DO MUSCLES TURN TO FAT WHEN YOU STOP TRAINING?

DO MUSCLES TURN TO FAT WHEN YOU STOP TRAINING?

We all know how much hard work is needed to get toned and trim. It is sometimes even harder to stay that way. If you have been training hard and then slow right down, the muscle definition can vanish quickly.  It is all too easy to find a layer of fat appearing on top.

This effect has led many people to believe that muscles transform into fat. Let’s have a look at how this myth arose, and what you can do to keep up your fitness.

ARE MUSCLES AND FAT DIFFERENT THINGS?

Yes. Muscle cells are designed to use energy, while fat cells are designed to store it. Muscle cells and fat cells have different functions and one cannot turn into another.

SO IF MUSCLE DOESN’T TURN TO FAT, WHERE DOES IT GO WHEN TRAINING STOPS?

To understand this, we need to know how we build muscle in the first place. Exercise does not create new muscles, but increases the size of the fibres in the ones that we have. To make this happen, muscles must be stressed. The resulting tiny tears in the muscles turn into bigger fibres as they heal. This is why rest days between training bouts are so important.

If you stop the training programme, the muscle fibres are no longer loaded. This means that they cannot maintain their size, and begin to shrink.

WHERE DOES THE EXTRA FAT COME FROM?

Muscles are energy burners. If training stops and they start to shrink, the energy requirement reduces. If we keep up the same calorie intake as during an intensive training programme, the excess will have to go somewhere. That ‘somewhere’ is your fat cells. We all need some body fat to stay alive and healthy. Correct body fat ranges depend on gender, age and fitness level.

Muscle may not transform into fat, but if training slows or stops and calorie intake stays the same it will look that way. So don’t waste all your hard work. Keep up those gym visits , keep body fat down and maintain that muscle tone.

 


The Author

Jessica Ambrose

Jessica is a fitness writer who loves long distance running, yoga, strength training and healthy eating.

Comments

Michael A.
3 May 2017

Michael A.

I remember people saying to me 'your muscles will turn to fat' if I cut back on the exercise. It does seem a common misconception, but thankfully not true.

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