
Unfortunately, the odds that you’ve added even a small amount of muscle, let alone a few pounds of the stuff, is highly unlikely, says Dr. Lawrence Cheskin, director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center. “Unless you’re actively body-building”—think hour-long, three-days-a-week weight room workouts—“it’s very hard to gain a pound or more of muscle.”
Even if you are hitting the weights regularly, you’re not going to gain muscle weight rapidly, especially in the beginning. “It’s going to take at least four to six weeks of consistent training to experience significant gains,” says Michele Olson, an adjunct professor of sports science at Huntingdon University. Unless you’re engaged in some Arnold-level lifting, the two or three pounds you’ve added aren’t muscle.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s fat, either. “In the short term, almost any changes in body weight, either up or down, are going to be from fluid shifts,” Cheskin says.
Cut added salt from your diet, and you’ll lose a lot of retained water very quickly. Or, if you weigh yourself after a hard, sweaty workout but before you rehydrate, you’re likely to have dropped a few pounds. “That can be gratifying, but it’s not meaningful,” Cheskin says.
Get our Health Newsletter. Sign up to receive the latest health and science news, plus answers to wellness questions and expert tips.
For your security, we’ve sent a confirmation email to the address you entered. Click the link to confirm your subscription and begin receiving our newsletters. If you don’t get the confirmation within 10 minutes, please check your spam folder.
A new exercise program could also cause you to retain some extra fluid. “When you start working out and you’re sweating, your body is smart, and it understands that its volume of fluid is not at the level it typically would be,” Olson says. In order to prevent dehydration, your body responds by storing extra water, which can cause your weight to increase by a few pounds. The same thing can happen as the summer temperatures tick up and your body adjusts to the added heat and increased rate of sweating. (Combine the onset of summer with a new, intense workout schedule, and you can expect to add at least a few pounds due to water retention.)
On the other hand, you may drop a few pounds when fall temperatures arrive or you quit exercising. “If you’ve been working out a lot and you suddenly stop, I guarantee you will lose some water weight,” Olson says.
MORE: The TIME Guide To Exercise
All of these short-term factors help explain why most exercise physiologists and weight-loss counselors tell people not to get too hung up on the number on the scale. Your body weight is not a static measure or one composed solely of your proportion of fat to muscle. It’s going to slide up and down based on a lot of variables that don’t have much to do with your health.
That doesn’t mean you should trash your bathroom scale; some research suggests that overweight adults who weigh themselves regularly are more likely to stick with the diet and exercise routines that help them shed pounds.
But you’re better off weighing yourself just once or twice a week—first thing in the morning, after you pee but before you eat—and keeping track of how your weight shifts over a period of several weeks or months. The long-term pattern of weight gain or loss is a better indicator of how you’re doing. “Especially if you get upset by those day-to-day fluctuations, it’s better not to torture yourself,” Cheskin says.
The best way to keep tabs on your body weight has nothing to do with scales. “Just ask yourself if your clothes are fitting you better or looser, or if you have more energy, or if you feel healthier,” Olson says.
If you answer yes to these questions, whatever you’re doing is working.
Most Popular on TIME
Contact us at [email protected]
Starting on a weight loss journey isn’t easy and it’s normal to get fixated on tracking calories and the number on the scale. Many 8fitters report that they see differences in their body composition, strength and energy, but are disappointed to see the same — or sometimes higher — number on the scale.
Why might this be? The simple answer is that when it comes to muscle weight vs. fat weight, muscle weighs more. Muscle, by nature, is denser and takes up less volume than fat. Our best advice won’t come as a surprise: stick with your meal plan, do regular workouts, and focus less on the scale and more on how you look and feel.
In this article, our 8fit coaches answer your most frequently asked questions about muscle weight and fat weight.
Does muscle increase weight?
Yes. If you gain muscle, you’ll gain weight. This is even true for individuals who shed fat while increasing their strength. Remember that the number on the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. 8fit’s primary workout program consists of strength-building, fat-burning HIIT workouts. As you progress through your individualized workout program, you’ll notice your strength increases as your waistline decreases.
How much does muscle weigh?
This is a question 8fitters often ask. What’s more important to understand here is that muscle is denser than fat. So, one cubic inch of muscle weighs slightly more than one cubic inch of fat. Depending on a number of individual factors, muscle weighs about 15-20% more than fat.
Does muscle weigh more than fat?
One pound of muscle and one pound of fat weigh the same: one pound. The difference is the amount of space they both take up. Like we mentioned above, one cubic inch of muscle weighs more than one cubic inch of fat. But, why? We’ll answer that in the next question.
Muscle vs. fat density: Which one is more dense?
Why does muscle weigh more than fat? It all has to do with density and overall composition. Muscles are made of long fibers tightly woven together. Fat, on the other hand, is composed of different sized droplets and some are more full than others. These droplets stick to each other but leave some empty space in between.
In the image below, you’ll notice that one pound of muscle takes up less space than one pound of fat. This is why you might notice a slimmer waistline but no drastic change on the scale as you begin a new workout or meal plan regime – your body is burning light fat, but building heavier muscles.
What’s the difference between a muscle weight vs. fat weight calculator?
There are a number of ways to calculate body composition, but not every method is easily accessible to everyone. First, some of these tests are quite expensive and also only available at hospitals or special labs. Some of these body composition calculator methods include:
Skin calipers: These devices measure the thickness of skin folds in different areas of the body. The devices are relatively inexpensive, but the margin for error is high because the same areas must be pinched time after time. This test is reliable but needs to be performed by a health professional or kinesiologist.
Bioelectrical impedance: Bioelectrical impedance monitors send small electrical pulses throughout the body and measure how quickly those impulses return — fast return time means more muscle tissue, less fat and a leaner physique. These monitors are affordable, but not always accurate because of variables like hydration levels, meal times and more.
Hydrostatic weighing: Hydrostatic weighing submerges your body in water and calculates the difference between your normal weight and weight under water. While this is an accurate technique, it’s not easy to find a proper hydrostatic weighing facility.
Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA): DXA scans can calculate bone density and body composition. Like hydrostatic weighing, this method is extremely accurate, but you might have a hard time finding a facility. You’ll need to book an appointment with a medical professional and pay a pretty penny or two.
Other ways to calculate muscle weight and fat weight include 3D body scans, measurement of total body water and air-displacement plethysmography.
What is the ideal muscle to fat ratio?
To answer this question, we need to know a little more about you. Your ideal muscle to fat ratio depends on your gender, age bracket, activity level and more. Take a look at the American Council on Exercise’s (ACE) breakdown here.
What contributes to the number on the scale?
There’s a lot more than muscle and fat weight contributing to the number you see on the scale. Your bones and organs weigh a bit too. Then, there’s water weight. The adult human body is around 60% water and the number on the scale can fluctuate depending on how hydrated you are.
If you have specific questions about your ideal weight or body fat percentage, consult your primary care physician.
Start your transformation todayGet your workout plan
(Last Updated On: April 7, 2019)
It’s easy to tell whether you’re gaining weight. You step on a scale and see the value has changed. If it’s down and you’re trying to lose weight, you do a happy dance! But don’t celebrate so fast. What the scale doesn’t tell you is the type of tissue you’ve lost or gained. Was it body fat, water, or muscle? Of course, you’re training hard with weights and hoping that you’re gaining muscle and losing a little body fat if you have too much. But, how can you really know whether you’re gaining muscle rather than fat?
Weight Training for Muscle Building
When you train with weights, you stress your muscles enough to damage muscle fibers. The injury has to be repaired. So, your muscles go to work mending the torn and stretched muscle fibers. When they do, they lay down new myofibrils, the contractile units within muscle fibers that allow you to flex and proudly display your biceps. More contractile units make your muscles stronger and they’re better able to handle the stress you place on them in the future. In the process, your muscles also, over time, become larger, assuming you’re training properly and supplying your body with the appropriate macronutrients.
It’s not hard to know whether you’re gaining muscle strength. After you’ve trained for a while, you’re able to lift more weight and do more reps than when you started. Progression is one sign that you’ve become stronger. But, how do you know whether you’re gaining muscle size?
Are You Gaining Muscle?
If you’re stronger than you were, you might assume you’ve gained muscle size since muscles become stronger when they’re larger. However, it’s not so clear-cut. Muscles can also become stronger without increasing in size through neural adaptations. In fact, the gains in strength you see during the first 2 to 3 months of training are mostly neural adaptations. These are adaptations that your brain and nervous system make to function better together and they’re independent of gains in muscle size.
What do these neural changes consist of? In response to early training, your nervous system typically becomes better at firing motor units in a synchronous manner. Better synchronization of motor units helps your muscles contract with greater force. Plus, your brain and nervous system become more adept at turning on agonist muscles and turning off antagonist muscles that oppose the contraction of a particular muscle. Therefore, there’s less antagonistic activity opposing the contraction of a particular muscle and the muscle can contract with more force. Your muscles haven’t grown, in the early stages, yet they function better, thanks to your brain, nervous system, and muscles being more in sync.
Now you know why strength isn’t always a good measure of muscle growth. Muscles can become stronger without growing, especially during the first few months of training. So, muscle strength and size aren’t correlated in a one to one manner. Now, let’s look at how you can get a better idea of whether you’re building muscle tissue.
How about the Tape Measure or the Mirror?
You could measure the size of the muscles you’re working using a tape measure. The problem here is you still don’t know whether an increase in the circumference of a muscle is due to a gain in muscle or an increase in body fat. However, if you’re losing weight and seeing an increase in muscle circumference, you probably ARE gaining muscle. Still, using a tape measure is a crude way to measure muscle gains and it’s not extremely accurate due to the fat issue.
How about looking in the mirror? If you’re making significant gains, you might look more defined when you catch your reflection in the mirror and may notice that your clothes fit differently. However, it usually takes significant gains to notice a difference when you see yourself every day. So, this isn’t a very sensitive way to follow gains in muscle size and it’s too subjective.
Is There an Easier Way?
Another approach is to determine your body fat percentage before you begin training. Although it’s not 100% accurate, you can use inexpensive calipers to do this. Even if it’s not completely accurate, you can use it to see how your body fat changes over time. Once you know your body fat percentage, multiply it by your body weight. For example, if you weigh 130 pounds and have a body fat percentage of 20%, the weight of your body fat is 26 pounds
130 X 20% = 26 pounds of body fat
Now, subtract, this value from your total body weight. This will give you the approximate weight of your muscle and all of the lean tissue and water in your body. ( LBM includes muscle, bone, organs, etc. It’s not just your muscle mass.)
130 pounds – 26= 104 pounds of lean body mass
So, your lean body weight is 104 pounds. You don’t actually know how much of this 104 pounds is muscle and how much is lean body tissue other than muscle but it doesn’t matter. If the value goes up, it will be due to an increase in muscle mass since your other lean tissue doesn’t change significantly over time.
Now, all you have to do at a future point is to check your body fat and weight and plug it into the equations above. For example:
You check your weight in the future and you’re now at 128 pounds and your body fat percentage has dropped to 18%.
128 x 18% = 23.04 pounds of body fat
128 – 23.04 = 104.96 pounds of lean body mass
Subtract the former value for pounds of lean body mass from the current value:
104.96 pounds – 104 pounds = .96 pounds
Congratulations! You gained .96 pounds of lean body mass!
When you weigh yourself, be sure to do it first thing in the morning after urinating and before eating or drinking anything. You want to get the values under standard conditions.
The Bottom Line
Don’t focus TOO much on weighing yourself and checking your body fat percentage obsessively. Concentrate, instead, on whether you’re becoming stronger and how you look and feel. Even if you don’t gain a large quantity of muscle or lose a great deal of body fat, strength training has multiple health benefits, both mental and physical. Most importantly, it helps maintain muscle mass and strength as you age, as well as bone density. Still, it’s nice to know whether you’re building muscle and this calculation will give you a better idea.
Sports Med. 2007;37(2):145-68.
Related Articles By Cathe:
3 Tests that Outperform BMI for Monitoring Obesity & Health Risks
When You Lose Weight, How Much is Fat & How Much is Muscle Loss?
Are Some People Non-Responders to Strength Training?
Related Cathe Friedrich Workout DVDs:
STS Strength 90 Day Workout Program
All of Cathe’s Strength & Toning Workout DVDs
Total Body Workouts
Lower Body Workouts
Upper Body Workouts
There are a lot of reasons to work out, including improving health, burning fat, gaining muscle, and just simply feeling better. Many of us have multiple goals at once, and luckily, a lot of these logically go hand-in-hand. Losing fat and gaining muscle, however, seem to be a little conflicting.
When you’re trying to lose fat, you’re trying to get rid of some of your body’s mass; when you’re gaining muscle, you’re looking to do the opposite and build up your body. So it makes sense to wonder, can you really add muscle mass at the same time? Surprisingly, the answer is yes.
In fact, working on both goals at the same time will maximize your results—many of the same exercises that are good for burning fat are also great for building up muscles. And it’s kind of a domino effect: When you have more muscle mass, your body requires more energy at rest (that is, burns more calories when you’re not even moving).
But nailing fat loss and muscle gains in one fell swoop requires a strategic approach. Here’s why: If you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. But when you restrict your calories, your body has to pull from existing energy stores in your body—fat, carbohydrate, and even protein—in order to function. As a result, you wind up losing fat, but unfortunately, you also lose muscle mass.
In fact, up to a whopping 25 percent of the weight that you lose from a low-calorie diet is in the form of hard-earned muscle, Michaela Devries-Aboud, Ph.D., assistant kinesiology professor at the University of Waterloo, tells SELF.
Yet, multiple studies and experts say that losing fat and gaining muscle simultaneously is totally doable. “It’s difficult, but possible,” Stephen Ball, Ph.D., associate professor of nutritional science and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri, tells SELF.
To achieve both goals at once, you need to focus on two main things: protein and weightlifting.
First, let’s talk about cutting calories. If you’re trying to cut calories to lose weight, there are a few things you need to know to do it safely.
You need to create a calorie deficit to lose weight—that is, you need to consume fewer calories than the energy you burn at rest and during your workout. But that’s only when you want to lose weight. If you’re looking to lose fat and gain muscle, your number on the scale might not budge—or might even go up!—even though your physique is changing dramatically. In fact, you might even notice that you look slimmer or more toned even though you haven’t lost weight. That’s simply because you’re gaining muscle and losing fat.
We’re not suggesting that you should cut calories, but if that’s something you want to do, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind. For one, if you cut too much at once you’ll only sabotage your efforts. Restricting calories too severely leaves you with limited energy to complete a workout, and ultimately slows your metabolism. “Drastic changes in calories make your body compensate metabolically to defend your initial body weight. “Therefore, your body will decrease the amount of energy burned to conserve calories and prevent weight loss,” says Kristen F. Gradney, R.D.N., director of nutrition and metabolic services at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
In addition, skimping on calories—protein in particular—can leave next to nothing for your muscles to feed on after your workout. “Resistance exercise is typically considered anabolic, meaning it breaks down muscle,” Gradney tells SELF. “If you’re not consuming adequate calories and protein, muscle may not recover and rebuild appropriately.”
4 Reasons Why You’re Losing Muscle and Not Fat
Typically, when you want to “lose weight,” you mean you want to lose fat while maintaining as much muscle as possible. If you’re losing muscle and not fat, then you may need to make some changes to your diet and exercise to counteract this.
Dominic Gallo, accredited practicing dietitian and owner of DG Dietetics and Fitness, explains how to cut the fat, but keep the muscle.
Is it possible to cut fat, while still building lean muscle?
“Absolutely,” says Gallo. To do this, you need to be in a slight energy deficit where you are not starving yourself, but are still consuming fewer calories than you are burning. You also need to be eating adequate amounts of protein and avoiding these bad foods to achieve this.
However, just eating protein isn’t enough. As Gallo points out, “The key is plenty of exercise (a mix of cardio and resistance). Without stimuli or a trigger, the muscles won’t want to grow, since they aren’t being used.”
Build lean muscle with our fitness classes and workouts. View sample workouts here.
Signs That You’re Losing Muscle and Not Fat
Look out for these signs that the weight you are losing is more muscle than fat:
You’re losing too much weight, too fast.
Who would have thought that this could be a bad thing? But, it is, if you’re trying to cut fat while maintaining/growing your muscle mass.
Your body can only shed a certain amount of fat before it starts turning to muscle. Gallo adds, that for accurate readings, don’t simply rely on your normal scales.
Instead, “Use scales that measure body fat percentage (like this best seller) and muscle mass, to first establish a baseline.” Once you have these measurements, you can “then monitor progress against these numbers.”
You want your body fat percentage to decrease, while muscle mass should stay the same or go up.
You feel more tired than usual.
“In a more subjective measure, feeling weak or tired during workouts is a good indication that muscle is being lost,” explains Gallo, including, “not being able to lift as much weight, or muscles becoming exhausted faster than before.”
If you find that you are starting to consistently half-ass your workouts, then it may be a repercussion of losing muscle and not fat.
Prevent losing muscle by training right. Our workouts have you covered.
1. You’re not eating enough protein.
You need to feed your muscles protein to maintain and build them. Gallo sees “a multitude of fad diets and cleanses, which drop water weight (not effective method of weight loss) and cause muscle loss.”
He explains that since these fad diets often lack protein, they cause your body to enter a “muscle destroying starvation mode, catabolism.”
The Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise medical journal also published a study that showed the correlation between increased protein and “reduced loss of lean body mass.” Healthy, young, elite athletes that were given a high-protein diet lost more weight while still maintaining muscle over those who had a “normal” amount of protein in their diet.
So, while you should be in a calorie deficit to lose fat, you should be focusing on healthy whole foods, with a healthy amount of protein. To help maintain or build muscle, Gallo recommends eating “fish, lean meat, eggs, tofu, and low-fat dairy.”
2. You’re not using your muscles.
Not using your muscles can cause them to waste away, so make sure that you strength train. “Resistance exercises and high-intensity cardio are fantastic for building muscle and cutting fat,” says Gallo. “I love multi-joint compound exercises, such as squats, deadlift, bench press, pull-ups, and any high-intensity cardio.”
Not to mention, because muscles burn more calories than fat, you will be helping yourself if you strength train. Not only will you be able to grow muscle, but you can aid in your weight loss. So, use those muscles or lose them!
3. You’re not allowing yourself to recover.
People often blame muscle loss on too much cardio, and while Gallo agrees, he does so only to a certain extent. “Too much cardio is the classic muscle loss enemy, but gets a bad rap. Doing too much cardio with inadequate recovery will certainly lead to muscle wasting,” he explains.
However, he adds, “if you consume some protein in your cardio recovery and train resistance/weights at least two to three times per week, there should be no reason to lose muscle.” So, the key is to make sure that you get that protein in, without neglecting your strength training for cardio.
4. You’re not sleeping enough.
Part of that pivotal recovery progress is getting enough shut-eye. Not getting enough sleep raises cortisol levels in the body.
This imbalance can mess with growth hormone production, which increases the chance that the carbs you consume will be stored as fat. It also slows muscle growth which leads to—you guessed it—more fat.
Also, compare your training and energy levels after a bad night’s sleep and a good night’s sleep.
We’ll bet that you are much more efficient and energetic when you’ve had a good night’s sleep. Make sure that you get your rest so that when do you work out, it is a great session.
Ready to take your workouts to the next level? Listen to some of our workouts and see how Aaptiv can be a part of your workout routine.
You’ve been pushing yourself in the gym lately—you’re working your tail off, exercising throughout the week, all while making sure you’re eating as clean as you can.
All of that’s great—and we certainly applaud you for it—but the real truth is that you’re probably sabotaging your own results and hurting your body transformation. What if, by making a few simple tweaks to your lifestyle, diet, and exercise, you could unlock a new level of gains you could never get before?
Yeah, we thought that would get your attention.
If you want to work on gaining muscle and losing weight, read on for our plan to correct the eight ways you’re hurting your muscle gain and fat loss. Don’t worry—you’ll change them in no time.
You’re too stressed
Being too stressed out can make a major difference. Too much stress elevates your cortisol levels, constantly activates your sympathetic nervous system—your “fight-or-flight” response—and raises your levels of glucocorticoids, which causes a host of health problems. But when it comes to building a great body, too much stress can also interfere with testosterone and growth hormone production, which limits muscle growth, increases fat (especially around your belly), and even weakens bones.
Every day, take a few minutes in the middle of your day to completely relax and recharge. Also, incorporate activities like yoga, stretching, meditation, and breathing exercises into your training program.
You’re not sleeping enough
Back in 1910, the average American got nine hours of sleep per night—but now it’s down to around seven hours. Blame TV, blame cell phones, blame social media—either way, you need some shuteye.
To get the most from your training, you need to maximize your recovery. Sleep deprivation hurts your muscle gains because it interferes with recovery and growth hormone production. Cutting back on sleep also wrecks your fat loss. Japanese researchers have found that shorter sleep duration is correlated with higher BMI levels and a bigger waist, according to a 6,000-person study published in the International Journal of Obesity.
Get at least eight hours of good sleep each and every night. For better sleep, stop drinking caffeine after mid-day, drink less alcohol (which hurts sleep quality), and create a pre-bed ritual to get your body and mind ready for sleep.
You’re not eating enough protein
Adding more protein is a simple way to get things going. In a study from the Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that a high-protein diet improved body composition, cholesterol markers, and insulin levels more than a diet of moderate protein, even while keeping calories the same. And it makes sense: Protein is the building block of muscle and it helps you maintain muscle mass while you drop body fat.
Protein shakes, for example, help you build more muscle mass and stay lean by boosting your calorie burn after a workout. Eat at least 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight for better results.
You’re doing too much cardio
While long, slow jogs are great at developing your aerobic system, too much “traditional cardio” can actually create a negative effect. If your goal is muscle gain, for example, excessive cardio hurts recovery and reduces muscle gain because you’re focusing on endurance training.
Instead, blend traditional cardio with interval-type protocols to improve all your energy systems.
You’re not lifting heavy
To add strength and build size, you need to lift heavy and hard. Focus on multi-joint exercises like squats, deadlifts, rows, and presses to stimulate a lot of hormonal release and more gains.
The same goes if you’re trying to lose fat because your body tends to lose muscle during a calorie deficit. The best way to prevent muscle loss is to train heavy. Adding more muscle also increases your basal metabolic rate, which boosts the number of calories you burn throughout the day.
During your workout, use lower reps (4–8) and heavier weights with a lot of volume.
You’re not drinking enough water
Even with all the people carrying water bottles, almost half of all Americans don’t drink enough water. Yet when it comes to fat loss, even the smallest amount of dehydration hurts your results because your metabolism slows down to conserve water. The same goes for muscle gain: Not drinking enough water destroys your performance in the gym and limits your progress.
To keep your body functioning optimally, drink enough water to keep your urine clear or faintly yellow.
You’re skipping carbs
Contrary to trendy diets, carbs are NOT evil. Carbs provide the energy to build mass and restore your energy stores, which is absolutely vital if you’re crushing an intense workout several times a week. And even if your goal is fat loss, skipping carbs will still hurt, not help, you.
As long as you eat clean sources of carbs like potatoes, yams, whole grains, fruits, and quinoa, you’ll be fine. For muscle gain, don’t worry about eating “too many carbs”; for fat loss, however, eat carbs only on your strength-training days.
You’re not eating enough fat
If you want to lose fat, eat more fat. Australian researchers found that combining aerobic exercise with fish oil, which is a fat, dropped much more body fat than exercise alone. Also, fat is vital for muscle gain because testosterone is made from cholesterol.
Avoid trans fats and hydrogenated oils, and eat more fats from good sources like animal fats, nuts, avocados, coconut oils, olive oils, and fish.
For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!