Muscle vs. Fat Weight: Why the Scale isn’t Important
April 7, 2017
Imagine you’ve been working out hard and eating right for the last several weeks. You go to step on the scale to check your progress, and you’re shocked to discover you’ve gained five pounds! How is that even possible when you’ve worked so hard? Here, you’ll learn the difference in muscle vs. fat weight and why you can’t always judge your progress by the numbers on the scale.
A Pound Is a Pound… or Is It?
Imagine you have a pound of feathers in one pile and a pound of gravel in another. If you compare those two piles side-by-side, you’ll quickly realize that the feathers are lighter in density, so a pound of feathers takes up more space than a pound of denser rocks. When it comes to muscle vs. fat weight, the same principles apply. Muscle is far denser than fat, which means a pound of muscle won’t take up as much space as a pound of fat.
From Fat to Muscle
With the above information in mind, seeing the numbers on the scale climb as your pant size drops starts to make a little more sense. If you’re consuming a healthy diet, then your body is delving into its fat stores each time you work out for energy. The fat cells release their energy to fuel your hard-working muscles, causing fat to shrink and muscles to grow. This means that with every single workout, you’re losing some fat and gaining some muscle, even if it isn’t apparent at first. Again, muscle is denser than fat, so it’s possible for your body to shrink before your very eyes, even as the numbers on the scale climb.
The Scale doesn’t Dictate Your Health
Another important point to consider in the muscle vs. fat weight debate is the fact that the scale doesn’t necessarily dictate how healthy you are. For example, if you gained five pounds but you know that you’ve been eating right and working out regularly, then there’s one thing for certain – your body is getting healthier. Your muscles (including your heart) are growing stronger. Your immunity is improving. Your risks of hypertension, heart attack, and stroke are starting to plummet. This is all true, even if the scale tries to tell you otherwise.
More Muscle Is a Good Thing
Finally, it’s important to consider the benefits of muscle. When comparing muscle vs. fat weight, your metabolism is a huge factor, too. The more fat stores your body has, the slower your metabolism becomes. It’s become used to storing the food you eat. On the other hand, the more muscle your body has, the faster your metabolism becomes. Your body can also become used to burning calories to fuel the muscle mass. This means that when you have more muscle, you’ll burn more calories all the time, even if you’re just sitting on the couch watching Netflix.
If the numbers on the scale seem shocking, keep in mind that muscle vs. fat weight is likely the cause. You’re gaining muscle, which is improving your metabolism, your appearance, and your health in general with every passing day. Don’t let the numbers discourage you; in fact, a few more pounds may indicate that you’re doing everything right.