Question: Does Muscle Turn to Fat When You Stop Exercising?

Answer: Muscle turns to fat in the same way that lead turns into gold. It just doesn’t happen.

Fat and muscle are two very different and distinct tissues. There is no biological pathway for one to become the other.

But like many myths, this one does contain a kernel of truth. If someone is injured and can’t workout – or just makes the decision to eliminate exercise – then there is a good chance that they’ll gain body fat. This might create the illusion that muscle is turning into fat.

The reality is quite different. Fueling an active and muscular body requires an increase in caloric intake. Obviously, it takes calories to sustain a gym workout – but it also takes calories to maintain each and every pound of muscle that the body adds. When people stop exercising, the extra muscle begins to deteriorate in a process known as atrophy. Exercise is eliminated, the metabolism slows and atrophy occurs; the body’s need for calories has now been greatly reduced.

But when people stop exercising, they usually continue to eat what they ate while working out. Since the diet isn’t modified accordingly, the extra calories are stored as body fat.

So don’t let this pervasive myth prevent you from hitting the gym – or from taking off necessary gym time to help heal an injury. Muscle will never turn into fat.

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. dude..
    modifying my diet has got to be one of the toughest things to do when im healing an injury or recovering from an illness… i miss the endorphins i get from working out/playing sports.. warm, fattening, comforting food is an easy tempting substitute…

    ~ cheers…

    • I can totally relate to that. I find that on days that I don’t hit the gym, I’m craving high fat/sugar foods! Frustrating.

  2. This post totally answered my question! Thanks! I’ve been overweight my entire life (35). I worked out last year and lost 20 pounds. I stopped working out and gained 35. I thought my muscle turned into fat. SMH


  1. […] that muscle turns into fat. In reality, muscle fibers and fat cells are two very different things; one cannot become the other. The truth: Many people gain weight after they stop exercising because their body is burning fewer […]