Can you actually turn fat into muscle? Or is it just another set of bro science misconception? Also, let’s dive into the research and see if we can lose fat and build muscle at the same time!
Can You Turn Fat Into Muscle?
Turning fat into muscle is a concept pushed heavily in fitness media without much indication to the contrary.
The specific origin of it is unknown, and maybe, it’s just more of a figurative way to describe getting fit but misinterpreted for literal truth.
Whatever the case, the belief runs rampant in the industry today.
So, let’s just cut straight to the chase…
NO, you cannot turn fat into muscle.
Fat and muscle are completely different bioactive compounds, with fats being made up of something you probably heard of from your biology class, triglycerides.
Muscle, on the other hand, is comprised of myofibrils, with each rod-like cell housing different proteins such as actin and myosin among other molecules, such as nitrogen, allowing the muscle to produce force.
In short, fat and muscle are wildly different tissues and do not have the capability of being directly converted from one to the other.
But often this claim of swapping your fat for muscle brings about another important question:
Is it even possible to burn fat and build muscle at the same time?
Ideally, focusing on one or the other at a time is better, as they’re optimized by completely opposite states.
Burning fat is advantageous in a catabolic state via calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than you burn, shifting to fat as a predominant energy source.
Building muscle is optimized in an anabolic state, consuming more calories than you burn, especially protein.
Paired with resistance training, the body signals muscle protein synthesis and produces new muscle tissue.
Based on this, it certainly looks implausible to burn fat and build muscle at the same time.
Fortunately, it can be done, but it takes more judicious effort to do than to do them separately.
According to sci-fit.net, in their compiled study review, scientific research suggests that the best potential case to build muscle during a deficit is if you’re overweight and have very little exercise experience.
It’s hypothesized by some, including myself, that one, by carrying more body fat, your body has a larger energy reservoir to attenuate muscle breakdown, and two, untrained individuals have a greater genetic growth potential where even the slightest form of exercise can induce muscle hypertrophy.
Such a scenario might create the illusion of one converting their fat into muscle, but it’s more because one is burning fat and then build muscle in its place. A slight but important difference.
However, this is much more difficult for lean and trained athletes to achieve, since the exact opposite is true for them. Also, results will be slower so temper your expectations.
Perhaps the best strategy to implement, and where the added effort is required, is to use a modest calorie deficit, maybe no more than 3 to 400 calories or so, and keeping your protein intake high, hovering within the 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight range or more.
Trained and lean individuals will require a much more stringent calorie deficit with more protein. But most importantly is resistance training.
Without some form of resistance exercise, regardless of a deficit or a surplus, no muscle will be built.
Also, some might find use in programs that takes advantage of carb cycling, which rotates days of eating at a deficit with days eating at a surplus by adding more carbs.
Check out my video about carb cycling if you want more details.
Ultimately, no, you cannot turn fat into muscle, but yes, you can burn fat and build muscle at the same time under the right circumstances.
If you haven’t heard, I’m giving away a set of Lebert Equalizer bars for home gym training.
Thank you to all that already entered the giveaway.
If you want to join as well, check out the link the description.
If you got other fitness misconceptions you want dealt with, feel free to share it in the comments.
As always, thank you for watching and get your protein!