Can you Turn Fat Into Muscle?

You cannot flip through an exercise magazine without seeing an ad with two pictures: the first is of a chubby pale guy holding a newspaper and the second is supposedly the same guy –only he is now tan, blonde, and ripped.

While you may laugh at these ridiculous before and after pictures, they’ve subconsciously led us to believe that it’s possible for unsightly muscle to transform directly into rock-hard muscle. While you can dramatically transform your body from flabby to fit, magically transforming your gut into guns is something that belongs in fitness folklore.

Fat to Muscle Conversion is Metabolically Impossible

Fat and muscle are two completely different tissues in the body. Because they are created, regulated, and destroyed by different (and opposing) metabolic pathways, it’s physically impossible from one to turn directly into the other.

How Fat and Muscle Work

When your body creates a new fat cell, that cell is destined to become a fat cell. When you burn fat, you are actually releasing the stored fat within that cell, not transforming it into another cell.

Muscle cells on the other hand are much more active. They are almost constantly turning over, releasing and receiving amino acids, and of course, lifting moving stuff around.

Because their respective jobs in the body are so incredibly different, evolution has made it so fat cells cannot be turned into muscle. In theory, the calories you release from fat tissue utilization may someday end up as part of new muscle, but this effect is minimal and insignificant.

Two Opposing Goals

Educated bodybuilders see through the fat-to-muscle myth –hence the reason they divide their training into two distinct phases: bulking up and cutting. They understand that, because the body can only go into one direction at once, it’s futile to try to bulk up and lean out the same time. If it were possible for fat to shift into muscle, you would find bodybuilders fat as could be one day and then muscular the next.

Instead, most educated lifters first stimulate growth of muscle mass (and fat mass as an unavoidable byproduct) by lifting and eating more than usual. Then, as a competition approaches, they go into fat burning mode. Despite strength training like mad and burning fat, none of the extra fat creates any more muscle than was originally there. In fact, the goal of cutting is not to put on more mass, but to limit the muscle that gets lost with the fat.

It may be disappointing to learn that your fat can’t transform into muscle mass, but this doesn’t change the basic tenets of a killer physique: strength training, cardio, and a clean diet.

For more infomation on losing fat you might what to check out the guide on how to lose fat.

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