OK, first the bad news, you can’t actually turn fat into muscle tissue. It just doesn’t work like that. You can’t turn bone, hair, or belly button fluff into muscle either, for similar reasons – it’s simply a different organ.
But don’t head off in a huff just yet, there’s good news too... It is very possible to lose fat and gain muscle. Although you’re not literally turning body fat into muscle, it might seem like it, which is how this myth has probably come about.
Some tips on how to lose fat and gain muscle:
Train to gain
It’s a good idea to focus first on building up muscle before cutting back on your food intake. The best type of exercise for building muscle is weight training (or resistance training).
Plan to train at least three days a week (but no more than five for beginners) using exercises that target all the major muscle groups.
For best results use weights that are heavy enough to wear you out quickly - you shouldn’t be able perform more than about 10 repetitions of each exercise you do. Lifting a light weight lots of times is not a great way to gain muscle.
A personal trainer or gym instructor can help you devise a good exercise programme and you can always leave a question in the comments box below or post in the forum to get advice from the Fitness Rocks community.
Go for the Burn
Here’s some more good news – once you’ve added extra muscle to your body, you’re going to burn more calories even when you’re not exercising, meaning you don’t have to cut back so much on your food intake to lose fat. Diet is a huge factor in fat loss, however, many experts argue that it’s even more important than exercise.
Cardio exercise (where you move quickly and get breathless) can help increase your calorie burn even more, as will continuing with your weight training, but you will need to change the way you eat.
Again, an exercise professional can help you devise a good programme and the Fitness Rocks community is always here to help.
Fat Loss Diet
There are far too many different types of fat loss diet plans to list here. We recommend you do some research to find the one you’re most likely to be able to stick to in the long term. Remember, even after you’ve lost fat you will need to maintain some of the changes you make to your diet (although it shouldn’t have to be so restrictive).
Whatever you do, don’t go overboard and starve yourself - that will almost certainly result in you going back to your old ways and gaining back any fat you lost, and then some.
Talk to a nutritionist if you can, ask friends who have lost weight (and kept it off for more than a year) what worked for them, and feel free to ask any questions you have using the comments box below.
This is a simple tip, but surprisingly important for fat loss – drink lots of water.
Other beverages will help keep you hydrated, but plain water is what your body likes best, just as it comes.
You need at least six glasses a day just to maintain hydrated, without it people tend to feel lethargic and can think they’re hungry when really it’s just thirst. When you’re exercising you’ll need to drink even more, depending on how much you sweat.
A study conducted in the US found that overweight people who drank two cups of water before each meal lost five pounds more than dieters who didn't increase their intake of water. Plus, the water-drinkers kept the weight off more successfully when revisited a year later. So get it down you!
Got something to say about how to turn fat into muscle? We’d love to hear from you, leave a comment below.
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