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4 Facts about Fat and Muscle


Posted by Cags R under General on 8 September 2012 at 11:00 PM

1. Fat has a volume 3 times greater than muscle: this is why you can be in the best shape of your life and end up being heavier than when you were a couch potato!  

2. The difference in the resting metabolic rate of the 2 tissues is 3-6 calories per day: 1 pound of muscle will burn 3-6 calories more per day than 1 pound of fat. Disappointing as this stat is (there are many places which will tell you it's 50 calories per day) you must bear in mind that this is when resting/inactive.

As soon as your muscles are active they make calorific demands on your body which mean you will use more energy (there's a reason Michael Phelps can eat that breakfast!)

3. Fat is more buoyant than water: this is how hydrostatic body fat testing works - by comparing your 'land-weight' with your 'water-weight' you can calculate the percentage which is fat. Think bathtub, Archimedes and a calculator and you're pretty much there! 

It's a much more accurate measure than scales such as BMI which are based on height vs. weight without the density of fat and muscle being taken into account - read more in this Q&A.

 4. 1 pound of muscle working at its full capacity will burn 4.7 calories per hour: this may not sound as much as you would hope but if you imagine a 150lb person, roughly 40% of their weight being taken up by muscle, in one hour they have the potential to burn 282 calories and that's solely in their muscular output. There are still 'essential' expenditures which are constantly running in the background (a bit like your Tribesports on your desktop!) which are burning calories at the same time as your muscles are working.

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    That's why BMI is not a good indicator of a healthy weight. How accessible is hydrostatic body fat testing to the average person? Where would you find one?

    Luna L encouraged this.


    I learned a lot; thanks for posting this. :)


    very interesting and informative, thanks


    @janeh - the hydrostatic testing is very accurate but costs around $300 Aussie dollars I believe. There is testing available in most good sports institutes but it's still not a very common thing to be able to do. In terms of cheap alternatives, combining the BMI, waist to hip measures, skin calipres and mirror test will often give you a rough guide. However measure body fat once you have a muscular physique does prove slightly inaccurate unless you go to the accurate but expensive high end testing

    Nikki R encouraged this.


    Thank you for this! It was interesting to read for sure, as everyone else is saying.

    Stefan R encouraged this.


    One of our local hospitals does hydrostatic testing. They offer the testing alone for $38 USD and you can get a package deal with a consult with a nutritionist for under a $100 USD (I seem to remember $98, well maybe $89). It's in their alternative medicine wing and I would guess that this is not typical and that they don't profit off this service. The wing is heavily sponsored by private individuals and corporations. Maybe worth checking though at your local hospital if you live in a metropolitan area or in an area with a major health care center.


    I LOVE learning this kind of stuff! I just love having awareness of all my body can do!

    Gaina C encouraged this.

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