John Robert Cardillo

Muscle vs Fat Gain

When you start working out at a gym, you’ll notice that you may actually gain weight first, and then gradually start shedding pounds. Odds are, you are adding some much-needed lean muscle to your frame or you may be retaining some water due to inflammation. Don’t let it scare you if the scale shows a higher weight; it’s temporary. The bigger question is: what happens when we gain weight from working out?

Increased Muscle Size

When a person starts working out at a gym, performing a hi-intensity (HIT3) exercise program, the large muscles of the body (thighs, back, chest, deltoids) will respond by growing in size. HIT3 workouts-the premier method to stimulate hypertrophy. This will result in some weight gain during the first several months of training. Although the goal was to start exercising for the purpose of losing body fat, what initially may happen is an increase in bodyweight, as a result of more muscle being gained than fat being lost.

Fat Cells and How They Work

Typically when we think about gaining weight, we often link the idea with how much fat we have added to our body. The typical body-mass index (BMI) that most doctors use as a health calculation based on height and weight is flawed-not the premier method to determine fitness and health.It is not accurate for measuring all types of people, especially fit and an athletic individuals. It doesn’t take body fat and lean muscle mass into consideration. For example, having a high BMI doesn’t mean that you’re obese – you may just have a lot of muscle on your body. On the contrary a low BMI doesn’t mean that you’re healthier than someone with a high BMI.

In regards to fat cells, we all need fat on our body. That is a key component of cell membranes that are used to store energy and produce different types of hormones used to send the body signals.

Molecular biologist Kristy Spalding discovered that as adults, we keep the same number of fat cells throughout our lives regardless of whether we gain or lose weight. It’s only during our teenage years, especially when we hit puberty, that there’s an increase in the number fat cells in our bodies. It hits a plateau in our mid 20s. Genetics passed on by our parents determine how many fat cells we will ultimately have. That is why some people have more fat cells than others. It all has to do with heredity.

Weight Loss vs Fat Loss

Our weight is related to the number and size of fat cells we have in our bodies. When we lose weight, the fat cells shrink – but they never disappear. On the other hand, when we gain weight, the fat cells increase in size by your fat cells storing excess calories that were consumed. For example, if there are two women with “apple-shaped” bodies (where they store most fat in their midsection) they may have different amount of fat cells within your box with in their bodies; one may store more lipids where the other one may not. Meanwhile the other woman may have larger bowl structure and more muscle.

The key is there are no new fat cells being added with weight gain. Weight loss is associated with fat cells shrinking – not getting rid of them.

Muscle vs. Fat

Most of you have probably heard of the term skinny fat. Some females have a misconception that the “thin look” of a female runway model is the stylish way to be. Although they may appear to be a healthy weight, their body will carry little muscle and will most likely be quite weak. They may look beautiful on the runway, however chances are they are unhealthy as well. If their fat cells were to shrink to almost a “no fat” state, they would be very weak and possibly look somewhat like a shriveled up prune as their body has very little muscular mass.

Food for Thought and Fat loss

For most people, the premier way to maintain a healthy weight is to eat more vegetables and less red meat or fatty foods. My SHREDDED NUTRITION advocates eating more foods like grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds – and less foods like beef and pork. If your main goal is to lose weight I recommend that you limit your intake of animal fat. To burn off fat you have to shrink your fat cells and not inflate them by eating excess calories in the form of empty carbohydrates or over indulging in fat foods.


When you start working at a gym and add strength training to your routine, you’ll gain muscle size while shrinking your fat cells, which will cause you to lose fat. At the beginning do not pay too much attention to the scale as you may actually gain some weight due to packing on some much-needed muscle or you may be retaining some temporary water. Avoid the skinny fat look and go build that body you always dreamed of having. It’s attainable. And you deserve it!

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John Robert Cardillo

bodybuilding champion

A Canadian champion who went on to win many bodybuilding competitions including the Junior Ontario and Junior Canadian Championships.

John Robert Cardillo

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