Does Muscle Weigh More Than Fat?
This is a question that comes up especially when we’re strength training but we are not gaining a few pounds or seeing any positive results. The answer that most of us often fall on is that we are building muscle and muscle weighs more than fat. Well, I am here to dispel this myth and provide a few details on why building muscle is beneficial, how it relates to fat, and why the scale seems to move in the wrong direction when we first begin a fitness program.
A pound is a pound! Have you ever heard the riddle, “What weighs more a pound of bricks or a pound of feathers?” Just like the answer to the riddle, a pound ofmuscle is the same as a pound offat. The difference between the two is that muscle looks much better because it is more dense, meaning it takes up less space than fat. This is why when we start to build muscle, we feel better and our clothes fit nicer, but we may not see a change on the scale.
It is imperative when working to lose weight, to get a body composition scale. It is better to keep track of the entire picture. This involves tracking changes in weight, muscle, and fat. Weight alone tells me nothing. If I have lost fat and gained muscle, I am quite happy, regardless of the pounds lost. However, if I lose muscle, even if I lost weight at the same time, I do not call the week a success. Losing muscle is not good over the long term. Muscle usually burns more calories than fat and is important as we try to improve our metabolism. Generally, one pound of our muscles burns 6 calories a day. A pound offat only burns 2 calories a day. As you can see, building muscle is vital to weight loss and weight loss maintenance and should be the focus of any fitness or diet regimen.
Now that you understand the benefits of muscle and how it relates to fat, it’s essential to understand the REAL reason why we see an increase in weight when we begin strength training. A person beginning a new program will often feel sore afterward. This can be the result of small tears in the muscle tissue. During the repair process, muscles tissue can become inflamed and slightly swollen by fluid retention, resulting in a 3-4 pound weight gain. Understanding the reason behind this temporary weight gain will help reduce frustration and hopefully keep you focused on your goal even when you feel the pounds are going in the wrong direction.
So the question now remains, “How do I build muscle and reduce fat?” Well, exercise programs that focus on aerobic training and strength building are key. There are a variety of programs available based on individual comfort levels. P90X is a program that involves free weights and/or resistance. However, weights are not always necessary. There are programs, such as Insanity, where you use your own body weight to build strength. There is a program out there for everyone. You just need to work to find the one that works best for you.