T Nation

Muscle to Fat or Vice Versa

I know that this is the biggest fallacy out there and it pisses me off that in this day and age with so much information available people can be so ignorant as to still believe something like this!!

Anyways to my suprise there is alot of people that do. I know that fat and muscle are completely differnt things and can not go from one to the other but could someone give me a bit more of a complex explation so that I can say more then “No, your wrong” when people tell me “you know thats all just going to turn to fat when your older”.

Thanks.

Because they are uneducated fucks.

By Steve Baldwin

Posted on NaturalStrength.com on June 20, 1999

Dear Mr. Baldwin,

I have enjoyed particpating in strength training since 1992. I love being strong and appreciate what strength training has done for my appearance. My husband, who works in the medical field, claims that if I stop training my hard earned muscle will turn to fat. Is there any truth to this?

Leah Stewart

Dear Ms. Stewart,

Thanks for writing. Muscle turning to fat is a long time myth that continues to endure. Muscle and fat are distinctly different tissues. Muscle tissue is approximately 70 percent water. Conversely fat is over 70 percent fat with less than 25 percent water. A pound of muscle contains under 700 calories whereas a pound of fat will yield 3500 calories. In addition a pound of muscle is approximately 18 percent smaller by volume than a pound of fat.

Just as wood cannot turn to iron, muscle cannot turn to fat. Dr. James A. Peterson, Dr. Cedric X. Bryant and Susan L. Peterson use a great analogy to explain away this persuasive myth in their book, Strength Training For Women (1995-Human Kinetics). The explanation goes like this: "If you don’t use a muscle, it will literally waste (atrophy) away. When someone has a cast removed from a leg that had been broken, the unused leg muscles look smaller than they were before the injury. If muscle turned to fat, you would see a “fat ball” when the cast was removed, not atrophied leg muscles.

I sincerely hope that you will never have to stop your strength training program. If for some reason you do have to stop don’t worry about your muscles turning to fat. It is not going to happen.

Sincerely, Steve Baldwin

[quote]tmay11 wrote:
I know that this is the biggest fallacy out there and it pisses me off that in this day and age with so much information available people can be so ignorant as to still believe something like this!!

Anyways to my suprise there is alot of people that do. I know that fat and muscle are completely differnt things and can not go from one to the other but could someone give me a bit more of a complex explation so that I can say more then “No, your wrong” when people tell me “you know thats all just going to turn to fat when your older”.

Thanks.[/quote]

Someone who would even say something like that doesn’t want to know any better. That makes anything you say a waste of breath afterwards. Most of the time, this is coming from fat people in reference to how they were supposedly huge and muscular years ago (in High school) but it all turned to fat right before their eyes. They are telling you this for one reason…you make them feel bad. They hate looking at you. It ruins their day that there are people walking around in better shape than them so the only way for them to justify their own lack of will power is to make you appear crazy for working out.

People like that don’t want scientific studies or truth. They simply want to make you feel bad and make themselves feel better in the process. What better justification for the overweight pencil pusher than to believe that you will one day be just like them and that your muscle is only temporary?

Other people do the same thing in different ways. People who look at anyone bigger than them and cry drug use are doing the same thing. It is a defense mechanism. Instead of accepting any faulst they may have…it is so much easier to make you look insane.

[quote]tmay11 wrote:
I know that this is the biggest fallacy out there and it pisses me off that in this day and age with so much information available people can be so ignorant as to still believe something like this!!

Anyways to my suprise there is alot of people that do. I know that fat and muscle are completely differnt things and can not go from one to the other but could someone give me a bit more of a complex explation so that I can say more then “No, your wrong” when people tell me “you know thats all just going to turn to fat when your older”.

Thanks.[/quote]

I used to think this was common knowledge, even in the non-health-conscience world, but I was proven wrong one day at work.

One skrawney kid was telling me how much he tried to gain weight in the past and how it just doesn’t work. He said he wish he could go to a doctor and have fat put into him, the opposite of liposuction.

I laughed a little thinking he was joking, and told him they’re two different things, and he looked at me funny.

Then the chick sitting next to him interupted saying that one can, in fact, turn their fat into muscle. She was dead serious, and every time I told her that wasn’t true, she got defensive; so much so that she stormed away from the table rolling her eyes at me.

Prof. X is right. It wouldn’t have mattered how many references I showed her, she already closed her mind to any opposing opinion.

I even tried explaining how one can lose fat while gaining muscle, but it’s more difficult than doing one at a time, but she fought me every time I said that they’re two different things.

Have you considered mockery in response? Like, if I put water in my gas tank it will turn to gas?

Doesn’t everyone know that? Simple osmosis.

Muscle obviously cant turn to fat and fat cant turn to muscle, the most simple explanation is its just different tissue that had very little in common and serves two different purposes.

Now the reason the myths appeared in my opinion is this - when a fairly bulky person stops lifting weights and is about 200 lbs of muscle the fat packs on his muscle becomes flabby and as a result he looks a lot fatter then he really is. A skinny person gaining some fat barely looks as fat as a person that had a lot more mass before he gained fat.

[quote]Typhoon wrote:
Muscle obviously cant turn to fat and fat cant turn to muscle, the most simple explanation is its just different tissue that had very little in common and serves two different purposes.

Now the reason the myths appeared in my opinion is this - when a fairly bulky person stops lifting weights and is about 200 lbs of muscle the fat packs on his muscle becomes flabby and as a result he looks a lot fatter then he really is. A skinny person gaining some fat barely looks as fat as a person that had a lot more mass before he gained fat. [/quote]

Actually, a larger person can hold more body fat without looking as fat as someone much smaller. This is why a muscular guy of 260lbs is not going to look “chubby” at 20% body fat. Someone who only weighs 150lbs at 20% may look completely out of shape. A muscular person who stops working out will simply lose muscle. The SAME THING happens to someone smaller. If that same person doesn’t decrease their eating habits, they will gain body fat. Being larger or smaller has little to do with it.

What’s bad is, my mom has had a NURSE tell her this. When my mom tried to talk sense, the same result.

[quote]Professor X wrote:

Someone who would even say something like that doesn’t want to know any better. That makes anything you say a waste of breath afterwards. Most of the time, this is coming from fat people in reference to how they were supposedly huge and muscular years ago (in High school) but it all turned to fat right before their eyes. They are telling you this for one reason…you make them feel bad. They hate looking at you. It ruins their day that there are people walking around in better shape than them so the only way for them to justify their own lack of will power is to make you appear crazy for working out.

People like that don’t want scientific studies or truth. They simply want to make you feel bad and make themselves feel better in the process. What better justification for the overweight pencil pusher than to believe that you will one day be just like them and that your muscle is only temporary?

Other people do the same thing in different ways. People who look at anyone bigger than them and cry drug use are doing the same thing. It is a defense mechanism. Instead of accepting any faulst they may have…it is so much easier to make you look insane.
[/quote]

Very true, the ones who say this are the ones that are the most inactive and make the most excuses. I agree that I shouldn’t waste my breath on these people but a short explanation would be nice.

Most often I do respond with sarcasm like “ya just as I can turn this water into gold”

[quote]tmay11 wrote:
I know that this is the biggest fallacy out there and it pisses me off that in this day and age with so much information available people can be so ignorant as to still believe something like this!!

Anyways to my suprise there is alot of people that do. I know that fat and muscle are completely differnt things and can not go from one to the other but could someone give me a bit more of a complex explation so that I can say more then “No, your wrong” when people tell me “you know thats all just going to turn to fat when your older”.

Thanks.[/quote]

Just looked them in the eye and say, with a serious, solid and manly voice:

“I’ll bet your first born daughter that 18 years from now, i’ll look better than you.”

Then, not only will you be inspired to train, but you’ll have a legal young girl to play around with.

FATS HAVE NO NITROGEN.

Argument finished.

Fats contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.

Carbs contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.

Proteins contain carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen.

That is the end of the f@#$ing story.

Tell them that and tell them they are STUPID.

OK you don’t have to be harsh.

In a way, fat could “turn” to muscle in a way, sort of, because if you exercise hard, but don’t eat enough, your body might build muscle and burn fat to make up the calorie deficit. But you cannot build muscle without bringing in nitrogen. UNLESS your body scavenges it from other, unused muscles in your body, by breaking them down to build the muscles you are using.

Also, having fat on your body can help in the process.

But the actual fat does NOT turn to muscles.

If you don’t eat enough, and don’t workout, you could find however your muscles break down to fuel you, and the fat is saved, your body thinking that a) it is famine time and b) you don’t need these muscles anymore (you ain’t using them).

I think that this belief stems from the fact that when you’re carrying a larger degree of muscle mass you’re metabolic levels are (relatively) high and as a result you can eat a high number of calories with out gaining excess fat. But if you were to stop training and your muscles began to atrophy your metabolism with naturally slow down as a result, and if you don’t change you’re eating habits, even tho you’re consuming the same amount of calories there isn’t the “need” for them and instead of being used as energy, they’re stored as fat.

[quote]Hanley wrote:
I think that this belief stems from the fact that when you’re carrying a larger degree of muscle mass you’re metabolic levels are (relatively) high and as a result you can eat a high number of calories with out gaining excess fat. But if you were to stop training and your muscles began to atrophy your metabolism with naturally slow down as a result, and if you don’t change you’re eating habits, even tho you’re consuming the same amount of calories there isn’t the “need” for them and instead of being used as energy, they’re stored as fat.[/quote]

That’s exactly what it is. Most people don’t decrease their food intake along with stopping their workouts. If they did, they wouldn’t get fatter. They would simply lose muscle mass.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
tmay11 wrote:
I know that this is the biggest fallacy out there and it pisses me off that in this day and age with so much information available people can be so ignorant as to still believe something like this!!

Anyways to my suprise there is alot of people that do. I know that fat and muscle are completely differnt things and can not go from one to the other but could someone give me a bit more of a complex explation so that I can say more then “No, your wrong” when people tell me “you know thats all just going to turn to fat when your older”.

Thanks.

Someone who would even say something like that doesn’t want to know any better. That makes anything you say a waste of breath afterwards. Most of the time, this is coming from fat people in reference to how they were supposedly huge and muscular years ago (in High school) but it all turned to fat right before their eyes. They are telling you this for one reason…you make them feel bad. They hate looking at you. It ruins their day that there are people walking around in better shape than them so the only way for them to justify their own lack of will power is to make you appear crazy for working out.

People like that don’t want scientific studies or truth. They simply want to make you feel bad and make themselves feel better in the process. What better justification for the overweight pencil pusher than to believe that you will one day be just like them and that your muscle is only temporary?

Other people do the same thing in different ways. People who look at anyone bigger than them and cry drug use are doing the same thing. It is a defense mechanism. Instead of accepting any faulst they may have…it is so much easier to make you look insane.
[/quote]

Well, that’s a nice conspiracy theory. The more likely scenario is they actually believe it. Because people often stop training but still eat like they train. So, they lose muscle and pack on fat. Not a pretty picture. Happens all the time in athletes of all levels and all stripes and sizes. So, the myth gets perpetuated.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
Hanley wrote:
I think that this belief stems from the fact that when you’re carrying a larger degree of muscle mass you’re metabolic levels are (relatively) high and as a result you can eat a high number of calories with out gaining excess fat. But if you were to stop training and your muscles began to atrophy your metabolism with naturally slow down as a result, and if you don’t change you’re eating habits, even tho you’re consuming the same amount of calories there isn’t the “need” for them and instead of being used as energy, they’re stored as fat.

That’s exactly what it is. Most people don’t decrease their food intake along with stopping their workouts. If they did, they wouldn’t get fatter. They would simply lose muscle mass.[/quote]

Right. You said it. Maybe some people are relieving their [often imaginary] glory days and seeking to bolster themselves up and tear others down. But most who think and say this are just using their eyes, and lacking education, come to false conclusions.

so i cant turn lead into gold either??

awww nuts

[quote]Wayland wrote:
so i cant turn lead into gold either??

awww nuts[/quote]

wasted life, eh?

We all know you can’t turn fat in muscle. Nor the other way around.

But that’s not what they are saying.
If you stop working out, will you gain fat and at the same time loose muscle. Sure you will.

If you start to work out, can you build muscle while at the same time loosing fat. Sure you can.

Of course, this one particular fat cell doens’t turn into muscle. Or this one particular muscle fiber doesn’t turn into fat. It’s a dynamic balance and the balance shifts.

Technically, they’re wrong. In real life, they have a point.

[quote]Wreckless wrote:
We all know you can’t turn fat in muscle. Nor the other way around.

But that’s not what they are saying.
If you stop working out, will you gain fat and at the same time loose muscle. Sure you will.

If you start to work out, can you build muscle while at the same time loosing fat. Sure you can.

Of course, this one particular fat cell doens’t turn into muscle. Or this one particular muscle fiber doesn’t turn into fat. It’s a dynamic balance and the balance shifts.

Technically, they’re wrong. In real life, they have a point.[/quote]

No, that IS exactly what some of them say. When you explain, they get mad, start insulting you, or act like you are crazy. Technical or not, they are wrong, and in real life, they’re usually lazy.

[quote]Kratos wrote:
Wreckless wrote:
We all know you can’t turn fat in muscle. Nor the other way around.

But that’s not what they are saying.
If you stop working out, will you gain fat and at the same time loose muscle. Sure you will.

If you start to work out, can you build muscle while at the same time loosing fat. Sure you can.

Of course, this one particular fat cell doens’t turn into muscle. Or this one particular muscle fiber doesn’t turn into fat. It’s a dynamic balance and the balance shifts.

Technically, they’re wrong. In real life, they have a point.

No, that IS exactly what some of them say. When you explain, they get mad, start insulting you, or act like you are crazy. Technical or not, they are wrong, and in real life, they’re usually lazy.[/quote]

This is true. I have actually been in conversations where the person will claim that muscle actually turns to fat and they are NOT talking about losing muscle and then gaining fat due to inactivity and eating too much. There are people who truly believe that the bigger your muscles are, the more all of that will simply turn to fat later. For them, they can’t even comprehend someone lifting weights for a life time and they don’t associate fat gain directly with their own inactivity and lack of will power. The same mentality is seen in skinny newbies who claim to eat all of the time and simply can’t gain weight. For people like that, weight gain or loss is magic and has nothing to do with their own actions.