Fat vs Muscle: What Men Over 40 Need To Know About Body Composition

Written by: Stuart Carter,

Dip. PT, Precision Nutrition 1
C.O.O., The Fit Father Project

Written by: Stuart Carter,

Dip. PT, Precision Nutrition 1
C.O.O., The Fit Father Project

fat vs muscle

Fat vs muscle is often discussed — and often misunderstood. What weighs more, one pound of fat or a pound of muscle?

The joke is on you if you're asking this question! It's kind of like asking which one is healthier.

Forget what you've heard about muscle weighing more than fat — it's all about density, baby! While a pound of muscle and a pound of fat technically weigh the same, they sure don't look the same or have the same impact on your health.

Picture this: a pound of marshmallows versus a pound of steel. Same weight, but totally different size, right? Well, it's the same deal with fat and muscle. A pound of fat is all fluffy and bulbous, like a small grapefruit, while a pound of muscle is compact and firm, more like a tangerine.

So here's the real scoop: not all pounds are created equal. Your total body weight doesn't tell the whole story about how you look or the health risks you might face. Take two people who weigh the exact same — one with a high percentage of fat and the other with a high percentage of muscle. They're going to look completely different.

Having an extra 20 pounds of fat might leave you looking soft and flabby, but an extra 20 pounds of muscle? That's going to give you a tight and sculpted physique.

But it's not just about appearances. Muscle and fat serve different purposes in your body. Fat keeps you warm and cozy, while muscle revs up your metabolism. This means that the more muscle you have, the more calories you'll burn, even when you're just chilling on the couch.

It is important to stress that in the case of fat vs muscle, there can be no clear winner; both are necessary for a healthy body. But the balance of the two is what really counts.

Keep reading for the TRUTH about fat vs muscle that all men over 40 should know.

If you're building muscle, but having trouble losing fat, then this video is for you!

Body Composition and Body Image

Take one look at any weight loss pictures — the before shows a man, probably in his 40s, with a large belly looking overweight.

The after shows a sleeker version of the same man; the belly is gone, and his weight is substantially less.

Despite the image of health, there is no guarantee that the slimmer man is any healthier.

This point is perfectly illustrated when you consider the image of two people who both weigh the same, but one has 10% body fat, and the other has 25%.

Muscle takes up less space and hugs our body much more comfortably than fat, but a pound of muscle and a pound of fat still weigh the same.

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Fat vs Muscle: The Real Difference

A pound of fat weighs one pound. A pound of muscle weighs one pound. But muscle is more dense than fat.

Denser materials take up less space. This means a specific amount of muscle will occupy less physical space than the same quantity of fat. It is this fact that makes the difference in before and after photos.

The less body fat you have, the more definition you will have around your muscles, creating a toned physique.

Despite what you may have heard, it is not possible to convert fat to muscle or muscle to fat.

If you do not exercise, your muscles will not grow, and because they are not being used, they will actually decrease in size. This will slow your metabolism and increase your fat stores.

tired of being fat

In contrast, exercise burns calories, and if you do not consume enough calories, the excess fat in your body is turned into energy to fuel your muscles, thus depleting your fat stores.

The result is fat has been burned and muscle built, but you should weigh the same. When muscle wins the battle of fat vs muscle, you look slimmer and fitter.

The only way that muscle can weigh more than fat is if you have a piece of muscle that takes up the same volume of space as a piece of fat. While this may be your eventual goal, it does not mean that muscle weighs more than fat. It just means you have a higher muscle content than you previously did and a lower fat content, which is healthy.

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Here’s A Free Weight Loss Meal Plan For Busy Men 40+

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Discover exactly what to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to lose belly fat & feel energized 24/7 without hard dieting...

Why The Scales Are Bad

Most people monitor their weight loss progress through weekly, or even more regular, use of the scales. However, this can be misleading.

You can lose weight by reducing your food intake but not completing any exercise. The reason for this will be due to a loss of muscle in the body, not an increase in fat.

To really monitor your progress with weight loss or muscle building, you need to monitor your diet. You also need to take accurate measurements of your waist, thighs, and even arm muscles.

If you're doing things correctly, you should lose 5-10 lbs of fat per month and gain 2-3 lbs of muscle per month.

Of course, it depends on your specific situation, but that would be a reasonable goal for someone working hard.

Scales show the weight of your body, and this can fluctuate based on a variety of different criteria:

  • Muscle will be between 30-55%
  • Fat between 10 and 30%
  • Water in your body 10 to 25%
  • Bones can be as much as 15%
  • Your organs will be approximately 15%

The exact distribution will depend upon your fitness level. The fitter you are, the higher your percentage of muscle and the lower your fat level is, but a body fat percentage calculation is really the safest way of knowing if you are really winning the fat vs muscle battle.

Embracing Muscle

It doesn’t matter if you are looking to lose weight or build muscle; you should be aware that muscle is extremely beneficial to your body and your overall health.

Muscle boosts your metabolism because it is denser than fat it requires more calories even when resting. The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn. Providing you stick to a sensible diet, it will be difficult for you to gain fat.

Muscle also works to strengthen the bones it surrounds and supports, making them denser and reducing your risk of injury. This is an obvious benefit of muscle.

If you complete compound exercises, you will improve the strength of several muscles at the same time. The added benefit of this is an improvement in your core strength and balance.

Winning the war of fat vs muscle means you will have a better body definition.

This will inspire confidence in yourself in a wide variety of everyday situations. You may surprise yourself with what you can achieve.

The stronger your muscles and the more calories they require, the harder your body will need to work to maintain its resting level. This will result in improvements to your circulation, digestive system, and the health of all your organs, reducing the risk of illness.

best exercise for men 40+

What Are The 5 Best Muscle Building Exercises For Men 40+?

best exercise for men 40+
The secret to building age-defying muscle in your in 40s, 50s, & 60s is to modify the best muscle building exercises (bench, squats, rows) to make them safe on your joints…

Additional Considerations

Higher levels of fat have been shown to increase the likelihood of contracting type 2 diabetes, coronary issues, respiratory disorders, and even some types of cancer.

Regardless of the fact that you look better when your body fat is lower, research shows you are likely to live longer and be healthier, which has to be the best advantage of allowing muscle to win the battle of fat vs muscle!

The right diet and even basic physical exercise can reduce your body fat.

Add in a good workout routine, such as this 24-minute workout, and you won’t recognize yourself within just one month.

This is just the tip of the iceberg!

The Fit Father Project is here to support you on every step of your journey, beating fat and improving muscle to ensure that you can give your family the time and energy that you all deserve.

Stuart Carter, Dip. PT, Precision Nutrition 1
C.O.O., The Fit Father Project

Stuart gained his Diploma in Personal Training & Sports Medicine through Premier Global, back in 2001. In 2018, he completed his Level 1 Precision Nutrition qualification.

Throughout his career in Fitness, Stuart has trained hundreds of clients, worked in almost every position in the industry, and ran his own successful training studio.

After a hiatus away from the Fitness industry, working in Corporate Management and Finance, Stuart returned to what he loves… Fitness! This return led to a chance meeting with Dr. Balduzzi, and a place in the Fit Father Project team.

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*Please know that weight loss results and health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on fat vs muscle.


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Written by: Stuart Carter,

Dip. PT, Precision Nutrition 1
C.O.O., The Fit Father Project


Join the #1 Health & Fitness Program
for Busy Men 40+

Trusted by over 50,972 Busy Dads 40+

Lose weight. Keep it off.

See & feel results before you buy.

Limited Time Offer

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