I’m sure you’ve heard this myth before: does muscle really weight more than fat?
Many people fall victim to this belief thinking that the muscle they gain is much heavier than the fat they have on their body.
Perhaps this is due to you hitting a plateau, stalled at the same weight for several weeks. You begin to think that maybe you’re building muscle while losing fat.
Therefore, since muscle weighs more than fat, it makes sense that the scale is staying the same.
So, is this actually true? Can you build muscle while burning off fat? Is this why you’re in a so-called plateau?
Does Muscle Really Weigh More Than Fat?
Let’s first take a look at the facts:
Muscle definitely has a greater density than fat. What this means is that a 5-pound slab of muscle is going to take up less space than a 5 pound blob of body fat.
Another interesting fact is that fat floats while muscle sinks. This is due to the density of muscle.
So the simple, easy answer is that your plateau may very well be caused by you losing fat while putting on a little bit of muscle.
However, this process isn’t really that simple…
For one, you need to make sure that you’re actually getting stronger and progressing in your workout sessions. If you’re not making any progress, then your body has no reason to build dense muscle.
You also need to understand that fitness plateaus are very common. The more you exercise, the more you’ll hit plateaus.
Even when you’re eating right and gaining strength, you may find yourself at the same weight every time you step on the scale.
I wouldn’t be concerned about this unless you haven’t made any progress for 2 weeks. If after 2 weeks your weight is exactly the same, then it’s time to make an adjustment to your diet.
And that brings me to the very important topic of diet: if your diet is wack, don’t expect results.
Making sure you are eating the right foods and giving yourself the proper nutrients is how to not be skinny fat.
Your weight can fluctuate for any number of reasons. For example, maybe you haven’t pooped today. That could very well be an additional pound or two.
There have been days where I weighed 2-3 pounds less after taking a wonderful poop followed up by a post-poop pee. These are details that you might not be thinking about.
Are you weighing yourself in the morning at the same time everyday? This is another key factor. It’s a great habit to poop and pee in the morning followed by a weigh-in.
Another factor is the amount of water you have in your system. Your water weight can fluctuate daily. I will sometimes be 5 pounds heavier at night when I go to bed. This is due to my body being bloated and full of water.
It happens. Don’t be alarmed.
A day or two of good, clean diet with a lot of water intake will flush your body and get you back to your normal weight. Nothing to truly worry about.
Because muscle is more dense than body fat, you may be getting slightly slimmer while adding a slight amount of muscle.
The only way to be sure that this is happening is through body measurements. If your waist has gone from a size 34 to a size 33, and you still weigh the same, then you should celebrate. You have officially burned fat while gaining muscle.
A Pound Is A Pound Is A Pound.
Addressing the issue head-on: a pound of muscle is going to weight the same as a pound of fat.
They are both a pound! Whether it’s a pound of nails or bricks or pillows or children. A pound is a pound.
The key factor, as stated earlier, is the density of what you’re weighing.
In our case with your body and the muscle and fat you carry around, a pound of fat is going to take up more volume than a pound of muscle.
Obviously, this isn’t ideal!
I don’t know the exact number for this, either. I’ve read that muscle is anywhere from 18%-32% more dense than fat. I’m having trouble finding studies on this.
In either case, the fact remains that fat takes up more room. This is an extremely important fact to think about.
For example, if you weigh 130 pounds at 15% body fat, you will look much bigger than someone who weighs 140 pounds at 8% body fat.
In fact, the individual at 8% body fat will appear very skinny to most while the 130 pound person will be skinny-fat, soft and flabby.
No one wants to be skinny fat. No one wants to look soft and flabby. Avoiding this body type and developing the Lean Warrior Physique is exactly what you need to aim for in your health and fitness journey.
If You’re Skinny Fat, Avoid Bulks. Focus On Strength
Some people have this mentality that they want to convert their fat into muscle. This is a myth because it’s physically impossible to do so.
However, your muscle to fat ratio may increase which explains the stall in weight loss.
This is why I recommend people who are skinny fat to focus on increasing their strength levels instead of being so anal with calories.
As someone who has been skinny fat for most of my life, you can’t expect to bulk like everybody else. You’ll simply put on much more fat than muscle if you’re eating 500 calories above maintenance. Our body types do NOT like this style of bulking.
Building muscle is a slow process. Anyone that says you can gain 20 pounds of muscle in 3 months is lying to you (and probably selling something as well).
It’s much easier to burn fat off your body than it is to add muscle. Putting on lean mass is a tough process for anyone who desires to be natural and healthy.
At most, expect to only add one pound of muscle per month to your body.
Yes, this is much lower than all those other “gurus” and “experts” would have you believe. But, it’s realistic. I don’t want you to have some crazy 1 pound per week muscle gain expectations. It’s simple impossible.
Thus explains why you’re skinny fat in the first place: you don’t have much muscle on your body! You might weigh only 150 pounds, but you lack the mass. Therefore, you appear fat and flabby. Not a good look.
So, you need to focus on building strength to your weak, fragile frame. It’s really the only goal that you should have at this point. It’s how you build the Lean Warrior body type.
There is an exception to this rule:
If you’re above 15% body fat, then I highly recommend that you cut weight and lower your body fat percentage for 8 weeks before you embark on a strength training program.
You can still focus on gaining strength, but it shouldn’t be your main goal. Hit those shoulder presses and work those legs. You’ll burn more calories.
The goal is to slim up a bit and drop as much fat as possible for these 8 weeks. Then, you can bump up the calories and begin a 9-12 month lean bulk to build up your strength levels.
Now that you know that muscle is more dense than fat, your goal should be to get lean. When you’re lean, you’ll see the results of your gym training. This builds confidence and momentum which is very important.
One pound of muscle weighs the same as one pound of fat. However, because muscle is more dense than fat, that one pound of fat will be much more noticeable than the muscle.
This is bad for the skinny-fat body types. Getting lean is very important. But, you need to be strong if you want to get rid of the skinny-fat physique.
Therefore, get your body fat levels down to around 10% and then focus on building strength for the next year. Seriously.