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Muscle myths & fat facts

How many friends and family have said to you “What are you going to do when all that muscle you’ve built turns in to fat when you stop training?”

Beginners starting fitness programmes often ask the question “How long will it take and how much training must I do to turn or my loose body fat into rippling muscle?”

The problem with both the questions above is that there is a fundamental flaw in them. That is muscle cannot turn into fat and fat cannot turn into muscle.

Muscle is a totally different tissue to fat. Their structures and their functions are different and both react differently to training. It likes saying that lead can be turned into gold.

To understand more you need to look at muscle and fat separately.

Body fat is totally related to calories and calories are related to the amount you consume versus the amount expanded. You get calories from food, all food no matter whether its carbohydrates, proteins or fats and there is a simple equation, if you consume more calories than you use then they will turn into body fat. Fat can do three things. It can grow and possibly divide, stay as it is or shrink in size. What your fat cells decide to do will depend on your eating habits and your activity levels.

Calories can be burned away, reducing body fat. When you consider ways of burning calories you automatically think of exercise. Exercise is one of the most controlled and efficient ways of burning calories but calories are being burned all the time even as you sleep and when you breath but this is hardly enough to promote weight loss. Fat cannot be lost in specific areas as is often claimed by advertisers and marketing men. If you diet but are sedentary then you weight loss will be very slow compared to dieting and being active.

Muscle is made up of thousands of individual cell or muscle fibres, and though you cannot increase the number of fibres, each fibre as the potential to increase in size and efficiency. As the fibres grow your muscles get stronger.

Muscle changes are related to the stress’s you put upon them and as long as you are eating a balanced diet the increase in strength and the physiological changes of the muscle are not affected by what you eat. Your muscles are use to every day stress, so to make them stronger you have push them beyond their normal limits. This is called the overload principal. It doesn’t have to be done at the gym but it is associated with weight training. Weight training is the perfect way to build muscle in a controlled and systematic way. Individual muscles can be targeted unlike fat. If you stop training the muscle will return to its normal size, it will not turn into fat. The myth of this happening probably comes from bodybuilders. Bodybuilders increase their calorie intake substantially. This is to give them bulk to lift heavier weight, which in turn builds bigger muscle. What often happens when a bodybuilder stops training is their activity levels fall but they continue with their food intake. The result is an increase in body fat. It is not muscle changing into fat.

Finally to get a great physique you will need to do two things, reduce your body fat and increase the size of your muscle. Without reducing your body fat you may never get that chiselled look. You can do as many sit-ups as you like to get that abdominal six pack but if you have a layer of fat covering them you will never get the best result.

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