Technically you cannot turn fat into muscle.
But you can develop muscle while you burn off fat. Quite effectively actually, and one thing that many won’t tell you (usually the ‘diet’ industry types) is, starting your muscle development when your body has excess stored fat, can be a good thing.
You do not need to lose the fat before you start weight training. But do follow your medical practitioner’s directions; she/he may want you to manage your weight first.
How to Turn Fat into Muscle
Before you even read another word I will tell you – this is no walk in the park. If you want to pack on muscle mass and show up at the beach looking like a Greek God – you will have to WORK!
No fluff here. Criers, complainers, wannabe’s and wishful thinkers are not welcomed. Do not pass this point unless you are ready for reality.
Welcome body builder trainee
There are two main reasons why you melt fat off when you build muscle. One is because of the diet prescribed (sample included below) is higher protein then a regular diet, and a leaner, cleaner diet than you are probably on right now. The other reason is because muscle development initiates more fat burning than regular training – muscles are hungry, calorie burning, engines.
Think of your being overweight as just a means of having a built in ‘buffer’ of fuel storage and you are now ready to rock the house.
You may have heard of competitive body builders who pack on some fat during off-season. This is the time they are working hard to add muscle to their physique. Then they get totally shredded again with a more muscular body when they hit the stage the following season.
It isn’t necessary to add on extra body fat in order to gain muscle. The men and women you see in bodybuilding magazines do this for a living and some are just more comfortable during their training phase if they don’t have to be so strict with their weight so they can concentrate more on good food and training.
To actually build muscle you only use a small percentage of the calories your body burns in a day. Basically, of the energy released during caloric expenditure, about 50% is used to keep you alive. This is your RMR or your resting metabolic rate. This is to keep your blood pumping, breathing, and fulfilling your body’s basic metabolic needs.
Your brain gets around 25% of the energy. Think about that for a minute. Thinking uses about 25% of the total calories burned.
Exercise and body movement like walking, lifting, and general daily activities burns about 20% of the calories.
That leaves only 5% which is all the body uses in the process of muscle development.
Don’t lose heart yet because what happens as you build, the total calories burned increases. This is because muscles take more fuel to feed and, your RMR increases even while you sleep. As you build muscle the fat starts to burn off faster, and faster, and faster!
Eat like a bodybuilder
In order to lose fat and gain muscle you need to adjust your diet so you are getting enough protein for muscle development and repair, but also balanced with enough of a calorie deficit that your body will burn off fat but not think you are starving like what happens on basic low calorie diets. If your body thinks you are starving you risk the chance that it will begin to break down muscle for fuel – which is the complete opposite of what you want.
Protein on average should be around 1g per pound of bodyweight. This should be divided among all your meals so you get a fairly even amount of protein coming in per day. If you are quite obese you may want to make this 1g per pound of lean bodyweight. Eating 5 – 6 times a day ensures that your body is being properly nourished and giving you a supply of energy so you don’t go into cannibalistic (muscle burning) state.
Some examples of good protein sources are:
Lean ground beef
Canned tuna Eggs
Get One Year Subscription to Muscle & Fitness There are online calculators you can use, but if you are really serious about all this – a great tool for calculating calories in and out, as well as a massive record keeping ability would be something you may want to consider.
The basics of a body building diet is to eat unprocessed and only natural foods. Eat lots of fresh vegetables and not overcooked. Your fats should be less than 30% of your dietary intake and be healthy fats from nuts, olives, flax, avocado’s, salmon etc. Carbs should not be simple carbs – no sugar, highly refined flour, alcohol (sorry), or soft drinks.
Some examples of good carbs are:
Brown cooked rice
Whole-wheat bread/ pita
Whole wheat pasta
Always be sure to have breakfast, a pre-workout meal and post-workout meal. If you aren’t sure what good eats there are for a body builder, you may consider picking up a great meal planner and cook-book designed for the weight lifting machine you are.
Sample meal plan
This is a simple meal plan sample for a body builder person who weighs around 180 – 200lbs.
Meal 1 (breakfast)
4 whole eggs plus 4 egg whites 2 cups cooked oatmeal (quick oats – NOT packaged
Meal 2 (snack)
6 oz. canned white tuna packed in water. 3 slices whole-wheat bread 1 Tbsp. low fat mayo
Meal 3 (lunch)
7 oz. lean ground beef 1 cup cooked whole wheat pasta 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce 1 cup sliced zucchini
Meal 4 (preworkout)
2 Tbs all natural peanut butter 2 cups cooked oatmeal
Meal 5 (postworkout)
1 cup black beans 1 cup brown rice
Meal 6 (dinner)
6 oz. chicken breast 1 large sweet potato 1 cup broccoli
Meal 7 (bedtime)
1/2 cups low fat cottage cheese 1 cup cooked whole wheat pasta 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce
DAILY TOTALS: 3,769 calories, 363 g protein, 433 g carbs, 69 g fat
Muscle building workouts
Your workouts for building muscle will be hard core mass producing workouts.
There are great ideas you can get from magazines and there are a couple I do suggest you get subscriptions to. They are fabulous motivators. But for real life training consider a personal trainer who is also a body builder or a well-structured online program designed for daily instructional mass building that allows for custom build workout plans.
Your training will also include cardio daily. Cardio is instrumental in burning fat and building your muscles because it helps to train your body on a metabolic level to communicate your expectations to your muscles.
Don’t start using your bathroom scales as any kind of real measurement of your success. In the beginning of your mass building phase, if you are quite overweight, you will notice a quick weight loss. This will eventually slow because your scales will also be measuring the weight of your muscle mass you are building too.
To journal your progress the scales are ok but you will likely be more motivated by taking body measurements as well. For more accurate fat loss record keeping, have someone measure your body fat using skin fold calipers or even more accurate is a water tank or Hydro-densitometry.
Staying motivated is important. What a lot of fitness plans don’t tell you – is what you can really expect when starting out building muscle and losing fat. You can expect to be tired, hungry, and sore. It means you have to find ways to motivate yourself when all you want to do is sleep. Although scheduling naps is a good thing and if you do get a chance to nap – take advantage of it.
By journaling your progress you will see gains, quite quickly. This can be in the form of a workout journal, weight loss, or daily thoughts. It isn’t uncommon to see people with one big book that includes everything.
For quick motivation try keeping images of people who have already achieved what you want for yourself. Buying magazines with pictures of your idols can be very helpful. Keep these pictures close by.
When you feel hungry, sore, or tired, make a note of it in your journal. Make adjustments to your diet (you should not be overly/crazy hungry), stretch and drink lots of water for healing muscles, and rest or nap when you can.
Sleep in a comfortable bed and try to get 7 – 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night.
Don’t get lost
Ensure each workout day is pre-planned. This means you know what you are doing, how much weight you are shooting for and that each meal is planned, cooked, and ready to eat. No wandering around trying to make it up as you go along.
Building a muscular body is work, very rewarding work. It takes time, concentration, and dedication. It takes knowledge and skill.
When starting out it is best to acquire that knowledge and skill by hiring someone who already has it. You can hire them in person, virtually, or in books.
Body building is a serious sport.