Can muscle turn into fat (or vice versa)? Technically…no. But it can sometimes look like it. This illusion is precisely why most women spend less than 5% of their weight loss efforts trying to build muscle, and over 95% (spinning their wheels!) trying to tone it. Today, we’re setting the record straight about why this simply isn’t possible and how having outdated beliefs about muscle and fat being interchangeable ends up causing more problems for 40+ women than it provides solutions… (full video below)
Understanding Body Composition
Before we dive into the myth, let’s take a moment to understand the characteristics of muscle and fat. Muscle tissue is composed of protein filaments and is responsible for movement, strength, and endurance. On the other hand, fat tissue serves as an energy storage depot, storing excess calories in the form of triglycerides.
The Distinct Nature of Each
Each cell is distinct in their composition and function. Muscle cells contract to produce force, allowing movement, while fat cells store energy as triglycerides. These two tissues have different structures, purposes, and metabolic activities, making it impossible for muscle to transform into fat or vice versa.
Weight Loss and Changes in Body Composition
During weight loss, it’s common to experience changes in muscle mass and fat stores. However, it’s crucial to understand that these processes are separate and not interconvertible. A calorie deficit can lead to overall weight loss, but if not managed properly, it can result in loss of muscle and potential gain in bodyfat. Proper nutrition, exercise, and a balanced approach to weight loss are key to preserving lean body mass while reducing fat.
Factors Influencing Muscle Loss and Bodyfat Gain
Several factors can contribute to muscle loss and fat gain. Inadequate protein intake, lack of strength training exercises, and prolonged calorie deficits can lead to muscle breakdown. On the other hand, excess calorie intake, reduced physical activity, and an imbalanced diet can contribute to fat gain. By addressing these factors, we can maintain muscle mass and promote a healthier body composition.
Preserving Muscle and Reducing Bodyfat
To preserve lean body mass and reduce bodyfat effectively, it’s important to adopt specific strategies. Engaging in regular strength training exercises helps to maintain and build muscle mass. Consuming an adequate amount of protein is crucial for muscle growth and repair. It’s also essential to create a moderate calorie deficit that supports fat loss while minimizing muscle loss. Finding a sustainable approach to nutrition and exercise is key to achieving long-term success.
Conclusion: Muscle cannot turn into fat, and fat cannot turn into muscle. They are distinct tissues with different structures and functions. By debunking this myth, we aim to empower individuals to make informed decisions about their fat loss journey. Remember, preserving muscle mass, reducing bodyfat, and achieving a balanced body composition require a combination of proper nutrition, regular exercise, and a sustainable approach.
When it comes to weight loss, it’s important to remember that losing weight doesn’t always mean losing fat. In fact, if you’re not careful, you may end up losing muscle instead. Losing muscle mass can slow down your metabolism and make it more difficult to maintain your weight loss over time. In this post, we’ll explore five signs that you may be losing muscle instead of fat, and provide tips to help you preserve muscle mass and achieve your fitness goals.
#1 You’re Losing Weight Too Quickly
Losing weight too quickly can be a sign that you’re losing muscle mass. When you lose weight too quickly, your body may start breaking down muscle tissue for energy, which can slow down your metabolism and make it more difficult to maintain your weight loss over time. Aim to lose no more than one to two pounds per week to ensure that you’re losing fat, not muscle.
Key Takeaway: While losing weight quickly may seem like a good thing, it could be a sign that you’re losing muscle instead of fat. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to weight loss!
#2 You’re Not Engaging in Strength Training
If you’re not engaging in strength training exercises, you may be losing muscle mass. Strength training exercises help to build and preserve muscle mass, so it’s important to incorporate them into your workout routine. Aim to strength train at least two to three times per week to help preserve muscle mass and maintain strength.
Key Takeaway: If you’re not strength training, you may be missing out on an important component of weight loss. Incorporating strength training exercises into your routine can help preserve muscle mass and maintain strength.
#3 Your Diet is Too Restrictive
If you’re following a very restrictive diet, you may be losing muscle mass. Restrictive diets can be low in calories and protein, which are both important for preserving muscle mass. It’s important to consume enough protein and calories to support muscle growth and repair.
Key Takeaway: While following a restrictive diet may seem like a good way to lose weight quickly, it could be causing you to lose muscle mass instead of fat. Don’t forget to consume enough protein and calories to support muscle growth and repair.
#4 You’re Feeling Weaker
If you’re feeling weaker than usual, it may be a sign that you’re losing muscle mass. Muscle mass is directly tied to strength, so if you’re losing muscle mass, you may also be losing strength. This is usually amplified with #2 and #3 are out of whack. Yet another reason why it’s so important to keep calories as high as possible and continue to strength train even when dieting.
Key Takeaway: Feeling weaker than usual could be a sign that you’re losing muscle mass. Don’t let your strength suffer – make sure you’re eating enough calories to sustain the level of activity that you are engaging in while incorporating a periodized strength training routine to help preserve muscle mass and maintain strength.
#5 Your Body Composition Isn’t Changing
Finally, if your body composition isn’t changing, it could be a sign that you’re losing muscle mass. While you may be losing weight overall, you may not be losing fat in the right places. Losing muscle mass can cause your body to lose shape and become less toned.
Key Takeaway: If you’re not seeing changes in your body composition, it could be a sign that you’re losing muscle mass. Don’t let your hard work go to waste – make sure you’re preserving muscle mass and losing fat in the right places.
If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to make sure you’re losing fat, not muscle. By paying attention to these five signs and incorporating strength training exercises into your routine, you can help preserve muscle mass and achieve your weight loss goals in a healthy and sustainable way.
Losing weight without tracking food is a recipe for failure.
Now…don’t get me wrong – losing weight without tracking is absolutely possible!
But the sad truth is that so many of us, myself included, spend most of our much more forgiving years (teens, 20s, 30s, etc) caught up in the fantasy of what’s possible short term – rather than the long term effect of that possibility.
We focus more on what we wish our bodies could look like, and how fast we can get there – rather than the honest reality of how we can achieve it, what it takes to sustain it, and the amount of hard work it takes to rewire the Diet Addict mindset.
[The Diet Addict tends to avoid, ignore, or dismiss essential pieces to the puzzle like eating enough, building muscle, or …tracking food intake – simply because they “have been able to lose weight before” without doing it.]
But here’s something you should know: maintaining weight loss is MORE important than losing it, and more indicative of “success” in the eyes of science. And when it comes down to it, refusing to track food intake is one of the number one reasons someone fails when trying maintain a healthy lifestyle and lasting weight loss!
So…does this mean that you need to be chained to a food tracking app for the rest of your life? 🥺
The Problem with Tracking Food
First things first… the elephant in the room.
There are SO many reasons why some women over 40 may not want to track food for weight loss. Here are a handful that have come up repeatedly over the years with my 1:1 clients, and the clients of the PTs I coach:
(Take note: they’re all completely VALID)
- They find it time-consuming and tedious to track everything they eat and drink.
- They may feel overwhelmed by the process of tracking food and find it difficult to incorporate into their daily routine.
- They may feel embarrassed or ashamed of their current eating habits and don’t want to face the reality of what they are consuming.
- They may believe that tracking food is restrictive and takes away the pleasure of eating.
- They may not have access to the technology or tools needed to track their food.
- They may believe that they already have a good understanding of what they should be eating and don’t feel that tracking their food will provide additional benefit.
- They may feel that tracking food is too scientific and prefer to rely on their intuition or common sense when it comes to eating.
- They may not have the discipline to consistently track their food and worry that they will fail if they start.
- They may feel that they have too many other responsibilities and priorities in their lives and don’t want to add another task to their to-do list.
- They may have had negative experiences with tracking food in the past, such as feeling guilty or obsessing over calorie counts.
So with all of these completely valid reasons NOT to log, why even bother placing any emphasis on it?
Well, put frankly… it (always) comes down to YOUR goals. What exactly are you trying to accomplish?
Navigating Successful Fat Loss after 40
Dieting (for many 20-30 somethings) is a lot like hopping in your car to take a road trip with no directions – and no responsibilities. You just let the road take you wherever it goes, because you have nowhere to be, and no one to answer to. As you drive around aimlessly, you may find some extremely cool destinations without even trying. You may also come across some not-so-cool, or even dangerous destinations – but even those may provide a secret thrill…or at very least, a cool story to tell. ☠️
Aimlessness and intuition is fine if you have no goal or specific place you’re trying to get to. There is absolutely a time and place for being carefree, letting your hair down, and exploring your surroundings.
But when you want to get somewhere specific, you need specific instructions and you need accountability for whether you’re following them. Knowing where you are on the map helps prevent you from blaming the route when you haven’t actually started the car. Even if the direction is “wrong” or you decide to go somewhere else – if you have a map, you can backtrack to where you took the wrong turn, instead of continuing on until you’re 100s of miles off-track.
It’s true that some people don’t require tracking after a certain point. Going to places that you’ve gone to HUNDREDS of times before, typically don’t require GPS (unless someone else was driving and you weren’t paying attention!)
But when you’re doing it for the first time – you do (intuitive doesn’t work unless you’ve done the “structure” first to know when to keep going/when to stop, what works and why not).
This can be both a pro and con when it comes to tracking your food and knowing how to eat for fat loss. If you’ve been “winging it,” blind-logging, or following for fad diets for years, that’s what you’ll do intuitively.
Going to the wrong destination. Over. and. over. and. over.
On the other hand… If you’ve been using logging as a tool to hold yourself accountable, build essential habits, and carefully studying what works and why…you’ll be more equipped to intuitively keep the weight off – without logging.
How refusing to track impedes progress
When people refuse to track food for weight loss, they may face several problems that can impede their progress and make it difficult to achieve their goals.
Some potential problems include:
- Lack of awareness: Without tracking food, it can be difficult to accurately assess how much and what type of food you are consuming, which can make it harder to identify areas for improvement.
- Inability to identify trigger foods or patterns: Without tracking food, it can be difficult to identify specific foods or situations that trigger overeating or unhealthy food choices.
- Lack of accountability: Without tracking food, it can be hard to hold yourself accountable for your eating habits, which can make it easier to slip back into old habits or make poor food choices.
- Plateauing: Without tracking food, it can be difficult to assess whether you are making progress towards your weight loss goals, which can lead to frustration and plateaus in weight loss.
- Inability to make adjustments: Without tracking food, it can be challenging to make adjustments to your eating habits or dietary intake, which can prevent you from achieving optimal results.
- Difficulty maintaining consistency: Without tracking food, it can be difficult to maintain consistency in your eating habits, which can make it harder to achieve long-term weight loss success.
Overall, refusing to track food for weight loss can make it more challenging to achieve weight loss goals and maintain them long term.
Only YOU Can Decide
As unnatural and tedious as it may feel, tracking food intake at *some point* in the journey is the key to LONG TERM successful weight loss – it gives you the data needed to set realistic goals, identify trigger foods or patterns, hold yourself accountable for your actions and make necessary adjustments along the way.
With the knowledge you gain during periods of tracking, you’ll finally be able to break through plateaus, achieve lasting success that you can ultimately maintain INTUITIVELY!
So if you’ve been avoiding FULL accountability around logging your food it’s time to decide…
Do you want to keep working really hard (intuitively) and possibly have nothing to show for it? Or would you rather focus on embracing the temporary discomfort/annoyance of tracking your eats, while learning from the data that it’s providing – so you not only lose fat, but also (intuitively and permanently!) keep it off?
If so, here a couple of suggested tools to help you put this into action:
Level 1 – Download the Quick Start Guide (Free), get a free MFP/Lose it account (or log in if you already have one), or pen/paper, etc… and start tracking again!*
Level 2 – Already tracking? Grab the EM2WL Starter Kit Bundle – and develop a more strategic game plan for incorporating the eating phases that most women over 40 have been avoiding for decades.
Level 3 – Join the Workout Vault – track your workouts (not just your food!), match the eating phases to the workouts, and take your results to the next level.
*Our site calculator gives starting points for where your calories should be for maintenance, fat loss, or muscle gain – but I always suggest logging AS IS first to see where you already are in comparison to those numbers.
If you’re a woman over 40, you may be wondering if bodyweight workouts can really help you build muscle and lose fat. After all, getting to the gym isn’t always easy with your busy schedule. But do bodyweight exercises really work? Is it possible to lose weight or build muscle using only your own body weight? Here, we dig into the truth about bodyweight workouts.
The Role of Calories
Calorie intake plays a huge role in both losing weight and gaining muscle. To lose fat, you need to create a calorie deficit by eating fewer calories than what your body needs to maintain its current weight. To gain muscle, on the other hand, you need to consume more calories than your body needs so it can use those extra calories to build muscle mass. Once your calorie intake is in check, then you can focus on your workouts.
Building a Strategy
When it comes to bodyweight workouts for women over 40, having a strategy is key if you want the exercises to “work” for you. Just like any workout plan that uses dumbbells or barbells, bodyweight plans should also be periodized—meaning they should have specific goals and progressions that help you reach those goals. For example, if one of your goals is gaining strength, then make sure that each session is focused on building strength rather than endurance or power (which are other types of periodization). This will ensure that the exercises are actually helping you reach your goals instead of simply wasting time with random exercises.
Rep Ranges Matter Too!
You also need to make sure that the rep ranges used in each session match the type of goal being worked on—for example, if your goal is hypertrophy (gaining muscle size), then don’t use endurance rep ranges (12+ reps). Instead, stick with 8-12 reps for hypertrophy-focused training sessions and 3-5 reps for strength-focused sessions.
Exercises can (and should!) also be manipulated depending on where you are in your periodization—you can either make them easier (more reps) or harder (less reps) by changing variables such as tempo or range of motion in order to produce muscle fatigue appropriate to your intended rep range better.
For example, elevating your feet on an incline pushup makes the exercise more difficult than doing traditional pushups on the ground would be; conversely, lowering yourself onto a low box makes pushups easier because it takes some of the tension off of your muscles during the movement.
Knowing how and when to manipulate exercises can keep your workouts challenging and effective — no matter what equipment (or lack thereof) is used!
In conclusion, yes – bodyweight workouts can be effective at helping women over 40 build muscle and lose fat! While managing calorie intake is important no matter what kind of exercise program you choose, having a well-thought-out strategy and understanding how rep ranges work will help ensure that the exercises chosen match up with whatever goal(s) being worked on — whether it’s gaining strength, building muscle, or increasing endurance!
With these tips in mind – get out there and start crushing those bodyweight workouts!
When it comes to how you feel and look, it’s important not to ignore what’s going on inside in attempts to “fix” the outside. A metabolism reset is a process of nourishing and repairing your body from within in order to reap the exterior benefits. But how can you measure your progress as you go through the reset phase?
While you may not always see outward changes right away, there are certain cues that indicate the progress of your metabolism reset. Let’s take a look at five ways you can measure your metabolism reset progress.
If you are going through a metabolism reset, chances are that you have already lost muscle due to dieting or other lifestyle factors. During the reset, you should expect to see some of that muscle regained, however, this may not be visible without a DEXA (or similar) scan. Depending on the length of your reset and your starting body fat percentage, your body composition may undergo some visible changes as well.
Weight gain (if any) has stopped, and you’re eating at your “goal” calorie level. If you have been steadily gaining weight prior to or during the reset, then tracking whether or not this has stopped can be an effective way to measure progress. Even though the scale isn’t the only indicator of progress, it can still provide useful information about changes in your body composition over time and whether or not the reset is working for you.
Improvement in Hair/Skin/Nails
During a metabolism reset, it is common for hair skin nail (HSN) health to improve drastically as micro- and macronutrients are made available for repair and growth processes within the body. This can also occur when hormone levels become balanced and as gut health improves from consuming nutrient-dense foods that support digestive system functioning properly and efficiently.
Appetite/Energy Has Regulated
If you were experiencing ravenous hunger and cravings before starting the program and/or feelings of fatigue throughout the day then tracking how these symptoms have changed since beginning can be another great way to measure progress! Generally speaking if cravings have decreased/stabilized and energy levels have increased then this could again indicate improved hormonal balance from proper nourishment!
Lastly, strength gains are another great way to measure metabolisms reset progress! Our muscles respond best when we show them love through movement, exercise, and…FOOD — so if you’ve been consistently working out throughout this phase (and eating enough food!) strength gains should start going through the roof! This could look like an increase in weight lifted or reps completed but either way, it’s a sure sign that things are moving in the right direction. Tracking changes in strength over time will help give insight into how well muscles are recovering after workouts due to adequate nutrient uptake which again points towards efficient metabolic functioning!
Adjust your Focus
Measuring progress during a metabolic “reboot” isn’t about focusing solely on external factors – like weight loss – but rather looking internally at how our bodies are responding to proper nourishment after years of being deprived from essential nutrients needed for optimal functioning. By understanding these five key indicators we can assess progress along our journeys more accurately while avoiding disappointment over false expectations the diet industry has been shoving down our throats for decades!
Ultimately, if we focus on what’s happening inside then eventually those outside changes will follow – even if they do take time before becoming visible! So don’t forget – RESET IS NOT A FAT LOSS PHASE – prioritize your healing by addressing “what lies beneath” first & celebrate ANY and ALL small victories (in the areas listed above) along this amazing journey!
Good luck! : )
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