Can you turn fat into muscle?

If you’re looking for the short answer, unfortunately, it’s NO. You can’t turn fat into muscle in the same way you can’t turn muscle into fat. Why? Because fat and muscle are two different types of tissues in our bodies. Sure, you can burn fat and build muscle as two different processes, but anyone claiming they have a method of “turning one into the other” is claiming to practice alchemy. 

Losing weight, or body fat is a matter of energy (i.e. thermodynamics). In bare-bones terms, losing fat is about increasing your energy expenditure over your energy consumption which puts you at a caloric deficit. The challenge, however, is to retain muscle whilst losing fat. With that said, how do you lose body fat whilst retaining or even possibly gaining muscle?

Firstly, it’s easier to lose both muscle and fat if you don’t supplement your caloric deficit with the right type of nutrition. When you’re in a caloric deficit, it’s imperative to include sufficient protein in your diet. Studies have shown that decreased protein intake is strongly correlated with a loss in muscle tissue. Brad Shoenfeld, assistant professor of exercise science at the City University of New York's Lehman College says that when the body is in a caloric deficit, the body burns stored muscle to make up for the lack of protein intake in your diet. As a result, muscle cells shrink. Schoenfeld recommends including 1g of protein per pound of body weight or about 2.2g of protein per kilogram of body weight for muscle gain. For instance, if you weigh 70 kilograms, a modest protein intake is about 154g per day. 

Addition to a protein-rich diet, it’s important to lift weights as it builds muscle. More specifically, incorporating strength resistance training is key. This type of workout taxes your muscles and stimulate muscle tissue growth. Any work out that adds external force to muscle movement (i.e. lifting weights) is a great way to minimise muscle loss during a weight-loss process. Increasing tension in your muscle through such movements is the primary driver for muscle growth. Additionally, progressively overloading your muscles is also important as you embark on your resistance training. The easiest and best way to overload is to add weight on to bar overtime. Obviously, you’ll note that you can’t keep adding weights as frequently or as much as you could have at the start. You might be able to pile on a 5kg plate on each end of the bar as you start your weight lifting journey. However, as you progress, you may find that adding a 1.25kg plate is a brutal plus to the bar. Thus, it’s important to focus on form first rather than simply loading the bar with more weight over time. With that said, be mindful of how your body is reacting to the weight, but also be open to pushing it safely and cautiously. 

Adding resistance bands to workouts are a great way to incorporate tension in your muscle. Using a resistance band for your squats or even hip thrusts can add an extra level of stress that will get your heart pumping and muscle tissues growing. Peach Builder’s range of fabric resistance bands is an investment that will assist you in your weight loss journey all the while helping sculpt your body. A key component in muscle building is time under tension (TUT). TUT is the amount of time your muscle is under stress and monitoring it can emphasise your metabolic response as you will be utilising a hypertrophic training method. Including resistance bands is a great way to add tension to your muscles during your workouts.

If you’re unsure of what type of exercises are best for aiding muscle growth, focus on compound movements. Compound movements engage larger groups of muscles and involve multiple joints. Compound movements are highly beneficial for fat loss because engaging more muscles in a workout means you burn more calories. Additionally, it improves inter-muscular coordination as well as elevating your heart rate thereby improving your overall cardiovascular level. For instance, a squat, deadlift or bench press works more muscles as opposed to a simple bicep curl. Yes, all such exercises are part of a balanced and comprehensive workout, but compound movements offer more benefits for fat loss whilst isolated exercises are ideal for sculpting muscles. Lastly, compound movements also offer a greater degree of dynamic flexibility because you are putting your joints through a range of motion to lengthen the surrounding tissue. 

Although a caloric deficit, sufficient protein intake and compound lifting are three of the most important elements of losing body fat, incorporating high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can be a beneficial addition, as well. No, you don’t have to do hours on a treadmill or elliptical to lose fat but effectively incorporating high-intensity cardio can be very useful. HIIT workouts alternate between near-max-heart-rate periods of activity with low-intensity recovery periods. It’s beneficial in muscle retention because HIIT workouts are short and you don’t have to do it as often as low-intensity workouts. 

In summary, it’s impossible to convert one tissue (i.e. fat) into another (muscle), but there are ways to progress fat loss whilst maintaining and/or increasing muscle in your body. Fat loss doesn’t have to be complicated, simply being in a deficit, consuming sufficient protein and training smart in the gym are three key ways to be on your way to the best body ever.

If you are wanting to grow and tone those glutes, it is important to incorporate a healthy amount of protein within your diet in conjunction with a fitness regime that includes strength training with resistance bands. The Peach Builder booty bands allow women to activate their booty, helping with the ultimate toning and growth.