By Crystal Manjarres
Q. I keep hearing about muscle vs. fat. I was told that muscle weighs more than fat- is this true?
A. This is one of the most controversial topics in the fitness realm- the age-old question of “which weighs more, muscle or fat?” Because there is so much misinformation out there, this is usually one of the first questions I ask a potential client. I have had people say fat weighs more, muscle weighs more, and “I don’t know”. The truth is, I have yet to find a single individual who answers this question correctly. Think about this: if I give you a pound of feathers and a pound of bricks, which weighs more? Ponder this carefully before you read on. Next question: if you have five pounds of muscle and five pounds of fat, which weighs more? The answer is clear- they both weigh the same! Muscle and fat, compared pound for pound, weigh the same. The misconception occurs from so called “experts” (in fact, I recently read that muscle weighs more than fat in a well-known fitness magazine), television, supplement ads, celebrities (who repeat whatever their fitness guru tells them) and so on. Over time, this thought becomes ingrained in our minds to the point that we trust the information as valid without ever seeking the truth. The difference (and probably where the misunderstanding originates) comes from the appearance of muscle and body fat. When you place a five pound model of body fat next to a five pound model of muscle, what you see is a yellow, squishy blob of body fat that towers in size in comparison to the five pound model of muscle (hence the misconception of some who believe body fat weighs more). When you hold the body fat in one hand and the muscle in the other hand, the muscle feels as if it weighs double that of the body fat, and voila! People mistakenly assume that muscle weighs more than fat. Another misunderstanding associated with muscle weighing more than fat, is that muscle will make you “bulk up”. This is completely untrue; body fat takes up nearly double the space as muscle and burns a mere 2-3 calories at rest, whereas muscle is smaller in size, sleeker in appearance, and can burn upwards of 35-50 calories at rest (and thus decrease that colossal mass of body fat). To sum it up, pound for pound muscle weighs the same as body fat, muscle will not “bulk” you up (more on this in another article), and muscle utilizes less space than fat, but burns more calories at rest, making it your metabolism’s best friend. If you have additional questions, or would like further information on this topic, feel free to email me at Crystal@101Fit.com.
Crystal Manjarres is the owner of One-On-One Fitness, a private personal training and Pilates studio on Marco Island. She is a certified personal trainer and Stott Pilates certified instructor. Her focus is “Empowering men and women of all shapes and sizes”. To send in a question, email Crystal@101Fit.com. She can also be reached at www.101FIT.com and (239) 333-5771.