Muscle versus fat

Here it is…five pounds of fat – the big gross looking blob at the top and five pounds of muscle – the meaty, smaller slab on the bottom.

I have been told more than I can count on my fingers and toes that when people start exercising, they gain muscle and muscle weighs more than fat, which is why you tend to gain weight after starting an exercise regimen. 

Well, guess what people? Five pounds is five pounds. Muscle DOES NOT weigh more than fat. A pound is a pound is a pound. Unfortunately.

Well, this answer really didn’t satisfy me, so I did a little research. One website I looked at – – said that muscle is heavier by volume than fat. It also stated that a five pound pile of fat will take up more space or volume than a five pound pile of muscle. The example the site listed was that a woman weighing 150 pounds with 19 percent fat will look much smaller (and be much healthier) than a woman who weighs the same weight but has 35 percent fat.

Because muscle is more dense than fat, the person with less fat and more muscle looks smaller. 

Are you getting it yet? 

Another website, MSN Health, noted that The rationale that muscle weighs more than fat is often cited as an explanation for why a person might find that they aren’t losing weight or even gaining weight for that matter. The fitness expert said that when you are in an exercise regimen, theoretically, you are losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time and the effects cancel each other out. So in theory, she said you won’t see the desired weight loss as measured by pounds on the scale, even though you may be improving your looks.

She went on to say that people can certainly improve their appearance with exercise without always seeing a change in body weight by becoming more firmer, more sculpted and sometimes – not always – leaner. 

But, this fitness expert also said that it doesn’t mean you are gaining massive amounts of muscle or, for that matter, losing lots of fat. This fitness expert, Martica Heaner, also went on to blather for many more paragraphs, but it was too much to put in here. If you want to check out the link, here it is:

So, does that make it any clearer for you? I didn’t think so. It didn’t really make it any better for me either. I get the whole five pounds of something weighs the same as five pounds of something else. That makes sense. The rest of it? Well, not necessarily so.

I guess the bottom line is that I will keep exercising because I know it is good for me and I won’t necessarily worry too much about the numbers on the scale. My smaller clothes still fit and that’s all that matters, right?

2 thoughts on “Muscle versus fat

  1. Whenever I started exercising real hard, I would gain weight when I weighed in at WW. Men especially, but women too, respond to exercise by adding muscle. If you add muscle, you add weight, period. You may be losing fat in the process, which will counter some of the weight gain, but until your mucle gain levels off, don’t expect to see massive losses at the scale. You will, like you said, enjoy wearing smaller clothes, but more importantly, you will start having more energy, which will make you want to exercise even more!


  2. In reading this and other information I gleaned from reading & lectures over time, it totally makes sense. As GFB pointed out, you will gain muscle weight when you are becoming fit, so ultimately it is the way your body looks and feels, not the “magic number” on the scale. Numbers on the scale may make it easier to prove for some people, but when your weight bumps up but your clothes don’t ‘snug up’, it generally means you are still on track. Keep up the good fight–you are doing an awesome job!


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