Can I Replace Fat with Muscle?

“I’ve heard and read several things about gaining muscle mass vs. losing fat and basically the online consensus is that it’s almost impossible. What are your thoughts?”

The Bad News…

… and then the good news below!  The bad news is that replacing fat stores with muscles stores is not physiologically possible.  The process of anabolism (building up muscle) and catabolism (breaking down muscle) are biological opposites, which means that we cannot have both happen simultaneously.

When we build muscle, we have to increase total caloric intake.  Losing weight requires decreasing total caloric intake.  For the body to burn through fat stores, it must also use carbohydrates from liver and muscle, plus use the protein from muscle to metabolize energy for the body.  For this reason, when we see a weight loss occur, we might also notice that we lose fat, water weight and muscle mass.

The Good News

For those who have a significant amount of fat to lose and have not exercised in a long time, starting an exercise program will begin to morph the body such that both a minimal amount of muscular growth and fat loss can occur.

Any exercise program can help create a more toned physique — it just depends on what your overall goal is.  Focus on one goal at a time.  It may be more beneficial to increase muscle mass and then go for the fat loss.  Your weight may eventually end up at the same by the end of the process, but it will probably fluctuate as you increase muscle mass and decrease the fat.

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