Which weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of bricks?
As kids we may have been to naïve to think that a brick and a feather could weigh the same, but the reality we all embrace is that a pound will always equal a pound. The same logic holds true when you consider the ‘muscle weighs more than fat’ argument. I hear this one all the time from both patients and professionals alike that the reason they are not losing any weight is because they have so much muscle and since it weighs MORE than fat, losing weight is simply harder to do.
Well, no. Not really. Not even a little bit. A pound of muscle is equal to a pound of fat. No doubt about it. The truth is that Muscle has a much greater density than fat, meaning it takes up less volume than an equal mass of fat. This explains why it’s possible to get visibly slimmer without a significant drop in weight.
When trying to fight the battle of the bulge, something to always consider is appearance and the way clothes fit, rather than a number on a scale.
It’s possible to look and feel trimmer even if body weight remains the same. Of course, it’s also possible to weigh the same, but look and feel fatter. This is especially evident among the elderly, as muscles tend to shrink with age because damaged muscle cells are repaired at a much slower rate than when they were young. When you factor in reduced physical activity, as we get older, the ratio of muscle to fat tends to decrease.
The bottom line is what we all know already. Too much fat can lead to increase risk for coronary diseases, strokes and diabetes. Determining your target for your ideal muscle to fat ratio can be challenging. Too little fat can cause reproductive dysfunction in woman. Ultimately, we need to find a balance that fits our own needs. So while the hours on the treadmill or at cross fit don’t seem to be making the numbers diminish on that fancy scale you splurged on, use the old fashioned method of a mirror and a notebook that can track your gains in strength and stamina. You will be certain to see the very best you have to offer.