You Need Muscle to Burn Fat
This is one of the most overlooked aspects of a fitness program. Your muscle is highly metabolically active. It is responsible for many of the calories you burn each day. One pound of muscle burns approximately 5.67 calories a day, whereas a pound of fat only burns approximately 1.98 . And since your muscle is always metabolically active, it is always burning calories. That’s right, you burn fat even while you are sleeping. I guess you really can burn fat while you sleep.
Muscle has this great quality, yet people are still so adverse to having muscle. Are you afraid of having muscle? You know who you are. You’re afraid of bulking up – afraid of getting too big. You just want to be toned.
For those with that mentality, let me give you a little reality check. Being toned means nothing more than having muscle and being lean. Building muscle is hard work. You don’t just work out a few times and become huge. You would think that some people have an allergic reaction to weights based on how they talk. It’s as if they could just look at a weight set and start to swell up.
All rants aside, if you are worried about being bulky, that is 100% an effect of your diet. If you start lifting weights and don’t change your poor diet, you are going to get bigger. Your muscles will get larger, but your fat mass will potentially stay the same or even get larger – resulting in a larger body mass.
Weight Loss vs Fat Loss
Don’t be afraid if you are putting on muscle but your weight is not going down. If you are building muscle but your weight is unchanged, you are still losing body fat. And isn’t our #1 goal to lose fat?
Getting back on topic, why then do you need to build muscle to burn fat? Well, your muscles contain these little cellular power plants called mitochondria. Mitochondria are responsible for the oxidation of fat. It’s where fatty acids go to be metabolized. The more muscle you have, the more mitochondria you have. The more mitochondria you have, the more efficient your fat-burning process will be, even while at rest.
The Primary Fuel Source for Muscle is Fat
You might burn a few hundred calories during your workout, but you burn thousands of calories throughout the rest of the day. When at rest, the primary fuel source your muscles use is fat. Your muscle is constantly tearing itself down and building itself up. It is a highly energy intensive activity. The more muscle you have, the looser you can be with your diet, and the more food you can eat without having to worry about putting on weight.
If your fitness program does not contain any form of resistance exercise, you need to add it in. Walking or other low-intensity exercise is nice. I consider that active recovery or leisure activity. That’s exercise you do to help you recover from high-intensity workouts. It’s not something that I would replace intense exercise with. You need to be doing some form of intense exercise a few times a week to really see body composition changes.
And remember, intense is relative to the person doing it. If walking is intense for you, then start there. As your fitness level increases, so will the difficulty of the exercises you choose.
So build that muscle. It helps you be more functional in day to day tasks. It helps keep you healthy. It looks sexy. It boosts your metabolism, and it’s the only proven way that I know of to burn fat in your sleep.