Research & Review

Muscle vs. Fat: Is the Difference What We Think?

Okay, we’ve all heard it “Muscle weighs more than fat.” but what does that actually mean? That statement is actually not very descriptive, but it should be. “Muscle has a higher density than fat.” That’s what’s going on here.

The density of muscle is 1.0599 grams in every cubic centimeter.

The density of fat is 0.9094 grams in every cubic centimeter.

So let’s look at the famous fat vs muscle picture:

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This picture explains what I’m talking about really well. You have a chunk of muscle, and a chunk of fat. They weigh the same, but the muscle is smaller. Let’s break this down a little further with the density values above:

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So there we go, mathematically we can see that the same weight of muscle takes up less volume than the fat, but how much less?

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Now if we find the cube root we’ll know the actual dimension of how much less volume 5 pounds of muscle is.

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So picture a cube where all sides are 7 cm. That’s how much less volume is in 5 pounds of muscle compared to 5 pounds of fat!

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This cube is a scale representation of the difference. I’ve gone ahead and calculated the dimensions for the whole 5 pounds of fat and muscle as well. Below are their cubes in one third scale (times each cube by 3 for the real size – yellow is fat and red is muscle).
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As you can see there is a small difference, but it’s no where near the difference in the infamous Fat vs Muscle picture above. Now you know the facts, muscle has a higher density than fat which means the same weight takes up less volume. However, that difference is no where near what we’ve been lead to believe!

 

x Laura