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Changing your Body Composition

Updated on November 3, 2015

Changing the Muscle vs Fat Ratio

What is your Body Composition?

Diet, diet, diet! That's all your hearing about these days. Pretty much everyone is jumping on some kind of fitness/health kick bandwagon. There are thousands of different types of fads diets, more are popping up each day....and there should be. Everyone's body is different and there isn't one particular diet that is going to work effectively for everyone. In the fitness world, there is no such thing as one size fits all. The one thing that a lot of people do not seem to understand is that a diet, no matter how good it may seem to be working, is only temporary. Kind of like putting on a band aid on a wound. Dieting is only going to change the number that's on the scale. If you do not add some form of exercise/weight training program into your schedule/regime, your body composition (muscle to fat ratio) will still remain the same and is capable/susceptible to gaining all the weight you just lost back as soon as your eating habits return to what they normally are. Oprah Winfrey would be one of the most famous examples of this. She has often dropped a large amount of weight being on a specific type of diet and then 5 or 6 months later, she gains all the weight back. Fat loss will always be associated with the loss of muscle at the same time, if there is no weight training/exercise that is part of the equation.

Think Fat loss, not Weight Loss

Muscle to Fat Ratio

Sadly, jumping onto the newest and coolest fad diet is simply just the American way and is one of the reasons that so many people are getting fatter/having issues with obesity by the minute. It's gotten so bad to the point that obesity is now actually considered a disease. Mesomorphs (softer with a roundish physique), or husky people with a slower metabolisms, who have always had problems losing weight normally may become/are easily susceptible to be obese because of the ups and downs of dieting over and over again. If you were on a 12 week diet program (3 months) versus a 3 month diet program with the addition of weight training and cardiovascular exercise, research has shown that you would lose approximately 50% less muscle than you would with just doing the dieting alone. These numbers are based on the mesomorph body type and of course all results are going to vary, being that every one is different. Weight training builds lean muscle tissue, adding muscle mass back to the body that is lost through dieting, which in turn, gives your metabolism a big kick. Improving your muscle to fat ratio, meaning the more lean muscle you have versus your adipose (body fat), means you can eat more, cut less calories and still burn fat. There are numerous ways to calculate your body composition (portion of your body that's fat versus muscle, fat free tissue and bones). Skin fold calipers are the most commonly used method. Applying the calipers over 7 sites of your body can determine your body fat percentage with an accuracy within approximately 3 to 5%. If you have access to a facility that has a bod pod, this under water method has an accuracy of within 1.5%. A DEXA (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) scan is more accurate than the bod pod, but is also a lot more expensive.

Cardio vs Weight Training

5 lbs of Fat vs 5 lbs of Muscle

Muscle Weighs more than Fat

Many people will start a popular diet and begin to get frustrated or discourage because a week or two into the diet, they do not see the scale significantly moving downwards. This is caused by the muscle effect. So now you ask, how can muscle possibly weigh more than fat? That doesn't make sense right?, a pound is a pound no matter how you look at it. Which is very true, however muscle is a lot more denser or heavier by volume than it's fat counterpart. If you have a 200 lb man with 8% body fat and another 200 lb man with 25% body fat, they are both 200 lbs and appear to be equal on the scale, however the man with the 25% body fat will appear to be much more larger than his counterpart because of him having a lot more fat tissue. This is why you will not see any immediate big changes on the weight scale as your body composition begins to change it's ratio of muscle to fat. You will notice a change in the way your cloths fit first, they will become loose fitting before the scale starts to move down. Once you start to change your ratio, becoming more physically fit and diminishing your body's fat stores, your body will begin to reveal toned, leaner muscles that you weren't even aware you had.

Muscle vs Fat

A Diet only Changes the Numbers on the Scale

Weight Loss

Some people will jump for joy when the find out they have lost 10 pounds. But it's really the quality of the weight you lost that counts. You could lose 10 pounds in just water alone which means absolutely nothing. If you were to do a colon cleanse you could also easily lose 10 lbs of waste that's in your colon and intestines. As stated previously, muscle is heavier (denser) than fat, so when you lose fat and gain more muscles, the change in appearance of the loss of those same 10 pounds is even more dramatic. Especially when you lose fat that sits on top of your muscle. It will give your body (muscle) a tighter, leaner look. Cutting a plethora of calories in a short period of time is not an answer to weight loss. Managing your calories and curtailing them to fit your body type is the answer. For example, If you are consuming 180 grams of carbs per day, and cut that in half to 90 grams, and you then substitute the cut carbs with 90 grams of protein, you will still be consuming the same amount of calories,(carbs and proteins both account for 4 kilo calories per gram) but yet you will still lose weight because your body is not processing the calories in the same manner. Protein is the only macronutrient group that is capable of improving your metabolism and still burn well after you have eaten it.

Body Fat Percentages

Additional Tips

When you start to change your body's composition, this makes your body susceptible to other things like stress and fatigue. So getting a good nights rest is imperative to weight loss. You should also be talking a daily multi vitamin, omega 3's and amino acids to ensure your body has everything it needs to function correctly and efficiently. Cardio should be done on a regular basis, even if it's not for fat loss. It will maintain testosterone production and growth hormone, both of which assist in body composition changes. Increasing your heart rate for at least 15-20 minutes a day will keep your metabolic rate hyper active/faster for a couple of hours after you have already finished your workout. Meaning more fat loss. Do you know your muscle to fat ratio?


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    • dwelburn profile image


      6 years ago from Birmingham, UK

      Some good practical information here. Yes, you should always add exercise to the equation when seeking to lose weight.

    • Alphadogg16 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin W 

      6 years ago from Texas

      @Kathryn Stratford - not many women think like you and not pay attention to the scale, its great that you understand that.

      @janetwrites - Thank you very much, I appreciate that

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image


      6 years ago from Windsor, Connecticut

      Very useful information. I don't like fad diets, I always customize my own diet, using information from health books, combined with lots of exercise.

      When I am losing weight, I like it when the scale goes down a little, in combination with gaining muscle tone. Losing muscle doesn't appeal to me at all! I pay more attention to how my clothes fit, and how my body looks than what the scale says.

      This is a great article. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • janetwrites profile image

      Janet Giessl 

      6 years ago from Georgia country

      Very useful and interesting facts you have here. As a professional you know what you are talking about and this is very evident in your hubs.

    • Alphadogg16 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin W 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for the read Man of strength & DDE

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      6 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Helpful tips here on Changing your Body Composition, interesting, useful and hopeful indeed.

    • Man of Strength profile image

      Man of Strength 

      6 years ago from Orlando, Fl

      Good hub. I learned this years ago. 1 pound of muscle is like a brick. 1 pound of fat is like hundreds of cotton balls. The brick is solid and hard. While it would take many cotton balls to equal a pound.


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