Muscle Can’t Turn Into Fat

Did you know that muscle can’t turn into fat?

Maybe you’ve heard this before: “I used to be fit, but then I stopped exercising and it all turned to fat.”

How does that work?  What happens to your 6 pack when you stop dieting and working out?  Do those muscles really turn into fat?

The short answer: No.


There’s no process in the human body by which muscle (which is made up of mainly protein, amino acids, and water) can transform itself into adipose (fat).

The human body is pretty amazing, but it can’t magically turn one tissue into another.

What really happens:

A negative change in body composition.

Your muscles will shrink if you discontinue using them in the same way you were when you were exercising. When they shrink they create more space for adipose tissue (fat) to slowly come in and replace them.

Many people still continue to eat the same even though they have stopped exercising. What this does is create an excess of calories that will eventually turn to fat if your body can’t use them up.

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This is evident when your weight stays exactly the same but your body fat percent rises — here’s where the the illusion comes from that your muscle is turning into fat.

Although you may not realize it, you “lose muscle” every minute you are alive.

This is because your muscles, like any other tissue in your body, depend on cell turnover and protein synthesis – which means your body is continually breaking down the protein in your muscles and rebuilding them — you want your body to do this, it’s part of what’s keeping you alive!  

You want to exercise to continue to maintain and build muscle.

Basically, if you once were super active — maybe you played on a sports team or you were doing double days in the gym — and you stopped being as active and continued to eat the same amount of food you would gain body fat.

You can’t eat the same amount of calories and expect to look the same if you’re not expending the calories you used to expend.

If I used to do CrossFit for 4 hours a day, and now I’m only participating in the 1 hour class, there’s no way that I should be eating the same amount that I was eating. My body doesn’t need as many calories to support my activity level.  

Any calories that you consume — whether you are working out or not — are either used or stored. It’s when you consume more calories than your body needs that you will start to gain more fat cells.

At the end of the day, your muscle will never turn into fat. Your muscles will shrink if you don’t use them. And if you eat too much you will store more fat, which will decrease your muscle definition.

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