Friday, 27 March 2015

Can you turn Fat into Muscle?

Turn your Fat Into Muscle!!”

“Lose 20 Pounds in Just Four Weeks”

“The Best Exercise to Tone your Body”

We have all heard the headlines. For anyone who has been trying to shed a few pounds of fat, turning fat into muscle sounds like the ideal situation. Unfortunately, like most things that sounds too good to be true, it is. But there is a small element of truth to what can take place. Muscle and fat are two completely different tissues, so it is 100% impossible for one to magically turn into the other. With that being said when the proper training and nutritional needs are met it is possible to simultaneously build muscle and burn fat.

Strength is the Key

Even if your goal is to lower your body fat I recommend a workout routine that includes strength training. Muscle building may seem counter-intuitive for someone who wants to lose fat but it actually helps more than you would think. Your body is constantly burning calories, even when you are sleeping, or doing nothing. Every pound of muscle will burn around 6 calories per day to sustain itself. This may not sound like a lot but it can add up over time. In addition to that, an intense strength training session can burn somewhere in the neighborhood of 300-400 calories per hour.

Ditch the Scale
Knowing your weight can be a great way to track progress but it does come with a fair share of drawbacks. First of all, water weight, fecal matter and other fluids can add a significant amount of variance to your scale weight. A single liter of water weighs over 2 pounds. It is not uncommon of having weight shifts of 5-7 pounds from first thing in the morning to later in the evening. Add to that, the fact that muscle is a much more dense tissue than fat, the scale weight may be going up but the fat weight is actually going down. If you are going to weigh yourself, it is best to do it first thing in the morning after you have gone to the bathroom but before you have ate or drank anything.

Lets use an Example

To illustrate my point of how the scale can be quite deceiving lets use an example. Let's say there is a man who weighs 200 pounds with 20% body (which is quite average). That means this person has 160 pounds of fat-free mass and 40 pounds of fat. If this person gains 10 pounds of muscle while losing 10 pounds of fat the scale weight will not have changed. But this person will have 170 of fat-free mass and 30 pounds of fat which is a body fat percentage of 15%. This person will look much different and will be in much better shape, but yet the scale would not have changed.

To sum things up, if improved body composition is your goal, I think the best way to do it is focus on strength. Remember that improvements may not happen over night, it does take time, and don't get discouraged by the number on the scale.

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