Fat Loss vs Weight Loss

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I’ve read many testimonials where people are very excited about their shrinking waist size and the various methods used to achieve these victories. Then I later read where the person is disappointed because although they lost weight, they still are not satisfied with the way they look. One cause of this is due to them not preserving the muscle tone they had when they started their weight loss journey. We all know weight loss can be achieved by diet alone since our diet is the most important component to losing weight, however simply losing 100 pounds by diet alone will leave you with a deflated version of your larger self. The following is an article from stronglifts.com to address the disparities between the two:

Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss. What’s the difference? Let’s start by defining weight loss & fat loss so you know what I mean here.

  • Weight Loss. You want to lower your body-weight, the sum weight of your bones, muscles, organs, body fat, …
  • Fat Loss. You want to lower your body fat, the amount of fat your body carries. Healthy goals are 10% body fat for men and 15% for women.

Problems with Weight Loss. If you want to lose weight, it’s most likely because you carry too much fat. There are people who must lose weight, like athletes before a competition, but most want fat loss. So stop weighing yourself.

  • Unreliable. Your body-weight can fluctuate daily since it’s influenced by your stomach/bowel/bladder content, water loss/retention, muscle loss/gain, fat loss/gain, … You’ll have no idea what’s going on.
  • Irrelevant. 2 people with similar height can weigh the same, but look completely different because one has lower body fat than the other.

Here’s How The Weight Scale Can Mislead You.Clothes, mirrors & pictures don’t lie. Neither do fat calipers. But the weight scale can become your worst enemy by misleading you and killing your motivation. Examples:

  • Carbs & Water. Carbs bind to water. So eating less carbs will make you lose weight: water loss. This is why you lose so much weight on a diet like Atkins the first 2 weeks: it’s mostly water. Of course, increasing your carb intake will make you gain weight again: water retention.
  • Muscle Gains & Fat Loss. You’ll gain muscle while losing fat when you get into strength training. But on the weight scale it will look like you’re not making progress: your body-weight doesn’t change.


How to Make Sure You Lose Fat, Not Muscle?
Check the picture above: 5lbs muscle takes less space than 5lbs fat. That means you’ll look slimmer at the same body-weight by building muscle. Keys to losing fat, not muscle:

  • Get Stronger. Strength training builds muscle & prevents muscle loss. It also helps sticking to your diet. Check the StrongLifts 5×5 routine.
  • Eat Healthy. Eat whole unprocessed foods 90% of the time and eat less starchy carbs. Check the 8 nutrition rules.

You can do cardio to speed up fat loss. But without strength training, cardio will cause muscle loss and you’ll end up skinny-fat. Avoid.


How to Track Progress Efficiently.
You don’t need to track progress weekly, changes wouldn’t be drastic enough. Track progress every 2 weeks.

  • Stop Weighing Yourself Daily. The daily fluctuations will mess with your motivation. Weigh yourself once every 2 weeks, not more.
  • Stop Looking in The Mirror. Self-image issues can skew perception. Shoot full body pictures and compare them with old ones.
  • Track Body Fat. Get a fat caliper and track your body fat every 2 weeks. Use this how-to guide and watch this video.
  • Take Measurements. Girth measurements of your neck, chest, arms, waist & thighs. Waist should go down, rest should go up.
  • Shoot Pictures. Full body pictures from ankle to neck, front/back/side, every 2 weeks. Compare with your previous pics.
  • Strength Stats. Log your workouts. Strength going up means muscle gains and strength training prevents muscle breakdown.

Listen also to what people say. They’ll notice your body change more than you will. Clothes will start to feel differently too.

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3 thoughts on “Fat Loss vs Weight Loss

  1. joliesattic

    There is truth to that but at the same, certain health issues such as diabetes, type 2 diabetes, thyroid functions, can prevent weight loss as well.
    I worked out with a trainer for months and although my body was looking better, I was not losing weight. When we identified the problem, improvement resulted but at a much slower rate than others might have.
    What counts is, as you say, how you look.

    Like

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