If you don’t eat, does your body eat your muscle or fat first?

As expected, this is also false. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone – it just doesn’t make sense. Off of the top of your head name some important muscles: heart, diaphragm, right? These are necessary to our life. Without them, we don’t function. Why would your body go and target these areas BEFORE going and eating away at fat? After all, stored fat has more energy than muscle (over twice as much, actually) and when was the last time you called someone “starving” because they had only fat and no muscle on them? That’s right, you didn’t.

So why do we continue insisting that our bodies are somehow programmed to preferentially break down our muscles over our energy rich fat? I think Alloran on Fitocracy made the best analogy – “Why tear apart chairs, tables, bed frames, etc. to build a fire when there’s a pile of firewood just outside the door?”

But I wouldn’t call myself Bill Nye with a vagina is I didn’t throw some science at you.

During a two day fast you have a 5 fold increase in Growth Hormone. Growth hormone is what tells the body to conserve protein and therefore muscles. More GH, more protein conservation. GH is a jack of all trades, though, because this badass chick also promotes lipolysis. For those of you who need a Latin reminder, lipo = fat lysis = killing or destroying.  GH kills fat and saves protein.  I told you she was a badass chick.

Growth Hormone isn’t the only big bad chick proving that you burn fat during fasting. Glycerol (released when the body breaks down stored fat) and palmitic acid (also found in fats) are high in the plasma during the first 12-72 hours of fasting. In fact, they double.

But if there’s so much science – and common sense – showing that you don’t lose muscle preferentially, where did it come from? Turns out a few studies showed a decrease in lean body mass (muscle) during a fast. Don’t worry, new science helped to remedy what may have been a misunderstanding. Turns out that majority of the “weight loss” from muscle was a loss of glycogen and water. Glycogen, for you non-bio nerds, is the stored form of glucose. So most of the loss of “mass” from muscle was water and stored glucose. Additionally, these same studies showed that about 14% of the energy from a fast came from protein, whereas 85% came from stored fat.

So no, skipping breakfast, participating in IF, or even lying on the couch all day not eating because you’re sick and lazy won’t cause your body to eat your muscles away. It just doesn’t make sense.

Comments (89)

  1. Chase Richardville

    I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one these days..

  2. Beta Force And Max Thermo Burn

    I am sure this article has touched all the internet viewers,
    its really really pleasant piece of writing on building
    up new website.

  3. Order Anatomy X5

    This is a topic that’s close to my heart… Many thanks! Exactly where are your contact details though?

  4. Ren

    How many days would you have to fast in order to lose a lot of fat

    1. betchnugget

      It depends on how much muscle you have. In other words, you don’t want to fast in order to lose fat. All your muscle will be eaten away before any fat is.

  5. Cardsharing Cccam Faq

    This post is priceless. When can I find out more?

    Review my weblog Cardsharing Cccam Faq

  6. Miguel d(^0^)b

    I know you mentioned it, but in my words. sitting and not eating will not make my musicale go away right? -_-

    1. Miguel d(^0^)b

      O yea please message me back and thank you of the good info.

    2. Michael

      Wouldn’t it cause muscle atrophy? I mean I know when I get lazy @ times for days at a time (2 or 3 days consecutively e.g.) I definitely feel softer, muscle wise. The muscles in the upper body decreases in inflammation. I remember watching on discovery channel how us humans lose weight… The sequence is your body takes from the fats first, after that’s completely gone it starts to affect the muscle for energy purposes.

    3. Jake

      Na u good

  7. abigail

    You are stupid it burns muscle and fat that’s why u can loose definition and muscle mass withing 2 days of not eating

    1. carrie

      Umm.. I don’t think you read the whole post Abigail… the point is you lose more fat than muscle if you just sit around. Calling people “stupid” is actually pretty stupid

      1. Mohammad Mohammad

        ikr carrie

    2. Eddie

      The blog even states that the muscle mass lost is a form of glycogen and water and not the muscle itself. Did you even read it? I can vouch for this blog post since I’m a biology major and going to attend medical school.

    3. Jake

      no you are stupid abigail
      the thing is the body will go for the things that have more nutrients, the belly fat.
      then it will go to the muscle if the body needs the extra nutrients.

    4. Veronika


  8. Adair

    Wow! You are an idiot if you think the heart and diafragm are muscles. They are organs

    1. carrie

      do a little research before posting “idiotic” comments

    2. Sharon

      They are muscles, smooth muscles. Know your anatomy.

      1. Jake

        Omfg good job high five really I’m sure half these people wouldn’t know that so
        good job

    3. Sharon

      And cardiac muscles.

      1. Romiro

        Even if he might not know the correct anatomy, he is absolutely correct in what he is saying,people should just have respect for other people

    4. Peter

      LOLOL Your Heart is a giant muscle, not sure if you’re trolling or you didn’t pay much attention in anatomy, if you don’t believe me look up (on google) Is the heart a muscle? and the diaphragm pulls down on your lungs only muscles pull and push, so common sense says it’s a muscle too, not sure if troll or just really stupid

    5. Mohammad Mohammad

      Wow, you dumbass. Your heart is an organ, but it is classified as a MUSCULAR ORGAN. The diaphragm is a sheet of MUSCLE….dumbfuck. Leave the guy alone, this blog is great.

    6. nick

      wow! Not a cardiologist are you

    7. mac

      Nope sorry your heart is a muscle

    8. Davin

      Idiot the heart and the diaphragm is two big muscles,organs yes but muscle nun the less,

    9. Sandeep

      Dumbest comment ever.

    10. Jake

      the heart is not a muscle but the diaphragm is.

  9. Petrova

    ^ Despite its classification as an organ, the heart is made up of a lot of muscle. Don’t be so quick to call people stupid or you end up looking stupid yourself.

    1. carrie


  10. Dorie

    I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you make this website
    yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?

    Plz respond as I’m looking to create my own blog and would like to know where u got this from. kudos

  11. Bennie

    I got this web site from my buddy who informed me concerning this site and now this time I am visiting this
    site and reading very informative posts at this time.

  12. sex randki

    Hello would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using? I’m going to start my own blog soon but I’m having a difficult time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I’m
    looking for something completely unique. P.
    S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

  13. duże cycki

    I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don’t know who
    you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉

  14. Marlene

    Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyhow, I’m definitely glad I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back often!

  15. ulubione

    Hi, its good article about media print, we all understand media is a great source of information.

  16. hörsam

    Definitely believe that which you said. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the net the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get irked while people consider worries that they just do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

  17. konta firmowe

    Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having trouble locating it but, I’d like to
    shoot you an e-mail. I’ve got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it improve over time. konta firmowe

  18. super randka

    It’s the best time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I have read this put up and if I may I desire to counsel you some interesting things or tips. Maybe you can write subsequent articles regarding this article. I desire to read even more issues about it!

  19. sex

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was wondering what all is needed to get setup? I’m assuming having
    a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very internet smart so I’m not 100% sure.

    Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Many thanks

  20. super randki

    I just like the helpful information you supply for your articles.
    I will bookmark your blog and take a look at once more right here regularly.
    I’m relatively sure I will be told lots of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

  21. randka

    Hello my family member! I wish to say that this article is awesome,
    nice written and come with approximately all vital infos. I’d like to peer extra posts like this .

  22. super randki

    Awesome issues here. I am very happy to see your article.
    Thanks a lot and I am looking ahead to contact you.

    Will you kindly drop me a mail?

  23. sex randki

    Hello, I think your website might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your blog site in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.

    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!
    Other then that, terrific blog!

  24. Rich

    I hate to be a hater, but this author is so misinformed is laughable. Your body knows how to distinguish muscle and organs, it doesnt just classify it all together. Your ‘logic’ is illogical on so many levels, and anyone who works out can tell you that skipping a meal or two makes DRASTIC differences in your muscle retention. ATP is the most readily available form of energy and is most present in your muscles. Fat takes time and effort to convert into usable energy. You really shouldn’t blog bad information, its dangerously misleading to the common public

    1. Karolyn

      Well there is brown & white fat with brown fat being more usable. So your stranded with no food for months. It’s rare to see flabby men sitting there at 3 month mark. Maybe the body reserves muscle. Don’t eat,lose fat, that simple.

  25. dar

    Very good paragraphs , just the answer I was looking for as there is alot off articules contradicting each other on this topic , unfortunately .

  26. expelis

    Attractive article, and the website give the impression pleasant on all sides as well, I feel very excited and satisfying for your article. Your quality is so good that’s why you must admire for this. Tanks and all the best.

  27. Chrystal Overly

    Hello.This post was really remarkable, particularly because I was looking for thoughts on this issue last couple of days.

  28. locksmith 15222

    I’ve been surfing online greater than three hours as of late, yet I by no means discovered any interesting article like yours. It is pretty value enough for me. In my opinion, if all website owners and bloggers made just right content as you did, the internet can be much more useful than ever before.

  29. darmowe porno

    Hello There. I discovered your weblog the usage
    of msn. This is an extremely well written article.

    I will make sure to bookmark it and return to learn extra of your useful info.
    Thanks for the post. I will certainly return.

  30. errol

    Hi I haven’t eaten for 30 days and haven’t had liquids for 4 days and still going strong only lost 12kgs then if I continue not eating or drinking what will happen

  31. source

    Dude this is the truth. Rock on.

  32. Men's Athletic Footwear

    Many thanks some other useful web page. The location in addition may perhaps I am getting that kind of information developed in a real perfect manner? I’ve a opportunity that we are just now jogging with, i have been receiving the start looking away for such information.

  33. locksmith merrick ny

    I used to be recommended this blog through my cousin. I am now not sure whether this post is written by way of him as nobody else know such unique approximately my problem. You’re amazing! Thank you!

  34. dr. kevin sands

    Heya just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t
    loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
    I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same results.

    Also visit my web site :: dr. kevin sands

  35. Yasmin Cambareri

    Wow, amazing blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is magnificent, as well as the content!. Thanks For Your article about If you don& .

  36. Alexandra

    My goodness are you amazing! Common sense wins again. Thanks for this posting. I’ve often wondered the same… We don’t NEED fat as much as we need muscles. If excess fat was created to be stored for later, why wouldn’t it be the very first thing to go!?
    Thanks again!

  37. att

    Not sure if the logic connects here… No one says your body ONLY eats muscle. Of course it also eats fat, so the “when was the last time you called someone “starving” because they had only fat and no muscle on them?” comment isn’t very relevant because a starving person would break down all available sources of energy, both muscle AND fat. Also, the heart and diaphragm comments don’t work either. Your body knows those aren’t disposable, but it does eat your biceps and other muscles, so obviously you can’t use those as examples for your case. It seems like purposely framing the context in a way to support a point.
    Another thing: the question was if your body burns muscle or fat FIRST, and your answer was “false.” Wtf? Then you go on to support how your body won’t go for muscle, even though it will. Yes, fat has more energy. By that I think you mean 1g of fat has more calories than 1g of protein. But this doesn’t mean your body automatically goes for “energy rich fat.” You fail to mention that it takes more calories/energy to maintain muscle, so it would also make sense that your body would kill 2 birds with 1 stone by getting energy from muscles and also reducing the amount of energy it needs to maintain your overall muscle. A very muscular person would lose a lot more muscle than fat during fasting than a very fat person would. Muscular and fat people aside, according to the National Council on Strength and Fitness, or NCSF, those who fast or skip meals start to lose mainly lean muscle tissue.
    Your bit about the growth hormone is why people do IF for body building, but it doesn’t mean fasting doesn’t eat muscle. These body builders increase their HGH and then intake a lot of protein. If you’re straight fasting, HGH is pretty pointless because there’s no protein for it to synthesize.
    This is dragging on a bit so I’ll get to your last section. Your muscles’ main fuel is glucose, so if those are gone, then your body can’t maintain the muscle. Also, the 14% vs 85% thing is misleading. Like you said, fat has more energy, so it takes far less fat than muscle to provide energy. The way you presented the numbers would make it look like almost 6x as much fat was lost, but not even 3x as much fat was lost once you convert the calories to grams.
    In the end, there are parts that are true and parts that are misleading about this. If you’re going to fast, you should do IF so you can manipulate your body to burn fat and maintain muscle. If you’re just going to fast for a long time or you’re just skipping a bunch of meals, you will definitely lose a lot of muscle.

    1. briana

      Thank you.. I had almost lost my faith in the brains of all humanity after reading relenting comment after comment praising this blog.. But now I know there’s at least ONE person who’s smarter than a fifth grader here.. Keep eating your vegetables. It shows!! Hope you have a blog of your own!!

  38. Katie

    This post is poorly written.

    [If you don’t eat, does your body eat your muscle or fat first? As expected, this is also false. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone – it just doesn’t make sense.]

    The first sentence in this post is what doesn’t make sense. You should have titled this “If you don’t eat, does your body eat your muscle first?” What you said was that it doesn’t make sense to think your body uses muscle or fat.

  39. wiigamespartii

    Whoever answered this must be really smart

  40. Isaac

    Love att’s comment. anyone who has a deeper understanding of biology than a what a high school education gives you would know that science is definately twisted in this blog for the authors purpose. the author takes her knowledge and then makes assumptions instead of the whole article being based off facts. people like this article because they want to believe it instead of looking for references and seeing if there is any truth. thats why this country is full of sheep. too many idiots being swayed with twisted truths and people just nod their heads as if to say “yeah.. that sounds right. lets go with that!”

  41. stone island shirts

    Ny Cable DealsCable television, telephone as well as internet providers allow us to higher meet the needs from the existing customers. These days, telecommunications businesses that provide these types of services supply all of them in a greater high quality, with an increase of capabilities, for any less expensive. Cable television,stone island shirts, telephone and web providers have advanced, not just generally, but individually too. Check out these kinds of wonderful Cable Offers.As a result

  42. Tropical bird

    Muscle takes more calories to maintain than fat does. If your food intake is nil or close to it and you are not exercising, your body will reckon it can lose some of the expensive muscle and should keep the fat. Basically, it thinks you are holed up in a cave somewhere, waiting for the big freeze to thaw.

    However, if you are working out, even on low calories, your body will reckon you need the muscle to find whatever food is out there, so it’s less likely to burn muscle and more likely to burn fat.

    As long as you are using your muscles, your body won’t burn it except as a last resort.

  43. Renee

    Thank you! I have been working so hard to lose weight and have been told numerous times, the body eats muscle before fat. For the life of me I could not grasp that because if thats the case then why is it that people who don’t eat….or reduce intake lose and or are thin! Thank u again ur awesome this cleared up allot!

  44. Pingback: 5 Myths about the hCG Diet - Thyroid and Metabolism

  45. mehedi hasan

    I know you mentioned it, but in my words. sitting and not eating will not make my musicale go away right? -_-

  46. Kathy Skaggs

    I have read the full content and I think, it doesn’t make sense because my friend fasted for not more than a month. I knew that fasting, still do eat to get enough energy by eating and drinking the right amount and the right food. I have noticed that she has changed physically, since she is bigger than me particularly her biceps. She lost weight and her muscles sagged. Fasting makes you feel starving too because of skipping meals to detoxify one’s body. We have different perception though.

  47. Bob

    ATP can be made from body fat. I firmly believe that a well balanced diet is key for the average person. Everyone’s goals are different! If your a bodybuilder and trying to get as lean as possible then I can greatly see how extremely low carb intake can be beneficial! And yes I agree that the “flatness” you see in mirror is only water loss from muscle cells! Hence why bodybuilders carb load a few days before competition.


  48. Dale Toney

    Muscle and fat are lost according to how your body prefers to pack it on. For me, I lose fat from arms and chest and belly, then I start losing more muscle. Then finally the butt fat comes off last.

    There is no one correct answer because all our bodies prefer to lose differently.

  49. Nate

    Very hopefull info,You made pefect sense,if the body store fat for engery then why would it burn muscle rather than the engery that is store?..

  50. Dr. Love

    So buy some Dumbbells and a cheap bench and work your muscles while you fast. If you are like me and have 15 ponnds of pure belly fat stored then your muscles will pull energy from that fat to rebuild themselves. You lose fat fasting due to zero calorie intake plus you burn calories in your sleep while your muscles rebuild! When the scale or the mirror show your fat is disappearing or gone resume with a heathy diet of small portions often combined with continued weight lifting or cardio exercises. The author is right in the basic premise that how many starved fat people do you find logically and are their muscles gone as well? Less muscle? Of course but no fat. Don’t need to be a doctor or biologist just common sense listen to your body and study it, the metrics…blood pressure, etc it will tell you what works and what does not

  51. Perry

    Love the article. Thank ya.

    But there are some real idiots out there who think the opposite.

    Example: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2013/12/diet-myth-news-flash-eating-less-cause-fat-loss/#comment-741186

    This fool honestly thinks that muscle gets burned before fat, and that eating less does now burn calories.

  52. Perry

    I meant “not” instead of “now” in that last sentence.


    1. Perry

      Who cares what you meant?

  53. Hannah

    Ahh thank u! Thought so, this makes so much more sense! 🙂

  54. Hildegarde Canul

    Have you ever considered about including a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is fundamental and all. Nevertheless think about if you added some great visuals or videos to give your posts more, pop! Your content is excellent but with pics and videos, this site could definitely be one of the best in its field. Amazing blog!


  55. Ubaldo Jimenez Jersey UK

    Getting inspiration from the past and the present, these restaurants offer a genuinely stellar dining encounter,Jason Kipnis Jersey, whether it is in their own casual club, relaxed lounge, private dining room,Adam Lind Jersey, or main dining room. It has become an important part in their day to day life. Learn to be wise about this process and you will have a successful soccer season. The pyramid scheme is something to watch for. Author Resource:-A lot of people pay a visit to our cheap fut coin

  56. Drew

    My common sense always told me that if I fasted for a few days my body would cannibalize fat before muscle. After reading this I feel stupid for doubting myself and feeling the need to look it up!

  57. Andres Iniesta Jersey

    Before submitting your site it is usually best to do an audit of your website so you could find out broken links,Vincent Janssen Jersey, lacking tags,Ryan Fulton Jersey, along with other glitches so they could be addressed on time and also before the release of your site. Are you confused about how to resolve slow internet speed? Give us a call now and have the best solution. This article will give you some ideas to feel a bit a lot less intimidated when shopping for that ideal engagement ring.

  58. Joe Allen Jersey

    The company’s administrative director, Luis Estrada, told El Nuevo Herald on Monday that the company’s owner,Bernie Williams Jersey UK, Alex P?rez, was meeting with company officials and added that he was not authorized to comment on the issue "><strong>Coupons Code< strong>< a> andheri to dahisar properties sunteck city goregaon west mumbai by sunteck realty ltd " target="_blank"> Comfortable shoes will let you to stand and walk far more naturally, wh

  59. Granit Xhaka Jersey

    The business wanted to easily simplify the procedure for making it easier to the agent thus it has created the idea of operating the entire bicycle carrier using a foot pedal. So what impresses american a lot of was in fact information on how swift to retort everybody was their very own finish. An interesting fact that you should know about this type of services is that only professionals can do a good job. A great deal of back discomfort is caused by not lifting heavy objects appropriately. You

  60. Augusto Fernandez Argentina Jersey

    This became the place where he began his early professors. These professionals graduate from an assortment of finance-oriented higher learning institutions with top grades. Monochrome colors work best for official purposes while the brighter ones go for outdoor activity. Till date the city has established a number of small, medium and large scale industries and businesses here. Men clients can be made to understand about the product by simply drawing the outlook of the product using a simple pen

  61. Customized Brazil Soccer Jersey

    If your design is not up to the mark,Zach LaVine College Jersey, it’ll reflect in the popularity of the site. Check out my internet site when you want to know more about Missing Season 1 Episode 1 and Archer Season 3 Episode 12.A. People from all round the country come here in search of better job opportunities,Jake Butt College Jersey, safe and secure residential locations and a strong educational base. They are special fluid chemicals that bond to the oil molecules and separate them from

  62. Ragnar Klavan Jersey

    exe to install the ISA Server 2004 Firewall Client. It ought to offer optimum comfort as well as relax. You are the network administrator for your company. You will be able to give the monthly fee from your commission earned once your people started joining it. Things will work themselves out. Obtaining a work permit can often be frustrating and confusing and you want someone experienced with this area to help you. You will be able to give the monthly fee from your commission earned once your pe

  63. Jonathan Lucroy USA Jersey

    3. 8. They want to focus on the skills of their three sports3. A strength training program designed for triathletes will ultimately develop muscular strength and joint mobility. Keep in mind, an individual shouldnt appraise just about any strategy at this time. The players of volley ball should always carry out one or more exercises for each group of muscle. This material impersonates nature with its opalescence and straightforwardness,Yan Gomes Jersey, much like the common crystals in tooth pol

  64. Francisco Rodriguez Venezuela Jersey

    This Nokia 3555 Mobile Phone’s camera does record video,Patrick Mahomes II Women’s Jersey, but the appearance is extremely poor.You can talk to multiple hospices and request services from the hospice that you feel will best take care of you and your family’s. If they are so large that they seem rushed to adequately answer your questions, you should use a better hospice agency. Apart from helping to recover from weak erection,Adam Shaheen Bears Jersey, this herbal pill also offers effective cure


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Website Protected by Spam Master