Medically reviewed by Jake Tipane, CPT — composed by Corinne O'Keefe Osborn — to update on July 8, 2020

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You may have actually heard that muscle weighs much more than fat. However, follow to science, a lb of muscle and also a pound of fat sweet the same. The difference in between the 2 is density.

Two points that sweet the same have the right to be really different in size. A lb of marshmallows is walking to take it up much more space than a pound of steel.

The exact same is true through fat and muscle. A lb of fat is bulky, fluffy, and around the size of a little grapefruit. A pound of muscle is hard, dense, and about the dimension of a tangerine.


Not all pounds are developed equal. In fact, your complete body load isn’t a clean indicator of exactly how you look at or what health dangers you might face.

Two different human being who sweet the same amount can look an extremely different once one has a high percentage of fat and also the other has actually a high portion of muscle.

An extra 20 pounds the fat may provide you a softer, much less toned appearance. However an extra 20 pounds the muscle will certainly look firm and sculpted.

Muscle also serves a different duty than fat. Fat help insulate the body and trap in human body heat. Muscle increases your metabolism. This method the more muscle friend have, the an ext calories friend burn once you’re in ~ rest.


Researchers have discovered that people with a greater percentage of human body fat have actually a greater overall death rate, regardless of their weight or body mass table of contents (BMI).

Fat rises your chance for emerging conditions such as:

This way that even world with a low body weight yet a bad muscle-to-fat proportion are at higher risk for obesity-related conditions.

Keeping her body fat portion low is important for staying clear of obesity-related conditions.

That doesn’t median you have actually to build an extreme amount of muscle. When muscle is never unhealthy and also you can’t have actually too much of it, the fine to effort for much more reasonable goals.

The recommended body fat percentages differ a bit. The complying with recommendations, courtesy of Vanderbilt University, are based upon gender and age and also come indigenous the American university of Sports medication guidelines:


AgeFemale (% body fat)Male (% human body fat)
20-2916%–24%7%–17%
30-3917%–25%12%–21%
40-4919%–28%14%–23%
50-5922%–31%16%–24%
60+22%–33%17%–25%

These can further be classified by averages seen among athletes and people who room fit, average, or have obesity:


ClassificationFemale (% body fat)Male (% human body fat)
Athletes14%–20%6%–13%
Fit people21%–24%14%–17%
Average people25%–31%18%–24%
People through obesity32% and also higher25% and also higher

Testing her body fat ingredient is a little complicated.

Some gyms and also doctors’ offices carry out high-tech testing devices that usage bioelectric impedance (BIA) come detect fat cells. There room also new home scales the use technology to calculation body fat percentage.

These measure tools can sometimes it is in imprecise. Outside factors, such as how much water you’ve to be drinking, can influence the outcomes these devices provide.

You can find and also purchase native a wide choice of this scales online.


Muscle mass isn’t related to your BMI. Her weight and also height identify your BMI, no your body composition. Study shows, however, that BMI is moderately concerned body fat measurements.

Furthermore, research shows that BMI is as accurate a predictor that various an illness outcomes — such as diabetes and also hypertension — as more direct procedures of body composition.


If you want to build some skinny muscle or mass up a bit, try these tips:

At home, take benefit of your very own body weight v pushups, pullups, and also squats.Don’t be afraid to press yourself with increasingly heavier complimentary weights.Consider recreational activities that aid you develop muscle, favor climbing, yoga, or biking.Eat a high protein diet to fuel her muscle development. If she trying to mass up, rise your everyday calories intake with lean proteins choose chicken and also fish.

Weight lose is about an ext than just building muscle. Below are part tips to assist you lose weight:

Eat a well balanced diet complete of nutritious foods. shedding weight no just about cutting calories. The also around eating the ideal calories. Boost your entry of fruit, vegetables, and lean protein to help you feel full longer. Minimize or remove empty calories favor sugary coffee or soft drinks and also heavily handle snack foods like chips.Avoid undereating. To shed weight, you desire to reduced calories. Yet if you cut too numerous calories, your body can get in starvation mode. This can slow under your metabolism and sabotage her weight loss goals.Speaking that goals, collection realistic ones. uneven your doctor has actually recommended differently, target to shed no an ext than one to 2 pounds a week.Exercise every day. practice doesn’t have to always include an intense sweat session. Obtain off the bus a pair stops at an early stage to include in part extra measures or take the stairs. If you watch television at night, try lifting weights throughout commercials rather of fast-forwarding past them or grabbing a snack.Avoid the scale. sometimes staying turn off the range can aid keep girlfriend on track. That’s since you won’t see those days once extra water weight provides it look prefer you’ve acquired weight. Instead, focus on just how your garments fits. Are your pants much less snug about the waist and thighs?Work v a nutritionist. If you’ve to be eating healthy and also exercising but not losing weight, consider working v a nutritionist. Castle can help tweak her diet and portion sizes, which may help kick-start your weight loss.Switch that up. If you always eat the exact same things and do the exact same workout, think about switching the up. That can aid you protect against weight loss plateaus and also keep you from getting bored.Talk come a doctor. If she concerned about your weight, consider talking to your doctor. They can assist you set realistic goals and create a load loss plan.

If you have actually a trustworthy exercise routine and healthy eat habits, don’t concern so much around the scale.

If you’ve freshly upped your game and also are pertained to that friend aren’t shedding weight quick enough, try a various unit that measurement.

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If your pants feel loose around the waist and your T-shirts feeling tight about the arms, climate you’re probably shedding body fat and also building muscle.


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Medically reviewed by Jake Tipane, CPT — created by Corinne O'Keefe Osborn — to update on July 8, 2020