I think we’ve all heard the phrase “muscle weighs more than fat”, when it comes to weight loss. I always felt that to be true, but, which one weighs more, a pound of fat, or a pound of muscle? Then, I got to thinking about it, THEY BOTH WEIGH THE SAME! The difference? Muscle is more lean than fat, has a better appearance than fat, and burns more calories at rest than fat.
Why do we say muscle weighs more than fat?
When I used to work out, and I’d step on the scale and found that I hadn’t lost any weight, it bummed me out. I mean, I’m busting my hump in the gym! I should be losing weight, right? I would confide in a fellow gym member, and there it was: “Well, muscle weighs more than fat.” That made me feel a little better. It made me feel that I was making gains. That statement is a feel-good statement, in all reality. What had happened to me was the all-fearing, dreaded term “plateauing”. I covered that in a recent post, so no need to dive back in!
When working out, you’ll lose fat weight, but it will be replaced by muscle weight, so the scales may not tip much. Shrinking in mass will tell you all you need to know: you’re still losing “weight”, but you’re gaining lean muscle mass, and that’s what you want!
My advice? Get rid of the scale! A scale can be very misleading, and therefore discourage you. It can be your worst enemy in the battle of the bulge. Go for physical aspects of weight loss: appearance, how your clothes fit and how you feel. Clothes, mirrors and pictures will paint your portrait better. Take pictures before you begin, then in 2 months, and again in 6 months. If you’re consistent in the gym, you should start to see some changes in 2 months, then again in 6 months. Of course, there are factors to consider, such as food choices, intensities of your workouts, etc.
There are more benefits to having more muscle than fat.
- Muscle kicks up your metabolism. A pound of muscle will burn more calories at rest than a pound of fat.
- It’s important in improving bone durability and helps prevent the loss of muscle mass that occurs with getting older, allowing people to stay active as they get older.
If you’re cutting carbs, you’ll lose weight. The problem is, it’s mostly water weight. That’s because carbs stick to water. Increase carbs and you’ll gain weight….retaining water!
So, to lose fat and not muscle, it’s important to do the following:
- Strength training. Builds strength and blocks muscle loss. Also, stick to your diet!
- Eat healthy and avoid a lot of starchy carbs (potatoes, pasta, rice for example)
How to track progress effectively:
- Stop weighing yourself daily. You may fluctuate day to day and could make you lose your motivation.
- Stop looking in the mirror. I’m guilty of this! It can give you a false perception.
- Track strength progress. Record your workouts on your phone (in your notepad) or on an actual notepad. Getting stronger means muscle progression and strength training prevents breakdown of the muscles.
My journey is just beginning. I look forward to the day where an overwhelming majority of fat mass is GONE. Until that day comes, I’ll keep plugging away and grinding it out. There’s only one way to go, and that’s up!