Understanding Losing Fat vs. Gaining Muscle

Understanding Losing Weight vs. Gaining Muscle | Pancakes & Push-Ups

Lifting weights is the best way to compliment good nutrition if your goal is fat loss, but the scale may not always reflect a number in your favor.

I am going to dive into the differences of losing fat vs gaining muscle and explain why the scale isn’t always your best indicator of weight loss.

While cardio is great for your heart and aids in losing pounds, it also breaks down muscle.  Weight training, just like cardio, does get your heart rate up, aids in losing fat but also GROWS and preserves muscle instead of breaking it down.  So why not do what is going to get you the most bang for your buck?

The losing weight is the tricky part of the equation when growing/gaining muscle because you can gain 3 pounds of lean muscle mass, weigh more on the scale, but in essence be much leaner (smaller, tighter, toned)  than you were before.

Why Gaining Muscle Makes You Gain Weight

Losing Weight vs. Gaining Muscle | Pancakes & Push-Ups

As you can see from the picture above, muscle takes up less space in the body.  So while a pound of fat and muscle each technically weigh the same, you can have a lot more dense muscle in a smaller body, hence that “tight” and “toned” look most strive for.

Here is an example on why the scale is your enemy.  On the right, I am 8 pounds heavier on the scale than on the left.  Why? Because in the right picture I have more lean muscle mass.  On the left, while I am still lean, I have more fat.  Do I care that the scale says I’m close to 10 pounds more? I may have used to, but not anymore.  Weight Training Before & After Photos | Pancakes & Push-Ups

I love to lift weights because the more muscle I grow, not only do I get leaner, but my metabolism gets faster (even when resting) hence, the more food I’m able to eat.  To me, it’s a win win!  Did I mention the more muscle you have the leaner you are?

As you work on losing fat, it’s very common to lose muscle as well which means your metabolism will eventually slow down making it even more difficult to lose weight if you don’t weight train to keep or build muscle.

So the more lean muscle mass you can build, the leaner you will become.

How Does the Scale Come Into Play?

If 2 people each lost 15 pounds but only 1 person gained the 3 pounds of lean muscle mass, that person lost more fat.  The person that didn’t gain the muscle lost muscle and fat.

So,  you put on 3 pounds of lean muscle mass.  Now, the scale has gone up 3 pounds, but you have actually lost more fat and have raised your resting metabolic rate than the person that only did the cardio that lost on the scale.

The below photo  is one of my clients.  She works her ass off every day in the gym and is 90% on plan with her diet.  She weighs the same amount in both pictures.  Is she frustrated? Hell yes!  But I try to explain to her that the scale is not an accurate measurement when lifting weights like she has done the past 6 months with my workouts.

Yes, my clients check in by weighing themselves, because we need some form of measurement to go by, but progress pictures every 4 weeks shows me ALOT more of how far they have come than any number on a scale.

Weight Training Before & After Photos | Pancakes & Push-Ups

Take Home Point

Don’t be so wrapped up in what the scale says because in the case of building lean muscle it’s your worst enemy.  The scale does not take in to account muscle mass, water, hormones, sodium and various other factors. It is simply a lump sum of your body.

Oftentimes we are so wrapped up with a little device that sits on our bathroom floor that we lose sight of our goals.  Remember, the scale does not take in to account lean muscle mass and body fat percentages, hence, is sometimes your worst enemy when losing weight.

So if you are constantly on track with your diet and working hard in the gym and the scale is actually going up, if doesn’t necessarily mean you are gaining “weight”.   Remember, progress pictures and measurements are way more effective to measure progress!

As always, please feel free to leave any comments or questions.  I love to hear your thoughts!

Want to build muscle? Click here to download any one of my training programs for you to do at home or in the gym.
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