Does muscle weigh more than fat?

A common health question is popping up again thanks to the president.
does muscle weigh more than fat
Photo: Getty Images

It’s an age-old question in the health industry, but the world, or at least the Twittersphere, resurfaced the issue after President Trump’s physical results were released earlier this week: Does muscle weigh more than fat?

 

Not satisfied with the publicized number, many people took to Twitter — and other social media platforms — to question, how much does Donald Trump weigh? At 6’3” (another questioned stat, but let’s go with it for the sake of our discussion) and 239 pounds, Trump’s sheer size made the numbers seem, well, implausible. Pictures of the president side-by-side with professional athletes with roughly the same height and weight on file surfaced and were used as evidence that the released Trump physical weight couldn’t possibly be right.

 

Detractors from the humorously-named Girther movement (a play off of the Birther movement, which Trump started questioning the legitimacy of Obama’s birth certificate) claimed that the difference was because muscle weighs more than fat.

 

Whoa, wait. Does muscle weigh more than fat, though?

Sorry, that’s a common misconception. A pound of muscle and a pound of fat both weigh, well, a pound — or the exact same amount. The difference here is the amount of space that the two take up. One pound of muscle is much smaller than one pound of fat.

 

So when you’re looking at pictures of the president, wondering why 239 pounds looks so different on him than it does on, say, Tom Brady, the difference comes down to how much space each takes up. Tom Brady’s 225 pounds appears smaller than Trump’s 239 pounds because it is, percentage-wise, more muscle than Trump’s.

 

 

 

It’s also why you see images on social media from fitstagrammers whose bodies look completely different while the number on the scale has not budged. (And why the number on the scale shouldn’t be your only measure of health or self-confidence, but that’s an issue for another time.) The most famous instance of this is Instagram influencer Kelsey Wells, whose before-and-after photo went viral after it showed her transformation from 145 pounds to 140 pounds — roughly the same weight — with drastically different figures. See the post below:

 

 

A post shared by KELSEY WELLS (@kelseywells) on

 

So, does muscle weigh more than fat? No, it’s just smaller, or more dense. Remind yourself of this next time you step on the scale, especially if you’re following a weight lifting regimen.

 
 
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