It's fair to say fitness comes with its fair share of myths. Everything in life does, but when something is as diverse as your health, it's bound to have a few white lies and old wives tales thrown into the mix. Most of it is harmless, but sometimes, it can really be misleading. We're here to help cut that out. One of these myths is that with the right workout, you can turn your excess fat into muscle mass. Sadly, we have bad news. That is just not the case.

Muscle tissue and fat tissue are made up entirely differently. The two have completely different purposes and are made completely individually. They have very few parallels. You need to know that before you start anything. It's good to start with the basics:

Fat is excess energy stored in your body by consuming more calories than you need. Muscle mass is built through your body using calories to build tissue. That’s the very barebones explanation, and why turning fat into muscle is just bizarre.

Close up of weights

Fat needs a calorie deficit

So, as we've brushed over, to lose fat, you need to be burning calories. Just fewer than you need to maintain your current weight, specifically. That's one of the fundamentals of weight loss. Ultimately, to lose weight, you need to be having an overall calorie deficit of around 200-500 calories per day, ideally through exercise and through diet.

It’s sometimes easier said than done we know but avoiding high-calorie foods is the best way to go about it. Eating smaller portions where needed and even less often can help too. It really depends on your starting point and what eating habits you have.

Muscle needs Calorie Surplus

The next thing to look at with the myth of turning fat into muscle is how you actually build muscle. Building muscle works on a completely different mechanic to fat cutting. You need to be consuming more calories than your daily needs so that your body has the material to build.

To do that, you need to be consuming a lot of good foods like healthy fats, carbs and protein. The issue is that a lot of these things make burning fat harder. That's where this myth comes unstuck.

 

The best way to do it.

Close up of woman lifting dumbbells

If you’re really wanting to cut fat and build muscle, you’re going to have to set your sights a little differently. More specifically, one goal at a time. That’s the only way this can really work. The most common way to do it is by cutting fat and then building muscle so that you can see the fruits of your work and the progress you made; that’s all well and good.

Another great way to go about doing it though is to build muscle first. As you eat more, you may increase your weight and build a little fat while your building muscle, but you're of course, building muscle mass. That sounds obvious but stick with us.

When you have this increased muscle mass, you’re raising your resting energy expenditure. That means you’re going to burn more calories in your everyday life, and it will make burning fat a lot easier in the long run. On top of that still, you have the afterburn effect. When you finish working out, your body continues to burn calories to get you back to your resting heart rate and burns more calories as you build up muscle. Talk about efficient right?

 

Overall, that's the best way to do it. Turning fat into muscle is a myth. Tissue doesn't just transform, and there's no such life hack. That doesn't mean you should lose motivation, though. Plan your workout and your diet in the right way, and you'll see your results, in the long run, one step at a time!

 

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