Does muscle burn fat?

I’ve seen this mentioned quite a few times on here & it seems like most people are a bit mis-informed or confused about this, so this is to help clarify:

skeletal muscle tissue is metabolically active tissue (just like the brain, heart, liver, etc)

now metabolically active doesn’t directly mean ‘fat burning’, it means that it requires more energy (calories) to operate, this is great because we can maniplulate muscle tissue by adding more, thus raising our metabolic rate

so somebody with a larger amount of muscle tissue will be metabolically in a better position to burn fat, than someone without much muscle tissue… therein lies the mis-understanding.

we know that to add mass, we need to add energy (caloric surplus) eat big to get big etc

we also know that to lose mass, we need to remove energy (caloric deficit), these are the fundamental laws of the universe that we cannot escape no matter how much we’d like to.

Now, the good news is that for a newbie, you CAN do both at the same time for a short period (usually between 3-6 months or so)

and while some people will ‘recomp’ (like tanks) by replacing the scale weight they’ve lost via fat, with new muscle tissue, thus pretty much staying at the same weight… this is rare.

fat loss is & will always be easier & faster than building new tissue for the very, very vast majority, so even for a newbie… in a caloric deficit, while losing fat, you should be able to build some new muscle tissue during that time, but the balance won’t be the same (for most people)

I see it very often when people are staying the same scale weight & just say “I’m losting fat & building muslce, so that’s my weight isn’t changing”… this is not the case for most people, they’re just simply not in a caloric deficit.

another point is that mass for mass muslce tissue is more dense than fat, so it will affect the scale, but at a relativeley small amout…

for example, for an overweight person, it should be easy to drop at least 2lbs per week if you’re on track correctly…

now as a newbie in a caloric surplus, you can be putting on anywhere between 0.5-1lb of tissue per week…

since you’re in a deficit, you can pretty much half that.

so, lets say you’re losing a good 2lbs of fat, and you’re also adding 0.5lbs of muslce per week, means you’d still be losing weight at approx 1.5lbs per week, while losing fat & building muslce at the same time…

the GREAT news is that the added muscle tissue is metabolically active, thus meaning it requires more energy to exist… in short, this means you get to eat MORE calories while burning fat/losing weight.

hope this helps, as people always seem to have the wrong end of the stick when refering to how muscle mass helps support fat loss.

it means you get to eat more overall food (calories) while losing weight, because your body/muscle tissue needs more energy than someone without the extra muscle tissue mass.

so in short, having extra muscle tissue doesn’t just magically burn fat tissue (that’s a mis-conception)… but it does put you in a better position to do so

hope this helps! :slight_smile:


waiting for someone to post a ‘daily mail’ article that refutes this :smile:

1 Like

One thing I want to make clear is that I went from 202 to 180 by dieting alone and at a strict 1,200 calorie per day one with no fried foods and hardly ant carbs.

The “recomp” came later once I started working out with weights where I maintained the same 180 pounds but lost 5% of body fat. I am due for a measuring in a week or so. It will be interesting to see if I was able to lose more fat percentage and if so how much. I think it will be less of a difference this time, but we’ll see.

Oh, as far as the diet goes, I am up to about 1,600 calories per day and still pretty low on carbs (though I had some Udon noodles yesterday with chicken :wink: ).


tanks, I really think your story should be out there in the public, as it’s an awsome one! :blush:

@maxnas This is such a good post. Thank you… it’s not rocket science.

1 Like

@maxnas, it really great to have someone who appreciates the problems of those in ManvFat and cuts through the bullshit telling us how it really is. Great article that every member should read.

1 Like

Cheers mate, my biggest gripe with the fitness and diet ‘industry’ is that its been hijacked by scammers and immoral marketers who want to make a quick buck off your vunerability… it TRULY pisses me off, because they dont care about this stuff, its just a convenient niche to make money for them, and they’ll jump to the next profitable one when it comes up…

Bloody snakes!

1 Like

My tdee is definitely higher than the formulas say thanks to muscle mass. Great post!

1 Like

Just wanted to bump this, as I saw someone post yesterday (can’t remember who or where) saying that they’re planning to burn fat BY building muscle… so hopefully this will help to clarify how it actually works :blush:

Here @maxnas , resolve this conundrum for me (although we’ll have to assume for now I don’t let holiday spirit - well wine actually - scupper the resolution):

On 23rd April I’m off on cycle training camp in Majorca for two weeks. I’ve been many times before, so I know what to expect. Previously I’ve weighed in at around 14 st 12 lbs, this time I’ll be around 13st 8lbs - that info is a bit academic with regard final question/advice sought.

We average 90 miles a day over 13 cycling days, with possibly a day off if you’re legs inform you to do so (a day off = 15 miles at gentle tickover).

The objective should be to get cycling-fit whilst you’re out there as opposed to being race-fit beforehand and kicking arse once you’re there simply to show off (19-25 year olds with too much testosterone!).

We cycle in groups of c20, so pace is decided by general consensus, but those that struggle will have to hang on the back, never try and pace-make near front of small pelaton and drop to a slower-paced group the next day. In short, each day you get what you’re given!

For what it’s worth my likely group pace is around 18mph. There is a re-group at top of major hills/mountains to collect ‘passengers’. I won’t be last up the hills. I definitely won’t be near first!

I like pain. Then again, they all do! Chris Froome is in just as much pain at the top and suffers the same fatigue, he just gets up hills quicker (technical point: he may well recover that much quicker).

Any other year I would arrive on start day pretty fit (I will do this year too). After 3 days my muscle-memory kicks in and I seem to suffer a little less than my compatriots - in truth, with rugby background I just &&&king get on with it and enjoy the pain , but friends say I appear to come into my own as we continue. … I would also not worry about calories, other than to make absolutely sure to consume at breakfast at least as much as I’m likely to need for the day ahead and, come the evening consume enough to make replace what is required from exertions of the day (typical ride will be 60 miles flat 15 climbing - coffee break/biscuits - then 30-40 miles back to base.

In pockets I’ll have dried apricots and a couple of Muesli bars to consume as and when I know I’m likely to have the need (ie) I don’t wait til I’m actually hungry as that’s too late on a distance ride, but eat when I know its highly likely to be necessary for later.

I’ve only ever truly ‘bonked’ (hit the wall in marathon parlance - sugar levels so low that you’re truly f###ked) twice on a bike, so I usually err on the side of caution and make sure I’ve enough nutrition inside me to make it to the end - and with sufficient in the recovery bank to arrive at next day’s start ready for action.

It would seem pretty dim to me to treat these two weeks of ‘excessive’ exercise as an opportunity to lose weight, even though a less than experienced near-porker might consider it to be the ideal opportunity.

My long term objectives are:

Dropping to sub 13 stones (180lbs) currently 195 by time of…

310 mile cycle in 24 hours (Newcastle to London) 21st/ 22nd August this summer.

QUESTION: Shall I just do as normal - get nice balance of calories in to sustain pre-camp bike-specific training then eat as I feel during two week period, or do you suggest I try and follow a clearly defined (calories IN, calories OUT) mantra to emerge that much more silth like at end of the training camp?

Do I get on with it and just get fit, or get fit AND take chance of losing some serious (8 lbs) of weight?

It strikes me that it is such a fine line balancing calories onboard against calories consumed, that I should just pretty much forget being over-careful and simply get fit and re-assess where I’m at once I return.

Long background then finally a question, but I hope readers might get some benefit from any answer/s.

1 Like

Hey @Stick,

I’d 100% do this… with the massive amount of activity you’re going to be doing during the days, I really, really doubt you’d be able to out eat that massive deficit.

Now as far as whether to start getting fit or not BEFORE you go, that really depends on how you want to perform & feel while you’re out there, as your body won’t be used to the workload… so personally, I’d prep for it before hand.

Then when out there, I’d just get on with it, enjoy the experience without worry, knowing that you’re probably going to lose a good bit of weight as a by product… it’s a win-win to me! :blush:

Cheers - that’s exactly how I’ve treated it before - enough training beforehand NOT to get your arse kicked, sufficient consumption to get through the next day and finally, see what the end result is when you get home!

1 Like

If ever there was a classic example of short question, long answer - long question, short answer that was it!

1 Like