What is the Difference Between Fat and Muscle?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

True stories from the trenches are the best! What happened recently is a good teachable moment for us all, so I’m sharing it with you. Do you understand the difference between fat and muscle?

A woman wrote to me asking for “belly” exercises. She wanted to make her belly fat into muscle. Her chief complaint was that her belly was too big and her pants too tight. She told me she was overweight. I asked her for some more information about what she already did for exercise and she provided me with answers.

Before I tell you what I offered her and how she responded, let me share a few educational pieces of information.

Exercise is essential for fat loss

Can You Turn Fat into Muscle?

We are all born with a certain number of fat cells. These do not change. When we gain fat the fat cells get larger. When we lose fat the fat cells get smaller.

That’s the simplest way of looking at the process.

Next point is that muscle is muscle and fat is fat. They do not become each other.

What Happens When You Gain Muscle?

When you get more muscular you are improving the physique and changing the composition of the muscles you already have. When you lose fat it does not become muscle, you simply shrink the fat cells down in size.

If you have muscles and let them go to waste, they become deconditioned but they are still there.

These are important points so please make sure you understand them.

OK, back to my story.

How to Lose Belly Fat

I attempted to explain to her that her belly fat is a nutritional issue and not a “I need belly exercises” issue. You simply cannot exercise away improper nutritional choices.

Let’s just say she DID NOT LIKE my answer.

That’s okay. Not everyone wants to hear what I have to say, and not every woman is ready to do what it takes to change what she’s not happy about.

When things like this happen, and I’m very glad that it’s RARE, I like to ask myself, “What can I learn from this and what can I pass on to my readers?” In this case, I felt like there was something for us to learn and for me to teach.

Fat is fat, muscle is muscle and the approach to minimizing fat and maximizing muscle is different. Proper nutrition, which I’ll admit, presents the greater challenge for most of us, has got to come first in both of these quests.

Final Thoughts

I get many questions each week from people who have read something I’ve written, or who need some guidance with some particular health or fitness concern. I personally answer all my emails. No administrative assistant or overseas outsourced helper EVER reads or answers my emails. I enjoy getting them and enjoy responding and offering any assistance I can. Got questions? Let me know!

If you feel stuck and need additional support to adopt a new healthy habit or routine, consider working with me. We can partner up in setting goals, drawing on your skills and strengths, and implementing strategies to help you find your way to lasting healthy success.

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For over 15 years, Shelli has been a freelance writer and wellness coach on Joyinmovement. She writes about brain fitness, creating a healthy lifestyle, traveling the world, and making positive habits stick. Stop procrastinating! Take action, join her free newsletter.

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