You’ve perhaps conducted some investigation on how to construct muscle and incinerate fat, but there’s a decent possibility you came across some fallacies along the way. For instance, unqualified sources may have informed you that muscle is heavier than fat, that you can’t shed fat while gaining muscle, or that you should decrease your fat consumption if you want to drop weight. Let’s put those misunderstandings to rest once and for all so that you can develop a robust, thriving physique without wasting time on nonsense.
Below are five commonly held (but erroneous) notions concerning gaining muscle and burning fat, along with the genuine truth.
Myth: Muscle Can Transform Into Fat and Vice Versa
The two are completely dissimilar tissues and can’t magically metamorphose into each other. Yes, when you’re sedentary, your muscle fibers will probably shrink while your fat cells will expand — and, when you’re more active, the reverse is likely to occur — but that doesn’t imply that the tissues are substituting one another.
Myth: Muscle Weighs More Than Fat
A pound of fat and a pound of muscle weigh exactly the same. However — and this is where the confusion arises — the volume of muscle is denser and more compact. “It would take four pounds of muscle to occupy the space of one pound of fat,” clarifies Michele Olson, Ph.D., senior clinical professor of exercise physiology at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama. That’s why you might observe results in the mirror without the number on the scale declining.
Myth: Consuming Fat Causes Weight Gain
In reality, the opposite is true — if you’re consuming beneficial fats, that is. Nourishing fats such as those present in nuts and fish, for example, will keep you satiated for a longer duration and provide a plethora of vital nutrients. Want evidence? Individuals who adhere to a Mediterranean diet abundant in olive oil and nuts lost more weight over a two-year period than those who adhered to a low-calorie diet, according to one study. Furthermore, they were more likely to sustain that weight loss. (Here’s more information on the benefits of a Mediterranean diet, plus a meal plan to help you get started.)
“These foods, as well as fish, avocado, and olives, encompass omega-3 fats, omega-6 fats, and monounsaturated fats that are heart-healthy and satiate you so you don’t overindulge,” expounds Olson.
Just observe your portion sizes, nevertheless: “Consuming a greater amount of calories than you expend daily will result in the accumulation of fat,” states sports medicine physician Jordan Metzl, M.D.
Myth: You Can Identify Fat Reduction
“When your body requires energy, it draws from all of your fat cells, not just the specific areas you want to focus on,” asserts Olson. In other words, to diminish fat from any place, you must diminish fat from every place. Another fact: The initial place where you accumulate fat usually happens to be the final place from which you’ll eliminate it. “When you easily accumulate fat in one area, it indicates that your body has the optimal ability to store it there,” remarks Keith Baar, Ph.D., a professor at UC Davis School of Medicine.
Myth: You Can’t Build Muscle and Reduce Fat Simultaneously
To shed fat, you need to expend more calories than you consume (commonly known as a caloric deficit). However, in doing so, your body also burns some muscle. Thus, it is common to experience a loss of muscle mass while losing weight.
The method to avoid this is to consume additional protein, based on a study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Their research discovered that individuals who did so while following a high-intensity weight-training regimen managed to increase muscle mass while reducing fat. “Obtaining sufficient protein supplies your body with the amino acids it requires, preventing the breakdown of muscle for them,” states study author Stuart Phillips, Ph.D.
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