Young woman holding bench press.

By: Chelsea Swanson, RDN, LD 

A pound of fat and a pound of muscle, of course, weigh the same, a pound. However, muscle and fat are visually different in mass and density. A pound of fat is larger and bulkier, while a pound of muscle is more dense and smaller in size.

The fat will take up more space and look bigger than muscle. So, when we lose fat, we can visualize a difference in our body because there is more mass being lost. 

Aside from the physical difference between muscle and fat, there are other differences between the two. One difference is that muscle utilizes more calories than fat. Therefore, the more muscle in the body can lead to more calories burned throughout the day.

Muscle mass can also contribute to maintaining bone density and improved metabolism. There are certain actions we can take to maintain or gain muscle in our bodies. Getting adequate protein, for example, can assist with maintaining muscle mass during the weight-loss process. 

Good Sources of Protein 

  • Lean meats: Beef, Pork, Venison
  • Poultry: Chicken & Turkey
  • Fish/Seafood: Crab, Lobster, Fish, Tuna
  • Eggs
  • Dairy: Greek Yogurt, Cottage Cheese 
  • Plant-Based: Tofu, Beyond meat 

Another beneficial action to assist in maintaining or gaining muscle is strength and resistance training. This type of physical activity can be done by anyone at any age. It is common for muscle mass to decrease with age. If you are new to strength training or just want a reminder, here are a few good practice tips for success. 

  • Use correct form
  • Listen to your body
  • Progress with weights as able 
  • Warm up with brief aerobic activity- walk, jog, jumping jacks. 
  • Stretch after the strength training workout to ease muscles and increase flexibility 
  • Include rest days in between to allow for muscle recovery 

There are many different exercises that can be done for strength training. A lot of strength training can be done in the comfort of your home using your own body weight or equipment you have at home. Otherwise, many fitness centers and gyms have an abundance of equipment available to work many different muscles in the body. 

  • Pushups, plank, squats, lunges
  • Free weights and dumbbells 
  • Resistance bands or machines 

Looking to Workout at Home?

Our Fitness Crew at Livea has put together great exercise videos with our “Get Up and Move” series to learn tips on how to do a variety of different exercises. There are different types of workout videos like yoga, abs, total body, and more!  You can also find delicious recipes to help you get more protein and veggies, too!


Resources:

Edda Cava, Nai Chien Yeat, Bettina Mittendorfer, Preserving Healthy Muscle during Weight Loss, Advances in Nutrition, Volume 8, Issue 3, May 2017, Pages 511–519

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, November 21). How to start a weight-training program. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/weight-training/art-20047116. 

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, November 10). Can you boost your metabolism? Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/metabolism/art-20046508. 

Roland, J. (2020, May 12). How to start lifting weights: A beginner’s guide. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-start-lifting-weights#weight-training-exercises. 

Westcott, Wayne L. Ph.D. BUILD MUSCLE, IMPROVE HEALTH, ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal: July/August 2015 – Volume 19 – Issue 4 – p 22-27. doi:10.1249/FIT.0000000000000134

Wood, M. (2021, May 19). Differences between muscle tissue and body fat. Michael Wood Fitness. https://michaelwoodfitness.com/2014/05/04/differences-between-muscle-tissue-and-body-fat/.