QUESTION: What’s the best workout and diet for turning my fat into muscle? Also, if you stop working out, is it true that your muscle turns into fat? If so, how do you prevent that from happening?
ANSWER: Alright, it seems we have ourselves a 3-part question. I’m going to try to answer each part separately, but I have a pretty good feeling that my answer to the first part will also answer the second and third parts.
Let’s see how it goes.
What’s The Best Way To Turn Body Fat Into Muscle?
Well, considering that it’s impossible to turn fat into muscle, I can only guess that some type of magic would need to be involved in the process.
Perhaps some voodoo?
Maybe even superpowers?
Or a wish-granting genie?
Because unfortunately, without that… you’re kinda screwed.
You see, fat is fat and muscle is muscle. They are two very different and separate types of tissue, neither of which is capable of somehow transforming into the other.
Fat can only be lost or gained.
Muscle can only be lost or gained.
And… then… that’s… it.
There are no other possibilities here. Fat cannot become muscle, and muscle cannot become fat. They’re completely different things providing their own unique functions within the human body, similar to how a skin cell is completely different from a brain cell.
Of course, you can potentially lose some fat AND gain some muscle, and it may SEEM like fat “turned into” muscle. But it didn’t. It’s just that one type of tissue was lost and another type of tissue was gained. Nothing more, nothing less.
So… how do you turn fat into muscle? You don’t.
How To Do What You’re Actually Trying To Do
The people who ask this question clearly want two things:
To make this happen, they (incorrectly) assume the obvious best way is to turn one into the other, thus achieving 2 goals with 1 physiological process.
In terms of efficiency, they certainly have the right idea. In terms of realistic possibility, they have the wrong idea. It just can’t happen.
The good news, however, is that the 2 goals themselves can most definitely be achieved, just not in some magical “Freaky Friday” one-becomes-the-other process.
They need to happen in two separate processes; one where existing body fat is lost (via a caloric deficit), and another where new muscle mass is gained (via an effective workout routine that provides a sufficient muscle building stimulus [source] and a diet that supports it… all of which is covered in Superior Muscle Growth).
Some people (primarily beginners and people regaining lost muscle) will actually be capable of doing both simultaneously… at least to some degree and for some amount of time.
This is a topic I cover in detail here: How To Build Muscle And Lose Fat At The Same Time
Does Muscle Turn Into Fat When You Stop Working Out?
No. It doesn’t. Because it can’t.
What often DOES happen when you stop working out is that you simply lose muscle and gain fat.
Because if you remove the training stimulus that tells your body it needs to keep its muscle mass around (which is what happens when you stop strength training), you will gradually begin to lose that muscle mass.
In addition, exercise burns calories, so when you stop working out, you end up burning fewer calories than you previously were, which increases the likelihood of fat being gained.
Plus, people who stop working out also tend to stop adhering to their diet and whatever good eating habits they may have developed… which commonly leads to overeating… which commonly leads to body fat being gained for the same reason anyone ever gains body fat: they’re eating too many calories.
But again, muscle never becomes fat at any point in this scenario.
It’s still two completely separate processes – muscle is lost, fat is gained – giving the incorrect impression that it did.
How do you prevent this from happening, you ask?
Well, the only way to truly prevent muscle from being lost when you stop working out is to… um… not stop working out.
I mean, there are certainly ways to minimize muscle loss in a short-term scenario (How To Maintain Muscle When You’re Injured), but if it exceeds a short-term period of time (i.e. a month or longer), there is no way to prevent muscle from gradually being lost.
On the other hand, preventing body fat from being gained when you stop working out is something that can be done by simply ensuring your calorie intake doesn’t consistently exceed your maintenance level.
Easier said than done for many people, of course, but still certainly possible.
So, no… muscle cannot turn into fat, or vice versa. Tell your friends. 🙂
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