If you’re looking to lose weight and tone up, you’ll need to understand the answer to a common question: Which weighs more, muscle or fat? This is an important topic that I explain to all of my clients that hire me to be their online personal trainer.
Before I answer this question, you’ll need to understand that this is the wrong question to ask! Let me explain. Muscle and fat are two completely different bodily tissues.
Which is denser, muscle vs fat?
According to the wikipedia page on muscle, muscle is 15% denser than fat. This means that the cells that make up muscle are closer together than the cells in a jiggly piece of fat. Now we’re getting somewhere. Density is about how tightly packed things are.
Which has more volume, muscle vs fat?
Volume is about how much space an object takes up. Picture a ziploc bag of jelly beans, and another ziploc bag filled with popcorn.
As you can see, they take up the same amount of space; one ziploc bag. Their weight is different, though. A ziploc bag of jelly beans is obviously much heavier than a ziploc bag of popcorn. This is because the stuff that jelly beans are made from, is denser than what popcorn is made from.
Why is this even important, I just what to know which one is heavier?
Muscle and fat have a similar relationship to jelly beans and popcorn. A ziploc bag of muscle would weigh more than a ziploc bag of fat.
BUT, a pound of fat would take up more space than a pound of muscle, and this is what’s important to understand.
If you were to lose 10lbs of fat, and gain 10lbs of muscle you would take up less space. This would mean your clothes would fit better, and you would lose “inches”. Make sense? This is important to understand when you’re working with a personal trainer.
Why you want to burn fat and build muscle to look more toned
As you can see in the picture above, 15% doesn’t look like much. However, it can still be enough to make a significant difference. Think of a person with a 36 inch waist that loses 15% of the space their waist takes up (we would measure this “space” in inches). 15% of 36 inches is 5.4 inches.
In real life, when you burn fat you’ll lose it from all over (not just from your waist). The idea is to focus on building muscle in the places that will make you look more toned, as you burn fat from all over.
Muscle is hard and firm. When people compliment you on how tone you look, they’re looking at your muscles. Fat on the other hand, is soft and squishy. It sits on top of your muscles, and blocks people from seeing the definition you’re working hard to show off.
As you burn fat and build muscle, you’re also reallocating your weight. You’ll be burning fat from spots that are “fatty” (stomach, back of the arm, legs, etc.) and putting muscle on spots that need it to make you look more toned.
Can you see why it doesn’t really matter which weighs more? It’s more about which takes up more space. You want to look at where that space is on your body, and ultimately how to make yourself look and feel better. It’s less about how much you weigh, and more whether or not you can button your pants and bend over without ripping them. Check out this guide to learn how to track your progress.