Muscle vs. Fat Weight: Can You Turn Fat Into Muscle?

Is it possible to turn unflattering body fat into lean impressive muscle mass? Let’s find out…

image showing ripped and shredded athlete in comparison to high body fat obese man

There are some myths that will never disappear away from fitness culture. One of those is a simple question: “Can you turn fat into muscle?”  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news bro, but we need to get this out of the way. No, you can’t. Not in a million crazy years of crunches, curls or burpees.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. What you can actually do is replace fat weight with lean and impressive muscle. Now that sounds like something we can all get on board with, right?

The fat we carry strapped to our body is natures unique way of storing energy. But because we live in a world where energy (food) is so easy to access, we often put away a little too much than we’d like.

This results in excess body fat that is neither healthy or flattering. So when most of us say “I want to lose weight”, what we really mean is, “I’d like to torch away this fluffy sheet and look shredded.”  

Fortunately, by using a healthy amount of commitment and know-how this is totally possible. By selecting the correct workouts and optimizing our diet we can peel back these layers of fat, exposing the spectacular muscle we’ve been toning and sculpting simultaneously in the process.

Out with the Old and in with the New

muscle vs fat ripped athlete

In order to see optimum results we have to constantly think; out with the old and in with the new. When it comes to losing fat and looking great, nothing beats this common ethos.

Just burning fat isn’t enough to build the body you’re imagining for yourself right now. If the musculature residing in hiding under your fluff isn’t well developed, you could end up with a “skinny” and unathletic look.

Nobody really pictures their future physique like that.

The beauty is that you don’t have to train like a world class athlete to become your shredded, desired self. Do we really need to train 20+ hours a week to look strong, defined, and dare we say it…sexy?

No, not at all.

Simply put, we just need to implement a touch of strength and cardio training into our weekly regime to see results. This will help to blitz through banked calories (body fat), whilst still doing everything to construct an impressive well-balanced physique.

Is muscle heavier than fat?

Bro, let’s put this bullsh*t myth firmly to bed. The broscience rumor that “muscle weighs more than fat” just doesn’t make sense.

Stop and think about it for a minute. Just as a dollar is a dollar, a pound is a pound. Nothing more, nothing less. So, 2 lb out muscle will weigh exactly the same as 2 lb of muscle.

Yes, it’s really that straightforward. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to look identical.

Fat is fluffy and almost gooey – just as you’d expect if you’ve ever prodded a pudgy belly. Muscle, on the other hand, is tighter, harder, and denser – go on, feel your guns.

So next time you hear this BS excuse for a dudes weight dismiss it. Debunk that sh*t Myth Busters style – with science!

Lighting the Torch: How to Burn Through Fat

Okay, the question you’re now probably asking yourself is; “Just how do you burn through fat?” Well, grab yourself a coffee, protein bar, or whatever gets you going and let us explain…

To put it plainly, we burn away calories in everything we do. Walking, talking, exercising, and even thinking with our brain requires fuel that we must get from somewhere.

We find this fuel in the food we eat and measure its energy density in calories. Without them, our whole body would shut down and ultimately stop working. Just imagine a car running out of gas and you’ll get the idea.

Our bodies know this and are smart enough to understand that these calories are ultimately our life force. So when we eat in surplus (consume extra than needed) we deposit any additional energy into our more than welcoming fat stores.

If we’re ever in a situation where we need more energy than we’ve recently eaten, we simply hit up our emergency supply for extra. Therefore by safely restricting calories and increasing activity, we can put ourselves into what is known as a calorie deficit.

safe calorie defecit diagram

Summary: To burn away excess fat, our calories going out must be greater than those coming in.

Replacing Fat with Lean Muscle

male athlete with minimal body fat and optimum lean muscle mass

As we have already mentioned the goal isn’t just to remove excess layers of fat. If that was the only case we could literally sit around all day and unproductively starve ourselves thin.

But who would want to do that? Not when we can have fun lifting weights, riding bikes, swimming, and cooking healthy tasty food perfect for cutting fat instead.

What we should be aiming to do is replace unflattering flabby fat with impressive lean muscle. Unveiling a healthy powerful body that we can be proud of and looks good at every occasion.

Mentally we will feel better than ever.

Being able to look in the mirror and see a strong and proud person looking back is awesome. It empowers the mind to smash through any goal, whether that be in our career, the gym, or elsewhere.

Physically we will be well equipped to take on the day as many activities become easier. Hauling stuff out of the trunk of our car will be effortless, tackling a big flight of stairs won’t get you in a sweat before important meetings, and in the bedroom, well, we’ll leave that to your imagination…

Embrace the Shredding Power of Lifting

To kickstart our change we must first find a way to stimulate muscle growth.

We can do this by regularly hitting the weight room and embracing the power of lifting. If you do this already then that’s awesome bro, if not, what’re you waiting for?

Weight training is one of the most accessible physical activities on the planet. All it takes is to grab a hold of something, defy gravity with your powerful strength, then drop it back to terra firma once you’re done. We’d say it’s an act that grows the soul, not just the biceps.

By challenging our muscles by say, pushing out a bench press, we create tiny micro-tears in the fibers. Then through adequate recovery (nutrition + rest), these torn fibers will grow back bigger, better, and stronger every time.

“Wait, aren’t we meant to be taking stuff away, not adding more to it?”  Yes, and in actual fact we are. By moving heavy objects with nothing but our raw primal energy, we’re effectively torching through fuel time and time again.

When we do this in a safe calorie deficit our bodies attack the fat stores to find this much-needed extra energy. Therefore we literally melt away unwanted fat and leave an empty space for thicker muscle fibers to move in.

Compounds Crush Calories

arnold schwarzenegger deadliftingBecause they employ multiple muscle groups compound lifts are the best type of weightlifting exercises to destroy calories. Rather than just moving one muscle, we have to handle tension through many, which is considerably hard work.

Let’s take a look at the deadlift. Whilst it might not fit the old curls for the girls bodybuilding mantrait’s awesome for building a whole body strong as hell physique. When we grab hold of the bar and raise it up high we do a tonne of things…

There’s movement in the ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders. Our core works overtime to keep our spine stable in alignment, and our arms and legs ignite to maintain momentum. Without exaggerating our entire body bands together to get that sucker from point A to B.

All this hard work needs to be fueled, right? So it’s easy to understand why big compound movements such as the deadlift and squat zap through calories like there’s no tomorrow. Yet, the fire doesn’t just stop once we set the bar back down.

For once we’re not banging on about DOMs after leg day. Instead, how about EPOC for a more enticing abbreviation? That’s;

  • Excess
  • Post-exercise
  • Oxygen
  • Consumption

This is an increased rate of oxygen we take in after strenuous activity. Simply put, it means we will still be fighting fat and annihilating calories even after we leave the gym. So rack ’em up and bend the bar right now, bro.

Tip: Compound movements typically torch through more calories than isolated exercises. Include them into your routine for a whole body workout and time efficient burn.

Cardio

athlete with minimal body fat using cardio to replace fat with muscle

Some people love it, others hate it. Yet wherever you stand on the debate, no one can deny that cardio does work for fat loss. Well, when used properly that is anyway.

Fortunately for those looking to get shredded, jogging on a treadmill isn’t the be all and end all (thank the lord Arnie). In fact, as we have mentioned, proper weight training alone alongside a great diet will get you far.

However, for truly optimized results cardio is a great tool to use and abuse. The most common types used for fat loss are:

  • LISS – Low-Intensity Steady State
  • HIIT – High-Intensity Interval Training

Long steady state cardio is training comfortably within our aerobic threshold for extended periods of time. Imagine a bodybuilder walking endlessly on a treadmill or a boxers 5-mile morning run. This is because exercising at this intensity burns through our recent food choices as fuel, before eventually moving onto the stubborn fat stores.

HIIT training is a whole other animal. Rather than plodding along at a steady pace, HIIT sessions require athletes to give almost 100% over short bursts of intense activity. Even though workouts may only last between 15-20 minutes, the body still blitzes through kcals like wildfire.

Both methods are effective but we’d say go for the HIIT option. It’s fun, challenging, and seriously time efficient. There’s also the added bonus of EPOC from HIIT that you don’t get from LISS. So, if we can still be burning energy way past workout time, we’re definitely all in.

Summary: Sharing facts and shedding fats

ripped athlete showing you can replace fat with muscle through hard work and diet

Hey, sorry if we totally debunked your dreams bro. But at the end of the day, SpotMeBro is all about sharing facts and shedding fat. Even if we have to tread on a few tubby toes and destroy some dangerous fitness myths on the way.

It’s important to remember the vital information about calorie deficits. There’s just no scientific evidence that shows eating in a surplus will allow you to burn body fat. Yes, you can get jacked to the nines and swole AF. But you won’t get single digit body fat this way.

The trick to master is getting the right amount of calories under the threshold to call upon our fat stores without damaging performance. Lifting heavy and unveiling muscle can be quite hard work, after all, so don’t overdo it.

Another key thing to note when looking to get shredded is that you must always keep protein consumption high. This way your muscles will have plenty of healthy building blocks to use, meaning they can stay strong and healthy as you work.

Finally, be consistent. Fighting fat effectively is a waiting game that rewards the player month after month. Believe in the process and don’t just forget about your goals because it’s the weekend. Live a clean lifestyle, lift heavy, and watch your dream body unveil itself before your eyes.

Final point: Whilst you can’t turn fat into muscle, you can replace muscle with fat. Work hard and unleash your powerful physique potential.

If you found this article interesting and would like to learn more about being your best-shredded self, check out:

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