Fat vs. Muscle: What's the difference?

Fat vs. Muscle: What’s the difference?

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Fat and muscle, both are part of the body tissues. While they are entirely different, both are important. Learn more about each one.

The fat and muscle present in the human body are sections of the different issues that exist. Now, do you recognize what the main differences are?

Based on this, it is not that one is more beneficial than the other because eventually, both are important to have a healthy body. Therefore, these tissues perform specific functions in the body, so the balance of the two is what absolutely counts. Find out more about this subject below.

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The importance of body weight

Bodyweight is made up of the sum of water, muscle, fat, and, to a lesser extent, viscera, bones, and nerves, in fact, this is what circumscribes the balance. Nevertheless, this number does not allow to recognize what corresponds to each tissue except that it is a scale such as the one adopted by nutrition professionals, in which this is defined in detail.

But, based on this value received after weighing, the body mass index (BMI) can be calculated. When it is equivalent to or greater than 25 kilograms per square meter, it symbolizes overweight, which is represented by comprehensive scientific evidence, is a sign that is linked with the development of obesity and metabolic dysfunctions.

Keep in mind that it is the excess of adiposity that brings complexities to health, for this reason, the body mass index or BMI does not apply to people who are overtrained, for example, bodybuilders, in which this indicator is normally greater than 25 kilograms per meter square.

What is fat and what does it do?

Now, this does not indicate that body fat is dangerous as this is the main energy resources of the body. This macronutrient, which is made up of glycerol and fatty acids, provides 9 calories per gram. But, adipose tissue also performs structural and metabolic functions. Some of these are as follows:

  • It comprises the organs of the body (visceral tissue).
  • It acts as a thermal insulator.
  • Lipids are forerunners of bile acids, hormonal steroids, and vitamin D.
  • They provide fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K, and carotenoids).
  • They produce necessary fatty acids for the body.

Types of fats

To be clear, there are several food sources of fat. Based on this, they can be classified as “bad” and “good” fats for health. The foregoing is chemically saturated, normally of animal origin, and solid at room temperature. Examples of these are lard, pork fat, milk fat, chicken skin, and meat fats.

On the other hand, those that are healthy are usually of plant origin, with the elimination of fats from sea fish, and are ordinarily liquid at room temperature.

This kind of lipid can assist protect the body against coronary heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels. Among these, we can consider flax seeds, chia seeds, soybeans, olives, their oils, tuna, mackerel, among others.

What is the muscle and what is its purpose?

Muscle is a tissue that is made up of bundled muscle fibers. These have the strength to incur and relax. In the body there are 3 kinds:

  • The cardiac, which is located particularly in the heart.
  • The smooth muscle, which borders the wall of the bronchi, the digestive tract, the urinary bladder, blood vessels, and the uterus.
  • The striated or skeletal tissue is recognized as the “muscle itself”.

The latter fulfill different functions in the body:

  • It provides movement because the fibrils that form it contract and relax to achieve displacement.
  • It creates mechanical energy from the application of the glucose it stores.
  • Provides stability in the joints.
  • It works as protection.
  • Affirms posture.
  • They produce heat, due to the irrigation they have, due to the friction they produce, and because they use energy regularly.
  • They stimulate the action of the lymphatic and blood vessels because muscle compression helps the blood to pump (known as venous return).

Main differences between fat and muscle

It is obvious that they are different tissues and that for this purpose, their roles are not similar. In addition to this, other differential characters can also be considered.

muscle vs fat weight pictures
The balance between tissues is key to a proper state of health


The fatty tissue is more massive than muscle tissue, why two people who weigh the same may look different. This reveals that whoever has a higher amount of adipose tissue will obtain a greater surface area, while a person in whom muscle dominates will look toned and with a slimmer figure.

Metabolic effect

The muscular arrangement has the strength to consume energy, therefore, the higher amount of muscle mass you have, the higher your basal metabolism. This notion means that in a state of rest, that is, when no sign of movement is made, the least energy that cells utilize to function is greater.

Why is it necessary to have a balance between muscle and fat?

As discussed, both tissues have meaningful activities, therefore, there must be a balance between both. Being completely lean is not harmonious with life; in fact, it can act as a serious health risk, but having excess fat also carries notable risks.

As evidenced by the research “Obesity as a risk factor, its determinants and treatment”, the complications that may develop due to excess fat tissue are the following:

  • Cardiovascular diseases.
  • Arterial hypertension.
  • Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
  • Dysfunction of the blood vessels.
  • Atherogenic dyslipidemia (including low good cholesterol, high bad cholesterol, and excess triglycerides). [1]
  • Thrombosis risk.

Also, having a merest muscle mass is not optimal either. In this sense, improving the content of this tissue is advantageous to promote the actions of the muscle and to contribute to health.

There are clear differences between muscle and fat, but both tissues are essential.

To keep fat tissue within optimal values ​​and, in turn, to improve muscle mass, it is important to follow a healthy diet and do physical activity daily. These dependencies are necessary for both tissues to function accurately.

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