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Real Life Nutrition Questions Answered

Real Life Fitness Questions Answered

Emma Brown
Nutritionist

Janet Aylott
Nutritionist

Kelly Marshall
Fitness Consultant

Q.

Is muscle heavier than fat?

Hi, After New Year I started stepping up the exercise (running, swimming and cycling) and found that I?m actually put on weight, not good! Although I was toning up. A recent injury to my ankle has stopped the exercise and the weight has stayed the same but I?ve now increased dress size, so question: is muscle heavier than fat?

A.

Our expert says...

Hi,

When you increase your exercise and activity levels, you will be upping the promotion and development of lean muscle tissue as you lose body fat and this can mean that even though your body fat goes down, weight in kgs can sometimes stay the same. This is why looking at body shape and how clothes feel/fit is a very important component of self-assessment to be aware of for monitoring the success of your strategy. The thing to remember is that the body adapts at different speeds and can take time to register and provide visible responses to different types of training. Weight gain however, suggests the need to ensure a consistent calorie deficit with your nutrition. When you are making progress in your training, your body will be reaping the benefits and you will experience changes in body shape relating to muscle tone improvements and body fat reduction. 

In terms of the specific differences between the weight of muscle and fat, a pound of lean muscle will allow you to burn 50 additional calories a day, while a pound of fat burns nothing. If you build 5 pounds of muscle you will burn 250 extra calories a day. Multiply this by 365 days in a year and divide by 3,500 (the number of calories in one pound). The result indicates that with this added muscle you will lose an extra 26 pounds in just one year. Muscle weighs more than fat - Research suggests that muscle density is 1.06g/ml and fat density is (about) 0.9 g/ml. Thus, one litre of muscle would weigh 1.06 kg and one litre of fat would weigh 0.9 kg. In other words, muscle is about 18% denser than fat.

As your body improves tone and your shape changes, you will often notice clothes fitting differently and dress sizes dropping though the scales don’t mirror the same magnitude of change. This can relate to the body balance between improving muscle tone and decreasing body fat. As a result of injury and decreased training such changes in body shape and tone can obviously reverse, seemingly resulting in an increased dress size (as tone is lost) so this may be playing a part in the changes you are experiencing. While dealing with your injury, make sure you really focus on nutrition as this will play the biggest role in your weight loss for the time being.

Hope this helps,

Kelly

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