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A Pound is a Pound: The Difference Between Muscle and Fat

Posted on 02/10/2016 at 10:19 AM by Iowa Weight Loss Specialists

A pound of muscle is no different than a pound of fat, right? They both weigh the same, so does it really matter?
The simple answer is yes, it matters. 


Muscle
Muscle is vital to the functioning of your body. Your heart is a muscle just the same as your bicep is a muscle. While one pound of muscle may weigh the same as one pound of fat, muscle is denser and takes up less space than fat. Muscle oxidizes fat at rest and with exercise. This means that regular exercise can give muscles a boost in fat oxidation making it easier to maintain or lose weight.


Fat
Fat is essential. It insulates organs, stores energy, and assists with internal messenger systems. While this may be the case, the percentage of fat that the average human being currently carries with them exceeds the necessary amount for this basic functioning. 

To simplify, let’s look at the following:


An individual who weighs 150 lbs. and has high muscle content will look very different than a 150 lb.-individual with a high fat content.


At rest, 10 lbs. of muscle will burn 50 calories while 10 lbs. of fat will burn 20 calories. This may not seem like a big difference, but over the span of a month, the muscle burns 900 more calories than the fat.


So when you get on the scale and you don’t see the number move but you know that you have been eating right and exercising, remember that you are most likely gaining muscle. Sometimes the best thing to do is step away from the scale and focus on how your clothes fit and how your body is changing visually. The scale is not the only sign that change is occurring. You can lose inches without losing weight.

Check out our Fat vs. Muscle poster on Pinterest!

Sources:
“Muscle cells vs fat cells” Medline Plus http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/imagepages/19495.htm
“Exercise improves fat metabolism in muscle but does not increase 24-h fat oxidation” Exercise and Sport Sciences Review http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/prnc/articles/PMC2885974/
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