Would you like to know EXACTLY how to turn fat into muscle? Do you also dream of chiseling away that annoying fat to unleash a super toned physique?
Whether you want to shed a few extra pounds, or you want to completely transform your body into your best avatar, the guide below for turning fat into muscle is all you need.
Here is the harsh truth: While you can’t directly convert fat tissues into muscle tissues, you can transform your body composition by building muscle and losing fat at the same time.
You can successfully shed excess fat by burning more calories than you consume, and simultaneously pack on muscle mass through physical training.
A study on overweight police officers discovered that when they were put on a calorie-restricted diet having high protein and casein supplementation, it led to 7 kilos (15.4 lbs) of fat loss and 4.1 kilos (9 lbs) of muscle growth within 12 weeks.
How to Turn Fat into Muscle
Before understanding how to turn fat into muscle, lets grasp the two different aspects:
How you build muscle:
Humans have evolved through thousands of years and all the intelligence is stored within our DNA. When you put physical strain on your body (such as lifting weights), your body grows more muscle in order to ADAPT.
If you are exercising and pumping that iron in the gym, you are providing an environment for your muscles to break down and come back stronger in one way or another.
After a grueling workout, your muscle sends out an SOS signal to satellite cells which further replace or repair the damaged fibers. When paired with the right amount of protein, carbs, and fat), you can ultimately pack on muscle mass.
That’s how you get ’em GAINZ….
How you burn fat:
Burning fat on the other hand ultimately comes down to the creation of a calorie deficit.
To clearly understand the process of shedding excess weight, think of your body as the water tank in your home. Right now it is sitting at a certain level of water (stored energy in terms of body fat). When you utilize more water than you fill each day, you will start depleting the extra deposits.
This is exactly how you burn fat i.e. by burning more calories than you consume each day.
How to Create a Calorie Deficit
But Opwyn, how can I actually create a calorie deficit to turn fat into muscle?
In order to create a deficit, you need to know your daily expenditure of calories. To calculate your daily maintenance calories, you need to find your BMI and then apply it to a simple formula.
(Find your maintenance calories here)
Now suppose your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) is 2800 calories. Here are a few possible ways to create a deficit and burn more fat:
- Cutting back on calories from your regular diet – Eat 500 fewer calories everyday i.e. stay under 2300 calories
- You can eat up to your maintenance calories but work out to burn 500 calories.
- Eat 250 fewer calories than maintenance and burn additional 250 calories from work outs (my personal favorite!)
How Long Does it Take to Turn Fat into Muscle
If you are a complete beginner into your fitness journey, you can harness the benefits of a body recomposition.
What is body recomposition?
Beginners have this surprising ability to lose fat and build muscle rapidly within the first few months of training. If you eat healthily and have enough protein (discussed further in this article) you can expect to see massive results in a short span of time.
If you have been working out in the past, expect to lose 1-2 pounds of fat per week and see noticeable muscle growth within a month.
Fat to Muscle Diet
As discussed earlier, you need a calorie deficit to burn fat and eat enough protein alongside to effectively convert fat into muscle.
Just don’t get greedy by limiting more than 500 calories per day in order to burn more fat (I have been in that trap!). Going too low in calories will be a stupid move as it will leads exhaustion and overtraining in the gym.
Exhaustion shoots up your stress levels and also lead your body into energy-saving mode rather than the desired fat-burning mode.
Work out often, eat lots of healthy bodybuilding food (pasta, quinoa, rice, chicken, lean beef, tuna, oatmeal etc.) and restrict junk food, sugary food, soda or alcohol to turn fat into muscle.
Having a good night’s sleep is equally important since you are tasking your body with two opposite tasks at the same time – Building muscle and Shedding fat.
In one study, sleeping just 40 fewer minutes per day for five consecutive days shifted the source of weight loss from fat to muscle. It implies that you need to sleep well in order to preserve the hard-earned muscle and burn mostly fat.
In another surprising study, participants supplementing with a sleep enhancer (melatonin) were able to turn fat into muscle even when they weren’t exercising or eating any differently.
I know what your sneaky, mischievous brain is thinking right now…. But you DO need to put some efforts in order to see major changes in your physique.
Aim for 8 hours of sleep to supercharge your muscle recovery and keep a healthy balance of hormones. Insufficient sleep can wreak havoc on your progress as it disturbs cortisol levels, which cause a hindrance to fat loss.
Turn Fat into Muscle Workout Plan
For turning fat into muscle, your best weapons are interval training and compound lifts:
How to turn fat into muscle with interval training
High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is the more non-conventional method as compared to the traditional steady-state cardio It helps you burn more calories in a lesser amount of time.
The short intense bursts of vigorous activity, alternated with slower recovery periods, change your body’s normal rhythms, according to IDEA Health and Fitness Association. This shifts your body into a high metabolic state for hours, turning you into a fat-burning machine.
Try 30 to 60-second window of maximum effort, with two- to three-minute recovery periods at a normal pace. You may walk, jog, bike, or perform any other type of cardio you wish for HIIT.
Power of Compound Lifts
Compound exercises in your weight-training routine help you burn more calories while targeting major muscle groups. Since you are trying to turn fat into muscle at the same time, it’s not a good idea to go for isolation exercises.
Movements like leg extensions, for example, will target only your quadriceps, whereas squats hit your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and abs. The best part? As you build greater muscle mass, your metabolism will skyrocket, resulting in faster weight loss.
Go for squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and dips, involving the majority of joint movements, in contrast to isolation exercises such as calf-raise and bicep curls, which involve single joints.
Tips for Turning Fat into Muscle
- A combination of a good diet and exercise will be your best weapon for burning fat and building muscle.
- Both of these goals are completely opposite and hence you need to be patient for your rewards.
- If you are a complete beginner, you can harness the benefits of a body recomposition.
- Overtraining in the gym will lead to exhaustion and prevent fat loss.
- Eat a little under your maintenance calories. Your diet should comprise of high protein and complex carbohydrates.
- Sufficient sleep and rest are equally important to stimulate muscle recovery and facilitate fat loss.
As we have seen, converting fat into muscle needs to be a combination of a calorie deficit, strength training and having a diet rich in protein (for muscle recovery).
- IDEA Health and Fitness Association: Interval Training: The New and Better Way to Train Your Clients?
- IDEA Health and Fitness Association: Quickest Way to Lose Weight for Those Stressful Corporate and Business Professionals
- American College of Sports Medicine: Metabolism is Modifiable with the Right Lifestyle Changes
- Annals of Internal Medicine: Insufficient Sleep Undermines Dietary Efforts to Reduce Adiposity
- University of Minnesota Medical School: Weight Loss Recommendations
- UCLA Student Development Health Education: Bulking Up