There’s a good chance you’ve heard that once a fit person stops training, all their muscle will turn into fat.
I’ve even heard some people use this excuse to explain why they do no exercise.
“There’s no point working out,” they complain. “As soon as I stop, all that muscle will turn into fat.”
Does Fat Turn Into Muscle?
Muscle cannot turn into fat. Fat cannot turn into muscle. They are two completely different substances.
Muscle can be lost or gained.
So can fat.
But you can no more turn fat into muscle than the alchemists of the past could turn base metals into gold.
However, what you can do is use the energy in stored fat to fuel the process of muscle growth.
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What exactly do I mean by that?
First, doing the work required to stimulate muscle growth requires energy.
Go to the gym and lift weights for 45-60 minutes. Depending on how much weight you’re lifting and how hard you train, you’ll burn several hundred calories just moving the weights from point A to point B.
Much of the energy required to fuel that workout will come from carbohydrate. However, the workout itself will set in motion a series of metabolically costly processes that can last several days.
Damaged muscle fibers need to be repaired.
New muscle protein needs to be synthesized and laid down.
Depleted glycogen stores need to be restocked in time for the next workout.
All of this requires energy.
And the largest reservoir of chemical energy stored in your body is fat, which can be used to supply the energy required for the repair and remodelling process that takes place in the hours and days after training.
In fact, there are many studies, which I talk more about here, where people end up losing fat while simultaneously gaining muscle.
They didn’t turn fat into muscle.
A fat cell is a fat cell, a muscle cell is a muscle cell, and you can’t turn one into the other.
But they did use the energy supplied by fat to synthesize new muscle tissue.
You Can’t Turn Fat Into Muscle
In short, you can’t turn fat directly into muscle.
But the energy stored in fat can and will be used to fuel muscle growth.
As long as your diet and training program are set up properly, you will be able to lose fat and replace some of it with muscle.
This will create the illusion that you’ve figured out how to turn fat into muscle, and everyone will think you’re a miracle worker.
The only caveat is that your body becomes less likely to use stored fat to fuel muscle growth the less of it you have.
So, while you can gain muscle in a calorie deficit, it’s a phenomenon that’s generally limited to people who have a lot of fat to lose, and are relative newbies to lifting weights.
See Also: The Flat Belly Cheat Sheet
If you want less flab and more muscle when you look down at your abs (or where they should be), check out The Flat Belly Cheat Sheet.
It's a quick guide, which you can read online or keep as a PDF, that tells you exactly how to lose your gut and get back in shape. To get a FREE copy of the cheat sheet sent to you, please enter your email address in the box below, and hit the “send it now” button.