MoCo Monday Fit Tip: Does Muscle “Burn” Fat?

Demetra Eftimiades (Deme), is an online fitness coach here in the Washington D.C. area. She has also been featured for transforming her body changing 50 lbs of fat into muscle. Deme has been featured in Washingtonian,,, POPSUGAR, and many more.

Have you ever wondered if by building muscle you are in fact “burning” fat in the process? What an amazing thing that would be. It would be the ultimate act! But sadly my dear friend… it is physically impossible.

Fat does not turn into muscle, nor can muscle turn into fat! There’s no amount of cardio, supplements, or clean eating you could do to change that.
But, what if there was a way to build LEAN muscle and lose fat, just not simultaneously? Well, you’re in luck because I’m about to break it down for you.
To start, the muscles’ main job is to create power and movement. Fat uses energy that’s stored in our body when needed to complete a task.

If you’re someone who has not done resistance training for over a year, you can lose 15 lbs of fat and gain 15 lbs of lean muscle, all in your first year of lifting if you listen to what I’m about to share with you.

Once you’ve been lifting for a few years, you will have to continue on with cutting and bulking because you are no longer able to partake in body recomposition.

Here We Go!

Step 1: You must be in a calorie deficit if you want to decrease your body fat. You cannot lose if you are in a calorie surplus.

Step 2: Eat protein. Research has shown that when in a calorie deficit, having your protein intake high results in greater fat loss, satiety, and preventing muscle degradation (i.e. losing all your hard earned work)

Step 3: Lift HEAVY weights, specifically compound lifts (Bench, Deadlift, Squat, Pull-ups). This will build strength and muscle each time you add weight to the bar. You will find your strength only progressing more and more. This is what is known as progressive overload!

Step 4: Perform HIIT (Not for everyone! This step is optional)
Cardio has a place in fat loss but it is not always necessary. If you perform too much cardio, you run into problems of losing muscle. Interval training is comprised of high intensity bouts followed by a low intensity. It can help preserve muscle better than low-intensity does as well.

Step 5: Sleep. This one is self explanatory. You will see huge setbacks in your progress if you do not allow your body to rest and recover. Get at least seven hours of sleep per night in order to reap the many benefits of sleep!

To put all these steps together into cliff notes, the bottom line is that turning fat into muscle is a myth. Both have different jobs in the body and you simply cannot turn one into the other. One is meant to build and the other is meant to decrease. However, you can replace body fat with increasing muscle by losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time (but only within that first year or so body recomposition when partaking in weightlifting)

Here are the steps again incase you need a refresher!

  1. Keep a moderate calorie deficit
  2. Eat a good amount of protein
  3. Lift heavy things
  4. Perform HIIT (Not necessary)
  5. Hit the hay

Follow these steps and before you know it you’ll be well on your way to your best self yet!

What are your thoughts on the fat turning into muscle myth? Anything to share? Leave me a comment below!

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Demetra is not a physician or registered dietitian. The content of this article should not be taken as medical advice. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health problem – nor is it intended to replace the advice of a physician. Always consult your physician or qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health.

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