There seems to be some controversy over whether or not muscle weighs more than fat. However, muscle does not weigh more than fat. A kilo is a kilo, no matter what it is made up of.
But can you turn fat into muscle? And what is the best exercise for burning fat and putting on muscle?
We found the perfect guinea pigs for this experiment in identical twins Karen and Kathy. Identical twins have the exact same genetic make-up, so they are ideal to road test our eight-week fat-burning exercise programs.
Karen pushed herself in pump classes. Body pump is a weight-training class done to upbeat music. It's great for people who want to lift weights but can't afford a personal trainer.
And Kathy mixed it up with intense cardio. She ran on the treadmill until she was out of breath, then continued walking repeating this sequence for a total of 30 minutes. Cardiovascular training is beneficial for heart and lung fitness.
The twins both trained three times a week for eight weeks and ate the same diet. We tested their progress with a body-composition test in week one and week eight to determine how much fat they had lost, and how much muscle they’d put on.
We were able to do this by scanning the twins' bodies with a dual energy X-ray machine, which measures the amount of fat, muscle and bone in a person's body.
At week one, Karen's total body fat percentage was 34.5 percent and Kathy's was 36 percent. The twins also aimed to put on muscle while losing fat because building muscle helps to increase your metabolism and therefore the more quickly you burn fat. Unfortunately, you can't simply turn fat into muscle.
So the goal wasn't weight loss, it was a change in body composition.
At the end of the eight weeks, Karen's total body fat percentage was 32.1 percent (a drop of 2.4 percent or 1.5kg), and Kathy's was 31.6 percent (a drop of 4.4 percent or 3.4kg).
So why was cardio more efficient in burning fat?
It comes down to the intensity of the activity you're doing so the higher your heart rate while exericising, the more kilojoules you're likely to burn.
Potentially, Kathy was working much harder on the treadmill than Karen was during her pump classes.
High-intensity work-outs continue to burn fat even after you've finish exercising. This is due to the fact your metabolism is still raised after training while your body uses energy to try to cool itself down and recover.
So if you want to burn fat, intense cardio is the way to go, and the great thing is it won't cost you a cent. Head down to your local park, run as hard as you can for 20 or 30 seconds, then walk for a minute or two to recover. Do it for half an hour, three times a week and, just like Kathy you'll be shedding fat in no time.
Muscle doesn't weigh more than fat. You can't say a certain weight weighs more than another substance of the same weight. A gram of muscle weighs the same as a gram of fat. The difference is that muscle is much denser than body fat. So a gram of fat will take up much less room in your body.
Also, muscle is more vascular (has a better blood supply) than body fat, and will cause you to burn more kilojoules at rest than body fat.
It's the same thing with fat and muscle. Muscle is 18 percent more dense than fat so fat takes up more space than muscle.
A woman weighing 60kg with 25 percent fat will look much smaller and be much healthier than a woman at 60kg with 35 percent fat. They weigh the same, yet the body composition is different. Because muscle is denser than fat the person with less fat and more muscle will look smaller.
You can't turn fat into muscle or muscle into fat; you lose fat and put on muscle.
For more information head to CLEAN HEALTH
Clean Health owners, Shannon Cleary and Daine McDonald, believe in a down to earth, no nonsense, and a passionate approach to exercise and health education. They are ready to share their 20+ years of experience, training and life skills with you to help you on your path to a healthier and more satisfying life.