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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is it true that muscle can turn to fat if I stop training regularly?

    I have had a regular cardio and weight training regime for several years now and I have decided to take some time off to go travelling. I am concerned I won't be able to keep my regular program and I am worried my muscle will turn to fat. Is this true?
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  • Anonymous User

    HealthShare Member

    Hi there.
    This is a good question, and one that is quite common people have when they stop exercising.

    Your muscles won't turn into fat exactly, as they are 2 independant and different types of cells. However when you exercise less, you will more than likely lose muscle mass especially without weight training. This is called ‘detraining’, and will begin to occur within weeks of not training.

    As for gaining fat, this happens when your calorie intake exceeds your expenditure (ie you are eating more than you are using). If your calorie intake (what you eat and drink) matches your expenditure (what you use in exercise/general activity), then you should not gain fat.

    It is very difficult to maintain a regular routine while traveling, but it is possible. You can easliy do a short body weight strength circuit without any equipment at all to get some cardio and strength benefit several days a week to at least try to maintain or prevent too much loss in muscle and prevent a gain in fat.

    Stuart.

  • John Toomey

    Exercise Physiologist, Personal Trainer

    I'm a down to earth practising (and fully accredited) Exercise Physiologist based in Esperance, WA. I have been a practising EP since 2004. I've been … View Profile

    No. Stuart is correct. If you reduce your training load then the muscles you were training will reduce in size (as the training stimulus making them bigger is removed). If you simultaneously consume more energy than you are expending then your body will store the excess energy as fat. Completely different tissues.

    (Maybe in the middle ages an alchemist would have promised to turn lead into gold, but it's only today's fad diet companies that promise a similar result with turning fat into muscle!).

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