Muscle vs. Fat

One of the most common struggles and confusions I find that my clients have run into in their transformational timeline or past weight loss goals has to do with understanding the difference between muscle and fat.

Read on to find some great info to help you better understand weight, fat, muscle, and how you should look at the two.

Fat vs. Muscle – The Real Difference

"A pound of fat weighs one pound. A pound of muscle weighs one pound! Muscle is more dense than fat.

Denser materials take up less space. This means a specific amount of muscle will occupy less physical space than the same quantity of fat.

It is this fact that makes the difference in the photos. The less body fat you have the more definition you will have round your muscles; creating a toned physique.

Despite what you may have heard, it is not possible to convert fat to muscle; or muscle to fat.

If you do not exercise your muscles will not grow and, because they are not being used, they will actually decrease in size. This will slow your metabolism and increase your fat stores.

In contrast exercise burns calories and; if you do not consume enough calories, the excess fat in your body is turned to energy to fuel your muscles; thus depleting your fat stores.

The result is just as in the image, fat has been burned and muscle built, but you should weigh the same; when muscle wins the battle of fat vs. muscle you look slimmer and fitter.

The only way that muscle can weigh more than fat is if you have a piece of muscle which takes up the same volume of space as a piece of fat. While this may be your eventual goal; it does not mean that muscle weighs more than fat. It just means you have a higher muscle content than you previously did and a lower fat content; which is healthy."


Understanding "the scale"

Another large misconception is that when you start a new program, feel as though your adherence is good and you cannot seem to weigh less "on the scale". Unfortunately, the scale is not a perfect measure of progress, not even close. Yes for overall weight loss and specifically more relevant to those who have more to lose, but not as relevant to those of us with 10-20lbs to lose.

Take a look at some of these images below to understand that sometimes "weight loss" isn't visible on a scale, but what is more important is how you feel, how you look and how your clothes fit.

It is completely possible to be losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time. Meaning that yes, you can lose 5lbs and gain 5lbs simultaneously and your scale may read the same weight for multiple days in a row or even weeks! It is very important to understand the alternative ways to measure progress and to not get caught up in the "pounds" cyclical thinking. 

Beside are some great examples of WHY "weight" may not be the best example of progress for you, or anyone! See how individuals can actually weigh MORE and look thinner. Use these photos as a reference the next time you get frustrated at a stalemate with the scale. Consider that maybe you aren't stuck after all!