There are so many products and gimmicks out there that promise quick weight loss. It’s been a buzz word for more years than I can count! If you’re unhappy with the way you look, your first thought is “I need to lose weight”, but what if I told you that may not be the right answer. Today, I would like to explain to you the difference between weight loss and fat loss to help you gain a better foundation to set achievable health and fitness goals.
So, really…What’s the difference? Like many health-related terms, people get confused when it comes to weight loss and fat loss and tend to use them interchangeably. When you step on a scale, the number reflects the sum weight of your bones, muscles, organs and body fat. In terms of weight loss, you are trying to lower that total sum. When you talk about fat loss, your end goal is to lower your percentage of body fat, the amount of fat your body carries.
Generally speaking, there are few people who actually need to lose “weight”, namely athletes before a competition. But, for the rest of us, our target should be the loss of body fat. The problem with weight loss is that it’s an unreliable measure of health. Your weight can fluctuate daily due to water loss or retention, whether you have just eaten, bladder content, muscle loss or gain and many other factors. It’s really difficult to point to a single thing that could increase or decrease your weight from day to day.
Additionally, an individual with very little body fat, who is, for all intents and purposes, in great shape can weigh more than someone of the same size that is clearly out of shape. A typical bathroom scale does not take into account these differences. So, it’s important not to fixate on a number.
So, what should you do to lose fat while building muscle?
The number one thing you should remember when you start on your fat loss journey is that you need to change your diet – you can’t lose as much body fat with exercise alone. Eat whole foods, protein and vegetables and avoid processed foods and sugar as much as you are able. Secondly, and we touched on this in the past, start strength training. It builds muscle and helps you burn fat.
It’s very difficult to see results quickly, but it’s not difficult to track your progress. Take measurements before you begin your fat loss journey. Measure your arms, chest, waist, hips and legs. Take measurements weekly and keep a journal of your losses. Take full body pictures every two weeks to give yourself a true view of the progress you are making. Keep a journal of your meals to keep yourself accountable for making healthy choices. Make sure you are logging your workouts – again for accountability, but also to have written evidence of the strength you are building!
In the end, your weight is just a number and not something to be fixated upon. Instead, your main goal should be to reduce your body fat down to a healthy level.