So, you read online that muscle weighs more than fat. But exactly how much heavier is muscle compared to fat? Read more to find out!
How Much More Does Muscle Weigh Than Fat
As you might have read, muscle weighs more than fat. However, a pound of fat weighs the same as one pound of muscle. Density is the contrast between the two.
The scale of two objects that have the same weight can be vastly different (but they are still the same weight). One pound of marshmallows would take up far more room than one pound of concrete.
The same can be said for muscle and fat. One pound of muscle is hard, thick, and almost the same size as a tangerine, while one pound of fat is fluffy, bulky, and almost the size of a little grapefruit.
Does Muscle Weigh More Than Fat?
The short answer: Yes, to a very limited degree, muscle is heavier than fat. If you equate a bowl of muscle to a bowl of fat of equal size, the muscle will be heavier. However, that's just the most basic explanation. There's a lot more to it, especially how the body reacts to these two tissues: muscle and body fat.
Since muscle is denser than fat, it can weigh more. As previously said, if you keep a fistful of fat in your palm, it will have a lighter weight than a fistful of muscle since you're currently holding less compact tissue.
The catch: The scale number shouldn't matter because you'll reap more advantages to having more muscle compared to fat in your body.
Muscle vs. Fat
Pounds aren't always made equal. In reality, your overall body weight isn't a reliable predictor of how you'll appear or what health threats you'll encounter.
When one person has a higher fat percentage, and the other has more muscle, these two people with the same weight will look drastically different. Having an extra 20lbs of muscle will make you look sculpted and firm. However, an additional 20lbs of fat would seem less toned and softer.
There is also a difference of uses between muscle and fat. The latter (fat) acts as a heat trapper and helps in insulating the body. While the former (muscle) is a metabolism booster. It means your body will burn more calories while resting when you have more muscle.
The Percentages of Muscle and Fat in the Body
Researchers discovered that those with a greater proportion of body fat, regardless of their BMI (body mass index) or weight, had a higher average mortality risk.
Fat raises the risk of contracting illnesses like asthma, diabetes, hypertension, and heart failure. This fact suggests that even those underweight but have a low muscle-to-fat ratio are more likely to develop diseases related to obesity.
It's important to maintain a low body fat percentage to avoid such risky conditions. However, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to put on a lot of muscle mass. Though muscle is never bad, and there is no such thing as too much of it, it's more than okay to set realistic goals when it comes to muscle.
Gaining Muscle and Losing Fat in a Healthy Way
Strength training is the most effective way to gain muscle and lose fat. It has been proven to be prominently more effective if you only have a short time to work out (AKA workout harder & faster). Additionally, you can change your rest between every exercise to get additional benefits in cardio from your workout.
It is also suggested to complete a full-body workout at least twice every week, ensuring that you focus on form and work hard on every set. The last one or two repetitions should be almost difficult to complete while still maintaining your form.
If you're looking to lose weight and develop muscle, make sure your rest between sets is short (less than a minute) to maintain the sweat your body produces.
Try to combine exercises (supersets & circuits). You can do three exercises for the upper body and another three for the lower body. Do ten repetitions and three sets per exercise, for example. You can add more reps and sets for progression.
Need a program to follow? Find a trainer on WeStrive.
Body Composition Measurement
According to research, having high body fat has been linked to major health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
It's a smart idea to check with the doctor to see if your body composition is appropriate for your health objectives. Remember that everybody is unique and no two bodies are the same.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Your BMI is the most widely used measurement for determining what constitutes a "balanced" body composition. Given the difference between any two bodies, determining the optimal number for every individual is difficult.
It's one reason others criticized the BMI calculator made by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). It only considers height and weight instead of including frame size or muscles. It doesn't let you know the amount of muscle mass or fat your body has.
Example of BMI's faults: In High School we had these two extremely athletic twins that tested as "obese" because they had so much muscle that the BMI categorized them as out of shape for the height-to-weight difference.
If your weight falls between 18.5 and 24.9 pounds of the range, doctors consider you to be in the "standard" weight range, depending on your height.
Be that as it may, if you've been exercising recently and have firm and sculptured muscles, you can expect those additional pounds of muscle to put you closer to the "obese" or "overweight" class in the world of BMI.
Waist-to-Hip Ratio (WHR)
The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) approach is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), and it could be more precise than the BMI. An analysis of 15,000 people published in 2015 showed that having a high WHR was related to high mortality risk, despite participants having a "normal" BMI.
You'll need measuring tape to determine your WHR. Measure across the narrowest part of your waist, then the widest area of your hips and buttocks. Afterward, divide the circumference of the waist by those of your hips. WHO states that the WHR for men is 0.85 or less, and women are 0.9 or less.
Body Fat Percentage
You can purchase a body fat scale if you prefer to find out your results in the privacy of your own home. Another option is visiting the gym and having a professional use a caliper to weigh you - which has been performed by these professionals for the last fifty-ish years.
A portable body fat analyzer could be available at your gym. It resembles a mini-computer and operates by passing a current through the body (perfectly harmless).
In other words, if your fat percentage is higher, the signal flows slower. The signal increases with less fat. If you try this one out, keep in mind that the results can differ based on the device's accuracy and your hydration for that day.
Don't stress about the scale if you have a consistent workout schedule and healthy eating patterns. Test a new unit of measuring if you've just improved your workout/eating regimen and are worried you're not losing fat quickly enough.
You're potentially shedding body fat and developing muscle if your T-shirts are tight on your arms and your jeans are loose around the hips.
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About the Author:
Cory McKane is the CEO/Founder of WeStrive - a platform for personal trainers to manage & grow their personal training business. He enjoys working out and spending time working with trainers on WeStrive on how to manage/grow their business.