The Difference Between Weight Loss and Fat Loss. Why is this important?

Written by Barbara J. Kinney BSN, RN

Did you know that losing weight and losing fat are two different concepts? I bet you’ve never thought of it this way. Most people believe losing weight and losing fat is one in the same, but it is not!

 Both weigh the same, but muscle takes up less space. So, don't fret over the scale because you may be killing fat and gaining muscle!

Both weigh the same, but muscle takes up less space. So, don't fret over the scale because you may be killing fat and gaining muscle!

When you lose weight, you are losing a little bit of everything including fat, muscle, and body fluids. There are even products out there that are targeting your body fluids as a means of weight loss to make you feel like they are effective. Sorry, these are not. The key to healthy living is to target fat loss, not weight loss. So, the question is how do you do this.

1.      Cardio: Any movement that gets your heart rate up and increases blood circulation throughout your body is cardio. When your body is moving, you need more energy, resulting in burning calories, which leads to fat loss.

2.      Resistance Training: It is a myth that women do not need resistance training. You will not bulk up; instead, you will tone muscles creating the lean look you are going for. The best part is that resistance training increases muscle tone, thereby increasing metabolic rate, thereby increasing fat loss. Yes, fat loss!

3.      Diet: Diet is key to fat loss. Sorry, but eating mac & cheese every day is not going to get you to your goals. Eliminate snacks and sugary foods. Eat a diet rich in protein (which helps build lean muscle) and lean meats. The key is to eat foods that help you reach your goals, but do not add to muscle loss.

4.      The Scale: No, the scale is not always perfect. You can easily jump on a scale one week a part and see a decrease in weight, but this does not tell us if that weight was fat loss or overall loss that includes muscle. The idea is to target fat and keep muscle, so what to do? Have your body fat percentage calculated and utilize this as a part of your weight loss plan. Recheck at intervals that makes sense for you.  Remember that both fat and muscle can weigh the same, but muscle takes up less space. So, don't fret over the scale because you may be killing fat and gaining muscle!

The key here is to focus on fat loss and not weight loss. You can lose a ton of weight and still have a high fat content on your body. Get your body fat measured and spend less time obsessing over the scale AND remember that healthy balanced diets, cardio, and resistance training will get you to your goal!

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