So is it true that muscle weighs more than fat? A reader emailed me a question that I thought others might also benefit from the answer. So I thought of doing a full article.
Here is the question: I have been trying to lose fat, but I now seem to have reached a dead end. I have been working out and eating right for weeks now, but my weight is the same. Could it be that I am shedding fat while gaining muscles at the same rate? Could that be the reason why I am burning fats, but my weight is still the same?
Answer: This is my kind of question. It has two elements that I love, so I will try to kill two birds with the same stone. Lets move on to the answer.
Fat loss plateau vs. weight loss plateau
It is true that both men and women experience fat and weight loss plateaus even though there are some differences between the two. That is an area that deserves a full article, but for this one, I am more interested in looking at the specific question raised. The questioner claims that he hasn’t lost any weight for 4 weeks despite eating right and working out. Which might mean he has reached the feared weight loss plateau. Admittedly, it is possible that the person is losing fat, but that loss is being counterbalanced by gain elsewhere.
Does Muscle Weigh More Than Fat?
You have to remember that weight is made of more than just fat. For instance, weight gain and weight loss can happen due to any of the following: fat, water, muscle, glycogen and poop. Thus, while it might be true that a pound of fat was lost, it may have been gained through a pound of something else that was added in the same period. Meaning that while you might be thinking that you have hit a fat loss plateau what you are experiencing is a weight loss plateau. I hope that makes it clear. That is the reason why it is a good idea to keep tabs on your body weight using different measurements such as body fat percentage and not just weight.
Let us go back the question.
Is is possible that what this person describes has been happening for weeks and the weight they are gaining is purely down to muscle weight? Could it be that the person is losing fat weight but gaining muscle weight at the same rate? It is technically possible but highly unlikely. The thing is that you are not gaining muscles as you think but rather you are not just losing fat. You need to remember that it is much easier to lose fat than it is to build muscles. Gaining muscle is a very gradual process that takes some time.
Another point to consider is that fat destroys and inhibits the growth of muscle. On average a male working out and doing everything else right might gain 0.25 lbs per week while a woman under the same circumstances might gain half of that. On the other hand, on average someone can lose 1-2lbs of fat per week without too much struggle. So whenever you see NO weight loss for a long period don’t think it is because you are gaining muscle weight at the same rate that you are losing fat weight. 99% of the times, it is because you are not losing fat as you may have thought. It is as simple and clear as that.
Does muscle weigh more than fat?
Could we please just stop saying this nonsensical phrase? What does it even mean? Because if you put 5 pounds of fat on a scale, then you put 5 pounds of muscle on a scale they will both weigh 5 pounds. Is that clear? You might say, ‘let us look at the volume and the density.
Clearly, that has some logic but the trouble with 12 plus years of experience in this field tells me that most people are not thinking about density and volume or anything that logical. This is a phrase that is thrown by people when they want to find an excuse for their ability to lose weight. Or in some cases, it explains away their lack of effort needed to lose fat. What is that supposed to mean Sally?
You might ask. I have been working out but I haven’t lost any weight in 12 years. Don’t worry! You are building muscle weight someone might tell you comfortingly. Muscles weigh more than fat, you know. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise just keep up the good job. Sorry, sally! I hate to tell you this: you don’t have sufficient caloric deficit for fat loss to take place. You need to either eat fewer calories or burn more calories. You can do them both.