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Body Fat and Muscle

Fat and Muscle What You Should Know

A lot of people believe that muscle can turn into fat, or fat can turn into muscle. This opinion is often one of the untrained athletes. They will see a person who used to be fat and out of shape reduce their body fat levels and increases their muscle mass and believes that the fat this person once had has turned into muscle.

Alternatively, you may see a guy who use to be muscular but has lost the motivation to train on a consistent basis and therefore has gained a bit of weight. The obvious assumption is to think that his hard-earned muscle has suddenly turned into fat.

Is this really true? Does muscle turn into fat once we stop training?

Does Muscle Really Turn Into Fat?

NO! Of course, it doesn’t. The thought of muscle turning into fat is laughable. I mean seriously, what people are constantly spreading this myth around the gyms? I can take a good guess. However, I won’t criticize people for thinking this because in a way I can understand it.

If you see a guy with a tremendous amount of muscle mass who suddenly gains weight and loses muscle definition the most simple explanation is that his muscle turned into fat. This, however, is not true. Muscle cannot turn into fat nor can fat turn into muscle.

Before and After Fat Loss

Image Courtesy Crazy Bulk Website

Why Muscle Cannot Turn Into Fat

It’s pretty simple. Muscles cannot turn into fat because muscle and fat are two entirely different types of body tissue. Muscle tissue and fat also have entirely different cell structures. The fact that they are so different makes it impossible for one to turn into another.

So Why Do Muscular People Always End Up Overweight When They Stop Training?

Athletes or bodybuilders who have built up a significant amount of muscle mass over the years will often gain weight when they stop training. Not all of them but some of them. Did their muscle turn into fat? No. Muscle cannot turn into fat, it’s simply not possible. Here’s why muscular people, athletes, or bodybuilders often end up looking overweight or fat.

When an individual train to build muscle they are sending signals to the muscle to grow bigger and stronger. Calorie intake is increased to help support muscle growth as is protein intake. Additional calories are used to promote muscle growth. When you stop training your calorie intake does not need to be as high as it was when you were training.

People often neglect this and will consume the same number of calories each day as they did when training to build muscle. Since your body no longer needs these additional calories guess what happens? That’s right, it gets stored as fat and you put on weight.

If training and diet are neglected your muscles will shrink and you will put on weight. This is the top reason why muscular people put on fat when they stop training. It is not because their muscle turns to fat, it’s because they eat too much when they stop training. If you stop training then you need to reassess your calorie intake for each day. Lower your calories and find your maintenance level to ensure you don’t gain too much fat.

So How Do Fat People Put On Muscle?

Now you know the real reason muscular people often end up putting on weight and body fat, you are probably wondering how fat people look like they have turned fat into muscle. Again, turning fat into muscle is not possible as they are two different tissues. However, the reason people think this is simply because the fat person has lost a lot of weight. Two things happen when someone loses a lot of weight. For one, the person appears a lot fitter and healthier. Also, when a fat person loses a lot of weight their muscle definition begins to reveal itself, creating the illusion of muscle growth.

Depending upon where you lose fat, your muscles are likely to become a lot more visible due to the layer of fat around them being removed. People who have no knowledge of bodybuilding or weight loss will jump to the conclusion that this person has turned his fat into muscle.

Not true. Your diet and exercise regime is your number one tools when it comes to achieving the physique you want. You cannot turn muscle into fat and you sure as hell cannot turn fat into muscle. The only way to create this illusion is through your training and diet. Work hard in the gym, be consistent and discipline yourself to stick to a solid diet and you have every chance of achieving a fantastic physique.

Most people are looking for a muscle-building program that will help them gain muscle not fat. In truth, there are no set weight training routines that will allow you to gain muscle not fat. When it comes to gaining muscle without fat, the most important factor will be your diet.

Let’s go into more detail on how you can gain muscle without putting on too much fat

Gain Muscle Not Fat

Is it possible to gain muscle and not fat? In all honesty, it’s extremely hard for you to gain muscle without putting on any fat unless you are a complete beginner with very little experience in weight training.

Beginners can often lose fat and build muscle at the same time during the early months of their training but this will not last forever. So what if you are not a complete beginner, can you gain muscle without the fat? In theory no but in reality, it’s definitely possible.

If you think about it, you should not be able to gain muscle without fat. To put on muscle mass you need to be eating more calories (calorie surplus). This means you eating over your body’s maintenance level of calories each day, and should result in weight gain. Although these additional calories are needed to gain muscle you are still eating in a calorie surplus and your body will be looking to store any calories it doesn’t need as fat.

Veronica Before and After

To prevent this from happening you will have to be pretty much spot on with your calorie intake each and every day. However, if you think about it, the bigger you get (muscle wise) the more fat/mass your body will naturally have to help protect internal organs and muscles. In my opinion, you can easily gain muscle without looking like you have gained any fat.

Let us take a look at how:

Clean Diet

In order to minimize fat while gaining muscle, you should clean your diet up and cut down on the additional calories you consume. A lot of people make the mistake of eating too much food when trying to gain muscle. They hear phrases such as ‘to get big you need to eat big’ and immediately think they need to be consuming thousands and thousands of calories a day to gain muscle. This is not the case.

Your body requires around 500 calories above its maintenance level to build muscle. If you taking in way more than this then you should expect to gain a lot of fat as well as muscle. Eating in a sensible way like this is often referred to as clean bulking as you only take in the required amount of calories to help you gain muscle. Sure you can take in more but this is not likely to help you progress any quicker in your training.

Keep track of your weight

To gain muscle not fat, you should keep a close eye on your weight each week. Weigh yourself once a week first thing in the morning. Ensure you weigh yourself on the same day, same place and same time every week for more accurate results. If you’re gaining more than 1.5 pounds a week then the chances are you’re putting on fat as well as muscle.

On average try to put on 0.5-1 pounds a week

Your weight can fluctuate quite a bit so it may be a good idea to calculate your progress in 4-week cycles. For example, if after 4 weeks you have managed to put on around 4 pounds then its safe to say you are minimizing fat gain as much as possible. If you’ve put on 8-10 pounds then it’s safe to say a fair amount of that weight is fat.

Add cardio to your routine

Everyone should incorporate some form of cardio into their routines whether they are looking to build muscle or lose weight. Cardio brings with it a whole host of benefits for both your body and your health so its well worth adding it into your routine. After all, who wants to gain muscle but at the same find it hard work jogging to the end of the road?

Cardio Exercises

Cardio can also be used in your routine to allow you to eat more in your diet and can help you recover faster between weight training workouts. If you are new to cardio follow the information provided on cardio for beginners to help you get started or check out the cardio section of the site for more detailed information on cardio routines you can perform.

Get yourself on an effective weight training routine

Of course, to gain the muscle in the first place you will need an effective weight training routine that will allow you to build muscle and progress. Pick a routine on our page of weight training routines that build muscle to help get you started if you do not already have a set routine in place. Allow sufficient time between your workouts to allow your muscles to fully recover and avoid overtraining.

Hit each muscle group hard once a week and switch your reps up between the 5-8 rep range and 8-12 rep range when required. Push yourself to add more weight or perform more reps each workout. This is known as progressive overload. Always look to progress in your training if you can. This is how muscle is built. Muscle is not built by lifting the same weight or performing the same number of reps for months on end.

How to Lose Fat Build Muscle

Can you lose fat and build muscle?

The jury is certainly out on this one. Experts will say it’s possible, others will say its simply impossible to lose fat and build muscle at the same time. The thing we need to remember is that most experts are not athletes. They simply look at the science and make a judgment without actually putting it into practice. People who actually attempt to lose fat and build muscle are the real experts and I can tell you that losing fat and building muscle is certainly possible.

Lose Fat Build Muscle

Yes, it is possible to lose fat and build muscle but there are a few problems we face when trying to do so. The first problem is that we are trying to achieve two totally opposite goals. To lose fat you need to be eating in a calorie deficit whereas to build muscle you need to be eating a calorie surplus. To do both probably seems impossible but with a little effort, good nutrition and a good training routine you will be able to lose fat and build muscle at the same time.

This leads us to the next problem. Your training and diet has to be extremely good for your body to even have a chance of losing fat and building muscle at the same time. Now, even if your diet and training is spot on the progress you make is going to be painfully slow. After all, you are trying to achieve two opposite goals (fat loss and muscle growth).

To lose fat and build muscle at the same time, the best results will be experienced by overweight beginners or out-of-shape athletes coming back from a long layoff from training. When I mention overweight beginners, preferably these beginners should have no previous experience in weight training.

How To Do It

If you want to attempt to lose fat and build muscle at the same time then there are a couple of ways to do it. The first is aimed more toward overweight beginners.

High Protein and Deficit Calories. This method involves consuming a calorie deficit and a high-protein diet in an attempt to lose fat and build muscle. The number of calories you consume should be anywhere between 200-500 calories under your body’s maintenance level and protein intake should be between 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. During your first week, I would recommend cutting your calories slowly so try and eat around 200 calories under your maintenance level.

Gradually bump this up once you stop losing weight. If you lose weight by only eating 200 calories under your maintenance level then keep doing so until you stall. The more calories you can consume and still lose weight the better as these will be used to build muscle and improve strength. The stronger you are the more muscle you will have.

Hit your protein requirements of 1-1.5 grams per pound of body weight by the consumption of high-protein foods. The majority of your diet should be made up of moderate carbs and low fats. Ensure you have a weight training routine that builds muscle and you will have a great chance of losing fat and building muscle.

Cycling Your Diet

This second method involves eating a calorie deficit on your rest days and eating a calorie surplus on your weight training days. Your diet should be similar to the above. High protein, moderate carbs, and low fats. The idea here is to put your body in fat-burning mode on your rest days and then into an anabolic and muscle-building state on weight training days. Your extra calories on your weight training days should come from carbohydrates and protein and you should consume between 300-500 additional calories.

Final Verdict

If you want to attempt to lose fat and build muscle then go ahead but be warned that results can be frustrating and slow. Ideally, you should choose one goal and work hard to achieve it. Either build muscle or lose weight. It’s safe to say that the best results will be seen if you focus on one goal. If your looking to build muscle but are worried about getting fat then focus on consuming a calorie surplus of up to 500 calories.

There’s no need to eat additional calories in an attempt to build more muscle as you will simply get fat. Once you have put on enough weight then you can lose fat and attempt to maintain muscle while cutting. A similar thing can be said for losing fat. If you focus on maintaining a calorie deficit all the time then you will lose fat at a much quicker rate. Once you have lost the fat then you can try and build muscle.


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