You often see it in commercials, especially the kind of commercials that try to promote unrealistic diet products. Photo 1 shows a fat, unhealthy person, preferably with a very sad face. Photo 2, on the other hand, shows a muscular guy who looks like he can handle the whole world!
The logical conclusion for the layman is very simple: somehow this man has converted fat into muscle. But how credible is it really when a product promises you that great effect? Is that actually possible to convert fat into muscles? Today’s article takes a detailed look at that important question!
Convert fat into muscles?
First of all, let’s see what happens if we take the question very literally. Convert fat into muscles, is that possible? Can you break down the material of fat and rebuild it with some useful chemical reactions such as muscle mass? The answer is very simple: no, you cannot convert fat into muscles. Muscles are made up of building blocks called amino acids (which your body has extracted from proteins ).
Fat consists, quite simply, of fat. There are no amino acids in any form. So you cannot use fat as a building material for your muscles! It must be burned separately, and the muscles must be built separately. They are two completely separate processes.
How do you lose fat?
The question is of course: can you combine the two processes with each other? In other words, is it possible to lose fat while building more muscle at the same time? For that, we first have to take a closer look at how these two physical developments actually work.
Fat loss is a well-known process for many people. The math behind it is very simple: if you burn more calories than you eat, you will burn fat. After all, your body has to get the fuel from somewhere else to get you through the day. Without a shortage of calories, it is therefore not possible to lose fat.
How do you build muscle?
Then there is muscle building, where the story gets a bit more complicated. To build more muscle, you need two things: an incentive to get stronger, and ‘building blocks’ for your muscles. You create that stimulus by doing heavy strength training. Your body receives the ‘signal’ that you need more power.
With strength training, you create small cracks in the muscles. When they are repaired, more tissue comes back than there was original! However, for that repair, you need sufficient proteins, which supply amino acids to form muscle tissue. Because you have to build ‘new’ body tissue, it is important in muscle growth to get more calories than you burn.
Lose fat and build muscle?
As you probably already see, there is a problem if you want to lose fat and build muscle at the same time. For fat, you need a shortage of calories, for muscles a surplus! It is clear that you cannot meet both conditions at the same time. So if you want to lose weight, you will often also break down some muscle tissue. After all, your body tries to get energy from everywhere.
Conversely, fat is often added when you train to grow your muscles. To name an extreme example: sumo wrestlers are often insanely strong. You don’t see it, but under all that fat are huge loads of muscles hidden!
That means you always have to choose one or the other! Fortunately, there are a few minor exceptions. One of these applies to people who are just starting out with weight training. Your muscles currently need very little stimulus to start growing. After all, they are hardly trained.
In addition, your insulin resistance decreases when you train, and the absorption and processing of nutrients improve. Even without eating more, you are already creating an increase in ‘building material’. All this leads to beginners often losing both fat and building more muscle mass. In other words, a great start to a healthier lifestyle!
And for advanced?
But what about more advanced strength athletes? Unfortunately: there are often fat loss and muscle building really separated. It is not without reason that most advanced students alternate between ‘ bulking ‘ and ‘ cutting ‘. Periods of completion and build-up ensure that you get closer to the desired result. There are, of course, ways to avoid shooting too far one way or the other. By meeting a number of conditions, you can lose weight and (largely) maintain your muscle mass:
Lose weight slowly. If you create a huge calorie deficit, your body will naturally break down muscles in a kind of emergency reflex. Keeping it very gradual will prevent that. 300 to 500 calories a day is a good shortage of advanced strength athletes.
Eat a lot of protein. When you lose weight, you get fewer nutrients. A little less fat and carbohydrates are fine, but make sure that your protein consumption remains relatively high, at least 1.8-2 grams per kg of body weight. You need the amino acids to maintain your muscle mass as much as possible.
Do heavy strength training. By continuing to train firmly, you clearly show your body that you really need that strength. Your muscles are not unnecessary fuel, in other words! Really choose strength training, not excessive cardio: too much endurance sports can cause a breakdown.
This way you may not build more muscle mass during weight loss, but you will maintain your existing muscles.
Arriving can be good news!
One last point that we would like to emphasize here for all bulkers: converting fat into muscles is not possible, but gaining weight is not bad! If you do it in a controlled way, it is exactly what you need. After all, you don’t get that muscle mass without growing all over your body.
Of course, make sure that you do not arrive too quickly because then it is really mainly about fat. In addition, make sure that you do not let your fat percentage get too high. It then becomes more difficult to get it off again. Furthermore, you do not have to worry so much! Because converting fat to muscles is not possible, this is often the best alternative.