Alot of times, when I start having a conversation about fitness with a non trainer, I'll often hear about this...
"My friend knows a guy who's brother says he turned all his fat into muscle...
The other day I got an email from a subscriber to building muscle 101 asking how he could turn his fat into muscle.
I thought to myself, hmm..."This phrase has been around for as long as I can remember", in fact, I remember hearing this phrase as a little kid when my Aunt described how her son turned his fat into muscle.
The term turn fat into muscle has been used to describe how overweight, hopeful trainers can magically turn 50 pounds of fat into 50 pounds of muscle.
Somehow, somewhere, the phrase, turn fat into muscle has been associated with people losing fat and body weight and adding quality muscle mass.
I think this stems for the fact that when an overweight person loses body fat and builds/ tones the muscles, people tend to think that somehow, the fat magically turned itself into muscle where the fat used to be.
However, it has been misconstrued with the fact that 1) Everyone must lose fat first, and 2) Everyone must slowly add muscle mass.
I'm sure if your reading this page now, you've heard the term and want to know if it's true. Well, I can honestly say, that you cannot magically turn fat into muscle. It's physically not possible. If this was possible, you could probably kiss the obesity problem good bye.
Anyways, fat and muscle are two totally different tissues. At one end of the spectrum you have fat which is made up of fatty tissue (which is a non working tissue and can't be flexed) and you have muscle (which is a working tissue and can be flexed), which is made up of lean tissues. One cannot be turned into the other.
The next time you look into the refrigerator, take a look at the pound of butter you have in the butter dish and try and imagine that being one pound of lean sirloin steak. Do you think it's possible for that pound of butter to turn into a pound of lean sirloin steak? It's physically not possible. The fat in the butter doesn't have the necessary physical properties to turn itself into a lean tissue. Fat stays fat and lean tissue stays lean tissue.
I'm sure you've also heard the phrase All that muscle turned into fat. Well, muscle cannot be turned into fat and it's a term, like turning muscle into fat, that's been used by folks who don't understand the process of building muscle. I'm not saying that's bad, but it's a misinformed term. Both terms are not physically possible to do.
Let's take a look closer look at the term turning fat into muscle. First, we know you can't physically turn fat into something it's not. The only thing that builds and repairs muscle is it's main builder, which is protein. Protein is an essential component for building and repairing muscle. The only way to get more protein is from your dietary sources. Think of it this way. Once food is digested, it is taken apart by enzymes to form sub units called amino acids. In this form, they can enter the cells where other enzymes put them back together as new proteins needed to build and repair tissues.
Let's take a closer look at protein's job description:
Protein is necessary for the maintenance and growth of body tissue such as muscle (build muscle);
Protein helps regulate hormone secretion;
Protein helps maintain the body's water balance;
Protein helps protect against disease;
Protein assists in transporting nutrients in and out of cells;
Protein can be used as an energy source
Fat on the other hand has a totally different job than protein. One of those jobs does not involve building muscle. Let's take a look at fat's job description in the body.
Fats help insulate the internal organs from injury and cold;
Fats give some protective padding for your bones and internal organs;
Fats facilitate oxygen transport, and are required for hormone production;
Fats can be used as an energy source - Aerobic activity;
Fats aid in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K
Nowhere in this description does it say, help build and repair muscle tissue. Fat and protein are two separate macro nutrients and have two separate functions in the body.
The process of losing fat and building muscle are two separate phases. You can either gain or lose fat. You can also only gain or lose muscle. These are two parallel lines and under no circumstance do they ever cross. Under no circumstances can one change into the other.
Now, the closest you can possible come to turning fat into muscle is by using fat as an energy source in order to do some extended periods of cardio and/or weight training. That's it, fat can be used as an energy source to help build endurance, but that's the extent of it's muscle building effects.
For an overweight person to burn fat and build muscle, they have to do the following:
1) Cut down on the amount of overall calories ingested. By creating a calorie surplus, they are more likely to lose weight.
2) Incorporate a cardio and weight training program thats conducive to fat burning.
Once the desired amount of fat has been lost, then...
1) Slowly increase the amounts of calories ingested in order to start the muscle building process.
2) Incorporate a weight training programs thats conducive to building strength and muscle.
There you have it. This is the basic fat loss/muscle building process.
So now you know. It is physically impossible to turn fat into muscle and vice versa. If you want to find out how to burn fat and maintain muscle, go to this page here:
All the best,
As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.
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