It’s relatively important that you understand the difference between weight loss and fat loss. In certain cases these terms are used interchangeably and it’s most likely because individuals don’t fully understand the difference.
I don’t know if it’s just me or if other trainers experience the same issue but I wanted to touch on it today because of its importance.
I’ve had clients who don’t care about weight and I’ve had clients who weigh themselves daily. Those that weigh themselves daily live in a constant state of frustration because they don’t see the results they’re hoping for.
This could be because….
1. The scale fluctuates by the minute based off of a variety of factors. It’s explained in one of my previous blogs here. This is important to understand.
2. Changes happen slowly – It’s a process. The sooner this “clicks” the more relaxed, focused, and happier you’ll be. I wrote about how fitness results happen here.
3. Losing body fat is hard – Not only does the scale fluctuate daily and the process takes time, it’s also difficult. There can be a lot of factors that go into losing body fat and if your lifestyle isn’t necessarily set up to achieve this, it makes it damn near impossible.
So, I’ll fill you in.
There is a major difference between weight loss and fat loss. They are not the same thing.
Weight Loss – A reduction or lowering of bodyweight, the sum of your bones, muscles, organs and body fat.
Fat Loss – A reduction or lowering of the amount of fat your body carries.
If you want to lose weight it’s most likely because you carry too much fat.
“The goal should be lose fat, rather than lose weight.”
By saying this, I’m not implying that it’s a bad thing to lose weight. If you’re losing weight properly, you most likely are losing body fat so it’s a win either way. However, not all weight loss is good weight loss and not all weight gain is bad weight gain.
The problem is losing “weight” can be a very unreliable predictor of what is actually happening. It’s one of the many metrics that is used to track progress but it’s also one of the most skewed. Weight loss isn’t linear and it shouldn’t be totally neglected when it comes to monitoring and tracking your goals. There are just better metrics that will provide you clearer data on your progress.
Many people start a diet and can lose up to 7-10 lbs in the first seven days. This isn’t actually FAT but rather a combination of things that are discussed here. This is also the reason that you might go out for a night of drinking and gain 3-5 lbs over night. You didn’t all of a sudden gain 5 pounds of fat.
Take a look at the image above. You notice on the weight loss side of the scale you see fat, water and muscle. The last part is the key part. There can be a significant amount of muscle mass that is lost if that individual isn’t strength training. That’s not ideal and that’s not good “weight loss.”
Here is a good chart comparing the two:
|Crash Dieting and Poor Training
|Proper Nutrition and Training
|√ Decreased Fitness
|√ Improved Fitness
|√ Decreased Strength
|√ Increased Strength
|√ Poor Performance
|√ Peak Performance
|√ Early Aging
|√ Delayed Aging
|√ Reduced Immunity
|√ Reduced Risk of Diseases
Here’s another thing that must be understood. The picture below represents 5 pounds of fat and 5 pounds of muscle. As you can see the 5 pounds of muscle is far more dense and takes up less space than fat.
When you start to build muscle and lose fat you actually begin to shrink. I can’t begin to explain how many times I’ve had clients tell me their clothes fit better yet the weight on the scale hasn’t changed. That alone further reiterates the lack of importance of the scale weight.
So What Should You Do?
That’s the million dollar question. First, adjust your nutrition so that you begin to eat healthier. Second, find a strength training program that you will stick with for at least 12 weeks.
The key though is to get your body fat tested. Ideally, find a bod pod or dexa scan in your area. This is important because you want to know how much Lean Muscle Mass you have. The goal should be to maintain or increase that number. If you do that, along with a proper nutrition program, you will not only lose fat but you’ll also lose weight!