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Muscle Weighs More Than Fat, Right?

The Truth Behind Why Weight Loss May Not Get You Into a Smaller Jean Size

It’s that time of year again when we pull out the old faithful jeans as the weather gets crisp. With anticipation you expect the usual wrestling match but you resign to just put them on. Then low and behold,  they slip on easily, almost too easy. As your thoughts wonder how is this possible, when you just got off the scale and it hadn’t budged. According to the scale, you should be laying on the bed tugging vigorously to get them to your waist.  It is unfathomable that they are actually zipping and buttoning with ease and low and behold you may even need a belt.  How does this happen?

Is there ever a time when this kind of scenario has played out in your closet or bedroom?  Maybe you have started lifting weights because you were tired of spending hours on the treadmill or it is just too cold to run outside right now.  Or it could be that your doctor may have advised you that you need to lift weights because you are in danger of developing osteoporosis, or possibly you are tired of feeling flabby and just want to tone up.  

But how has the scale not moved,  doesn’t muscle weigh more than fat? A misconception that you may have heard throughout your life even going back to basic measurement in school where you were taught a pound of anything is the same whether it is a pound of feathers or a pound of metal, a pound is a pound.  So, a pound of muscle is the same weight on the scale as a pound of fat.  The difference between fat and muscle is the density.  A pound of muscle is much more dense than fat, scientists estimate that muscle occupies 22% less space than fat.  That is why your butt may occupy less space in your jeans when you are building muscle mass.  

The science behind building muscle is clear, lifting heavier weights, while feeding yourself a balanced protein dense diet.  Where most fail when building muscle, is the lack of follow through with the nutrition and that is why the urban legend developed that muscle weighs more than fat.  When it comes to women the common belief is that they get bulky if  they lift weights.  However the excess bulk is excess water weight due to improper nutrition.  

Although the common belief that you exercise so you can eat what you want is only partially true.  Eating what you want all the time is not an option, even for the highly trained professional or Olympic Athletes, eating a bad diet can only lead to injury and body break down in the long run. It is much like putting watered down gas into your gas tank, it may run for a short amount of time however it eventually just stops because it is not getting the full strength gas it needs to run properly.  

If you continue to use the traditional methods of measuring such as only a scale,  you will never see the results of muscle growth and fat loss.  The truth behind fat loss is the understanding that traditional methods of weight loss fail to take into true consideration the need to build and maintain muscle with a proper plan, which includes exercise as well as nutrition.  Sure you can lose weight on a traditional weight loss plan, there is no denying that weight loss can occur when you change your eating habits by reducing your calories.  However if you only reduce your calories and continue to eat a nutritionally unbalanced diet, and fail to incorporate a proper weight lifting program, the loss of weight will be the loss of muscle and sometimes even bone.  That is what is called the flabby affect, although you may weigh less your skin will sag and your pant size may only reduce minimally.  And when you are “done” with this weight loss plan, you give yourself permission to go back to eating as you had in the past, because you met your goal.

A 1999 study by the American College of Nutrition discovered a true flaw in the weight loss model.  The study was conducted on two groups of obese individuals both groups were put on reduced calorie plans.  However each group was given different exercise regimens, one was aerobically based while the other exercise plan was weight or resistance based.  At the end of the study the aerobics group lost more “weight” on the scale however it was found the weight that was lost was muscle.  And the group that was on the weight resistance program lost all fat and was able to maintain their muscle mass on their program.  And the true benefit for the 2nd group was an increase in their resting metabolic rate, increasing their overall metabolism.

What does this mean when it comes to trying on those jeans? When it comes to slipping on those jeans with ease;  building muscle, while also losing fat will make going into your closet in the future so much easier.  Besides the ease of putting on those smaller jeans, just think about how a fat loss lifestyle can dramatically improve your health!

Steve October 15, 2012 at 10:36 AM
Great article Jennifer, More people need to realise it is the composition more than the scales that count. You could weigh the same after 3 months of training, but have lost 6% body fat and increased lean muscle mass which will raise metabolism and result in greatly improved health and well-being. Steve www.thestrengthacademy.com
Sandra October 19, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Very True.. The article and you Steve ! I have been training now for 5 months taking a health shake before and after my workouts to help me build that lean muscle mass ! My overall wieght hasn't changed much..but my body strength, endurance and energy levels are thru the roof ! you should take a look at this site. www.defitavie.bodybyvi.com I'm taking a kit specialy made for people wanting to get really fit ! Since i've combined this to my workouts, my results are phenominal !

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