I read somewhere that muscle fibers stay around when you lose muscle but that they only shrink (hence why people can more quickly re-add muscle after a long break than when they first put it on).
- Is this true, or during muscle loss, are muscle fibers consumed by the body?
- If they do shrink, is there a time period for which they stay around? For instance, Christian Bale lost a dramatic amount of weight for his role in The Mechanic after he had gained a lot of muscle for Batman. Had he stayed at his weight in the Mechanic, is there some point at which he would have to rebuild all new muscle from scratch?
From what I could find, this link seems to indicate that fiber count stays the same, at least when atrophy is from lack of use (which is mainly what I was curious about) but I still wonder about the two questions above if anyone has any more details.