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Difference Between Red and White Muscle

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Difference Between Red and White Muscle Free PDF Download

IVSAT 2024

Red and White Muscles are the skeletal Muscles in our body and they perform some critical functions in the body. Skeletal Muscles, both Red and White, serve a variety of roles in the body. Red Muscles get their name from the fact that they have a lot of capillaries and are high levels of myoglobin and mitochondria, giving them a distinct Red color. White Muscles, on the other hand, have less mitochondria and myoglobin, giving them a "whitish" look. Continue reading to learn more about the Red and White Muscle. At Vedantu, we have created a summary of the difference between Red and White Muscle for an easy understanding of the students. Let’s first understand what these Muscles are. 

There are almost 600 Muscles in a human body and these are classified into three categories; skeletal Muscles, cardiac Muscles, and smooth Muscles. The musculoskeletal system of the body has two basic components: the Muscles (musculo) and the skeletal structure upon which these Muscles are attached. These skeletal Muscles can be categorized into Red Muscles and White Muscles.

Red Muscles

Red Muscles are Red because of the presence of dense capillaries that are rich in myoglobin and mitochondria. One of the main difference between Red and White Muscle Fibers is the colour which is deep Red for Red Muscles because of myoglobin which is present in the sarcoplasm (cytoplasm) of the Muscle Fiber. The myoglobin present in Red Muscles binds oxygen and stores it as oxymyoglobin in the Red Fibers. During Muscle contraction, oxymyoglobin releases the oxygen requiRed. A good example of Red Muscles is the extensor Muscle.

White Muscles

White Muscles have a lesser amount of myoglobin and mitochondria and hence appear whitish. An example of White Muscle is the eyeball Muscle. White Muscle is a kind of muscular tissue seen in fish that is made up of fast-twitch Muscle Fibers that are designed to contract quickly. Fast swimming movements and escape reflexes require White Muscles. They are grouped in a helical form rather than parallel to the body axis and lay deeper in the body than the Red Muscles utilized for sluggish swimming. When they compress, this configuration causes significant body curvature.

Let’s look at the Red and White Muscle difference in detail below


Red Muscles

White Muscles

Presence of Mitochondria

They are more in number in the body

Lesser in number than they are in Red Muscle


Red Muscles are thinner

White Muscles are thicker than Red Muscles

Capillary bed

Capillary bed is denser

It is less dense

Contraction rate

The contraction rate of Red Muscles is slower than in White Muscle

The contraction rate is faster than that of Red Muscles

Sarcoplasmic Reticulum (SR)

They have a lesser amount of SR than White Muscle

They have  more SR than Red Muscle

Fatigue rate

Red Muscles can perform aerobic oxidation without collecting a lot of lactic acids. This helps the Red Muscles to contract for a long period

White Muscles perform anaerobic oxidation and in the process, they accumulate more lactic acid than the Red Muscles. This leads to fatigue in the Muscles after a short period of contraction.

Oxygen utilization

Red Muscles use more oxygen than White Muscles and this is one of the reasons why they are used in strenuous activities like exercise.

White Muscles use a lesser amount of oxygen than the Red Muscles

Energy generation

They rely only on oxygen to generate energy and are thus also called slow-oxidative Muscles.

They are rich in glycogen and enzymes of glycolysis which gives them the requiRed energy.


They have slow-twitch Fibers that contract slowly for a long time without fatigue

They have fast-twitch Fibers that contract faster for a short period and get tiRed soon.


Extensor Muscles of the human

Eyeball Muscle

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FAQs on Difference Between Red and White Muscle

Why are the Red Muscle Fibres Called Slow-twitch Fibres?

The twitching speed is one of the main difference between red and white muscle fibres. Red muscle fibres are called slow-twitch fibres as they contract slowly for a long time without experiencing any kind of fatigue. An example of red muscles is the extensor muscles. This is one of the reasons why red muscles are put to use during strenuous activities like exercising. Red muscle fibres get their energy from fat and glycogen by using oxygen. This is aerobic energy generation and since it is a lengthy process, the muscles contract slowly. Red muscles have a high tolerance for fatigue and do not tire out easily. 

Why are the White Muscle Fibres Called Fast-twitch Fibres?

Unlike red muscle fibres, the white muscle fibres can contract faster and this is why they are called fast-twitch fibres. These muscles have low myoglobin and low oxygen content. White muscles therefore do not depend on oxygen for their energy but get it from glycogen. This anaerobic energy generation process is faster and it helps the white muscle fibres to contract faster and stronger. White muscles tire out easily and this is the reason why the body activates them at the last.

What are muscle fibers?

The dependence on oxidative phosphorylation differentiates skeletal Muscle Fibers into unique Fiber types with diverse metabolic features (OXPHOS). We discoveRed that, as compaRed to glycolytic Fibers, OXPHOS-dependent Fibers had extended mitochondrial networks with greater fusion rates, which are reliant on the mitofusins Mfn1 and Mfn2. The conversion of a glycolytic Fiber to an oxidative IIA type is connected to mitochondrial elongation, implying that mitochondrial fusion is related to metabolic status. Furthermore, we show that mitochondrial proteins are divided into separate domains centered on their origin nuclei. The mitochondrial dynamics proteins Mfn1, Mfn2, and Mff govern the domain dimensions, which are determined by Fiber type. Our findings show that mitochondrial dynamics are tuned to fiber type physiology, which explains the segmental abnormalities seen in aging and sick Muscle Fibers.

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