Muscle vs Fat – The Breakdown

This post is from Brett  Day, author of No Time to Weight

Muscle vs Fat- The Breakdown

We all know that muscle is far better for us than fat. Other than looking completely different, what other differences are their between muscle and fat?

To start off with, muscle is dense but very shapely. Fat on the other hand is nothing but bulk with no real shape to it. Fat just sits and jiggles like the blob that it is, while muscle is defined and concentrated.  What does this mean? 5 lbs of muscle does not need as much space as  5 lbs of fat, which means that with more muscle, your whole body will be more shapely and less jiggly.

Muscle contains a lot of water, while a lot of fats weight is just that, fat. Fat contains a very low percentage of water.

Muscle will burn 5 – 6 calories per pound, per hour, where fat will burn just 1 – 2 calories per pound, per hour. The above picture shows 5 lbs of fat and 5 lbs of muscle. The muscle above would burn at the very least 25 calories per hour, while the 5 lbs of fat would burn just 5 calories per hour. Break that down even further and you will see that every 5 lbs of muscle that your body contains would burn a whopping 600 calories per day, while the fat would burn just 120 calories per day.

When starting a new diet or new lifestyle, it is important that you remember to incorporate a strength building program into your routine. If you do not workout with weights, or do any other type of heavy lifting, your body will actually burn through lean muscle as well as stored fat. After reading the above you can now understand why maintaining as much lean muscle as possible is important. The more muscles you have, the more calories you burn when you exercise and rest

At the end of the day, lean muscle will help keep your body looking great and will help you stay fit and healthy.


  1. Great post! I know when I first learned that the body burns through muscle for energy, it changed the way I looked at losing weight.

  2. I understood the logic behind having to adding cardio to anything involving building muscle as I had a girlfriend that started complaining of getting bigger as a result of ‘only’ doing crunches. While it made sense that she had a killer set of abs under a layer of fat, I had no knowledge of muscle density, water or the amount of calories a muscle can burn. Thank you, this was great information. I do have one question, however, can you explain what “burn through muscle” means?

  3. Hi Sabrina, indeed if there is a layer of fat on our abdomin and we just do abdominal exercises such as crunches, we will be building muscle on top of the fat, making the whole area look bigger! This is true of any body part. It is important to incorporate cardio exercise and a low calorie diet in order to lose the fat. Fat doesn’t turn into muscle. With the combination of diet and proper exercise we can lose fat and build muscle.
    However, if we only do cardio, not only will we burn fat, but and also we will burn muscle mass (burn through muscle). That is why it is important to incorporate strength training as well. to build lean muscle mass.

  4. OK, thanks! I understand now.

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