This is probably the most common myth in the world of training, and a question I get asked all the time. The answer is NO! Fat CANNOT turn into muscle nor can muscle turn into fat.
So why do people think this?
Have you ever seen a very trained person suddenly putting on weight after he/she stops exercising? It may look as though suddenly all the muscle they had has turned into fat. However, all that has happened to the muscles is they are becoming weaker. They do not turn into fat.
You may ask, so why the weight gain?
People often put on weight after they stop exercising because they haven't changed their nutrition, they are still eating like a person who is exercising (in terms of the amount of calories being consumed).
When we exercise, the body uses the calories from our food as energy and for building muscle. This is why it is important when exercising to ensure you are eating enough! Those who stop exercising but continue to eat the same amount of calories, their body will store the extra calories as fat, rather than burning the calories or using them as muscle building blocks.
So let's go back to the original question; does muscle turn into fat? You have to understand what is fat and what is muscle.
Our muscles are tissues that contract to produce movement in our body and to support other structures in our body (joints, internal organs etc).
Fat however, is a tissue that stores energy for emergency usage (in cases of hunger or starvation).
There is no connection between these two types of tissues. They are made up of different cells and have different functions. When we do strength exercise, the calories go to building and strengthening our muscles. When we stop exercising, the opposite occurs; the muscles weaken and get smaller, and the extra calories that our body does not need are stored as fat in different areas in our body.
So don't get confused! When you exercise it's important to understand the effects of what you are doing, and what is happening in your body. Better understanding leads to better results!
Yair is a Wingate certified Personal Trainer, Karate Instructor, Massage Therapist, and Sport Therapist. His motto is "Less pain, more gain", combining sport therapy with fitness to help you maximize your health & fitness goals while reducing risk of future injuries and health problems.
To learn more about Yair or book a session, click here!