A POUND IS A POUND: Does muscle weigh more than fat?

Oct 9, 2020 |

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One of the most commonly asked questions in any self-improvement fitness journey is if muscle weighs more than fat. We don’t like it when we hear that the misconceptions of this question cause some to abandon their fitness plans because they don’t feel their efforts are paying off. Let’s break down a bit about why this is hardly a straightforward question and answer.

Does a pound of muscle weigh more than one of fat?

Let’s just get this out of the way — NO*.

Hey, I see that asterisk next to NO – say more?

A pound of muscle does not weigh more than a pound of fat. Why? Well, a pound of muscle and a pound of fat both weigh – wait for it – one pound.

Ok, I’m no math whiz but that makes sense. So then, why is this such a common misnomer?

Muscle is denser than fat. Simply put, muscle takes up less space than one pound of fat. The grey area alluded to before with the “NO” is due to the fact that one cubic inch of muscle does weigh slightly more than one cubic inch of fat and, depending on many other factors, muscle can weigh about 15-20% more than fat. This explains why you might see improvements in a weight loss journey, for instance, but the scale isn’t budging. Remember, for more reasons than this conversation alone, the scale is only measuring one and doesn’t reflect the strides you’ve truly made, overall.

What makes up the number I see on the scale then?

Much, much more than just muscles + fat! When you step up on your trusty bathroom scale, remember that total number – no matter how daunting or perfect it may seem – also includes the weight of your bones and organs, too. The human body doesn’t stop there, though! Water weight is real and the average adult human body is made up of around 60% water and oh so easily fluctuates depending on hydration. So, the next time you weigh yourself and see a few pounds difference, in either direction, remember that it’s most likely not reflective of any one thing.

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