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Does muscle turn into fat as I age?

Dr. Mike Clark, DPT
Fitness
No, muscle and fat are two very different tissues in your body and they cannot morph into one another. Aging comes with many physiological changes; however you can reduce deleterious muscle loss and fat gain by staying active throughout your entire life span. As you age, muscle begins to break down (a condition called sarcopenia) and you may tend to gain more fat since you are not as active, and likely, have not changed your eating habits to match your reduced activity levels. Without knowing it, you end up eating more than you move and your lean muscle begins depleting as your fat stores expand. In essence, fat begins to replace muscle as you age. However, the good news about this is that you can slow down muscle loss and increase health by staying active for at least 30 minutes a day, 5-7 days a week. Whether going for a brisk walk, participating in your favorite sport, physical hobby or becoming involved in weight training, you can maintain the muscle you have longer and stay healthier by making movement a part of your lifestyle.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Not exactly, but yes you replace muscle with fat as you age if you do nothing about it. The more active you are with resistance exercises, the more muscle you build, and the more fat you burn.  So even as you age, keep up your 10,000 steps a day.  No excuses!
Wendy Batts
Fitness

Muscle and fat are two very different body tissues, so one doesn’t turn into the other. However, we do tend to lose muscle mass and gain fat as we age. This is in large part due to the decline in physical activity that comes with age. As we get older, we often participate less in athletics and recreational activities and spend more time sitting at work, during our commute, or on the couch. Remember, if you don’t use it, you lose it! This coupled with high calorie foods that are readily available, leads to the common weight gain associated with age. The best way to reverse this is to sensibly increase your physical activity and reduce your calorie intake.

Muscle  and fat are two different substances. One will never turn into the other. As we age we typically become less active. This can be for a variety of reasons from decreased balance and vision problems to hip and knee arthritis issues. The decrease in movement will cause your  body to break down muscle tissue. If  you don't use your muscle tissue, it will atrophy and you will lose it. As muscle begins to break down, your  metabolism will also start to decrease. If you do not decrease the amount of calories you are consuming, then  you will start to store the excess calories as fat. It is important to stay as active as  possible. If balance and joint pain  are the issue, work with a certified personal trainer on ways to combat these  challenges. Research has proven that  aging does not mean that your muscles stop working or that you have to get fat. Resistance training is great way to help slow down the reduction of muscle tissue and possibly even increase muscle mass.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.