Can you turn fat into muscle?

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Convert sloppy blubber into steel-hard mass? No, of course you can’t — at least not when it comes to fat and muscle. Although referenced countless times to the land of bodybuilding fables, this remains a persistent myth.


Now it has to be said: apparently it is possible that your body ‘replaces’ fat by muscle. That is the case with body recomposition: fat mass disappears and muscle mass appears. Below is an example of what body recomposition can look like.

However, ‘recomping’ is only a realistic option in specific cases:

  • If you are a beginner. Your body is then so sensitive to muscle growth that you can grow muscle mass when there is a lack of energy. And a negative energy balance ensures that you lose fat at the same time. When you look in the mirror, you see your body getting into shape. It then seems as if the fat has given way to muscle mass.
  • If you start training again after a long break, for example after a lockdown. In part, the same principle applies as with a beginner, but now aided by the phenomenon of muscle memory. If you create an energy deficit for a longer period of time, the unwanted corona kilos (the fat you have grown during all those hours on Netflix) disappear and you build up the lost muscle mass relatively quickly through your previous training results.
  • If you are going to train and/or eat properly for the first time. If you have never worked with a solid exercise program and/or diet, you will experience newbie gains from the moment you do.
  • If you have a lot of fat mass.Then the existing mass can be used to facilitate muscle growth.
  • If you use steroids.


If you are a more advanced natural bodybuilder with a not too high fat percentage, then body recomposition can be quite difficult. It is probably more efficient to bulk (build muscle) and cut (lose weight). The end result can then be the same as in the photo above, only you have achieved it in phases (first the muscle mass, then the fat loss).


You cannot convert fat into muscle. However, you can ensure that you build muscle and lose fat through bodybuilding. Sometimes those processes can take place at the same time, especially if you are a beginner and/or have a high fat percentage: body recomposition. If you are more advanced, body recomposition is much more difficult to achieve, especially if you also have a low fat percentage. In that case, it is better to bulk and cut: first build muscle, then lose fat.

Photography: © Adobe Stock

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