Ready for a doozy? You can’t turn fat into muscle!
That’s because on a cellular level, fat and muscle are two completely different tissues. While you can lose fat and lose muscle and gain fat and gain muscle, one cannot differentiate into the other.
Or, in other words: if you want to gain muscle, you can.
However, gaining muscle occurs through a process much different than exercising fat until it becomes muscle, as many people believe.
Muscle growth happens through a process of repetetics conditioning: as a muscle is continually stimulated (via exercise or other activity), muscle fibers increase first in strength and then in size.
What Happens to Fat and Muscle?
Fat growth- on the other hand- occurs when calorie and/or macronutrient composition is greater than physiological need: fat cells increase first in size, and then in number.
Muscle loss (muscle atrophy) occurs when a muscle is no longer used to its former degree.
As muscle is a highly metabolic tissue, the body will not sustain it unless it is used regularly- the old “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it!” adage holds true here.
Fat loss happens when the body is operating in a Caloric deficit, burning stored fat for energy.
Because you cannot have anabolism (growth) and catabolism (loss) occur in tandem to any high degree, it’s very difficult to both gain muscle and lose fat at the same time.
You can, however, preserve muscle to a higher degree during the weight loss process by accounting for both calories and macronutrient composition (rather than just focusing on one or the other).
This should be a focus in weight loss in order to preserve basal metabolism during the weight loss process.
Morgan Medeiros is a certified nutritionist, holding a both a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Morgan completed her undergraduate education at Central Washington University, and her graduate education at Northeastern University. During her time as a graduate student, Morgan focused her area of expertise in health education, weight management, and behavioral change. Morgan has experience working in areas of nutritional neuroscience and disease prevention, obesity prevention, and weight loss. Morgan also works in areas of nutritional analysis and menu labeling for restaurants, where she is able to creatively bridge her interest in food culture and health education. In her free time, Morgan enjoys traveling, reading, writing, running, and spending time with her family and friends (including- most importantly- her dog, Clyde).