Did My Muscle Turn Into Fat?

The sad answer to the question is:

ABSOULTELY NOT! I know many of you would like to think that, but this popular question/idea is wrong for so many reasons and I often wonder how it came around in the first place. But hold on! If you think or thought that same thing, please, please, please, do not be offended. You are here to be educated and freed from your moments of physiological ignorance. The myth that ravaged your mind and made you a slave to fashionable conjecture for so long is officially destroyed in this blog.

The Truth

Muscle and fat grow completely independent of one another.

You “grow” or develop fat in two ways: by adding fat cells and by increasing fat cell size. As you continue to consume unused energy substrates like fatty acids, carbohydrates and sugars, the body stores it as fat. Research is beginning to demonstrate that varying parts of the body stores fat differently (upper and lower body) once storage thresholds are reached. Upper body (abdominal, chest and interstitial space around organs) and lower body (thighs, hips, gluteal region) either add to the cumulative fat cell number or overstretch existing fat cell. Nothing concrete at this time, but apparently upper body takes on more weight respective to lower body. You are probably more likely to see an overweight person with a large belly and small legs (below the knees) than vice versa.

Muscle growth happens on a much larger sophisticated scale. The popular term is muscle hypertrophy. It is an increase in the size of a muscle through an increase in the size of its component cells. This differs from muscle hyperplasia, which is the formation of new muscle cells. Depending on the type of training, the hypertrophy can occur through increased sarcoplasmic volume or increased contractile proteins. Adding protein (ingested from a healthy diet) at the ends of muscle fibrils as needed to overcome resistance reflects the change in length and volume. This comes at the expense of stress (exercise induced). The more a person continues to stress a muscle my adding to the daily workload; either weight training, aerobic/anaerobic exercise, or even job related tasks (roofing, plumbing, carpentry, etc), muscle begin to make changes at the cellular level. Therefore, you will have soreness after bouts of excessive muscle stress if it was beyond your normal amounts. The body will then attempt to compensate and build more muscle to accommodate so that you do not “feel” sore after the next episode.

SO…

Nowhere in here do you see anything that suggests the fat helped to develop muscle or vice versa. As a matter of fact, they do the exact opposite. Exercise has a positive side effect of increasing lean muscle mass, which helps to drive metabolism higher and cause the body to use stored energy (fat) to fuel the processes along that regulate body functions at a more efficient rate. So the continuous building of muscle requires more energy beyond the energy systems that operate during the day (while you are awake) and tap into the ones that run during your sleep (i.e. Beta Oxidation). As you continue to improve your overall basal (resting) metabolic rate, you will continue to burn away excess fat and muscle will form in its place. Marinating this balance takes energy – a lot of it. Stop working out and continue to consume excessive amounts of calories that goes unused and your body will break down the muscle so that it can spend energy on vital systems that need it more (skin repair, immune system, digestion). That’s when more fat returns and muscle goes away. Thus, celebrating the ideal of muscle turning into fat.

Suggestion:

Stick with it! If you are exercising and feeling uninspired, don’t stop. Find a way to make it work. Change up the routine, add a friend, and even change venues if you have to. I join the Apostle Paul in Ephesians chapter 3 verses 14-16 when he says: 14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being…I pray that you may be strengthened and strive to be the very best that you can be for today and the next day. Be blessed.


 

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