Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss – here’s what you need to know! It will surprise you for sure.
When you step on the scale and see no change? Don’t be discouraged if you train hard and eat right, but the numbers don’t change. If you do it right, there is bound to be a difference, but you might be measuring the wrong thing. It’s time to tell the difference between weight loss vs. fat loss.
The terms weight loss and fat loss are often used interchangeably, but they can have very different meanings and results. Here’s what you need to know.
What is weight loss?
Your body weight can be divided into two main categories: fat mass and lean mass. Exactly fat mass. What it looks like? Our total body fat level. Lean mass is anything that is not fat and can be broken down into bone mass, muscle mass, water, and organ mass.
This is where it can get confusing. Very few people deliberately try to lose lean mass but are more interested in the equation’s fat side. However, if we only use the scale to look at weight loss, there is no indication of whether we have lost fat, muscle, or anything else.
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Weight loss makes no distinction between what is lost. It is a purely numerical measure that does not consider the quality of what has been lost or gained. Plus, it can be pretty easy to trick the scales.
By simply switching from a high carbohydrate diet to a low carbohydrate diet, you will see a dramatic reduction in weight loss. This is because 1g of stored carbohydrates retains around 3g of water in the body.
This is one of the main reasons people follow a low-carb diet, they almost see instant weight loss, but it’s important to remember that change has nothing to do with fat loss.
- Can other factors influence daily weight fluctuations? They are all normal. Hormonal fluctuations,
- Variable sodium intake,
- Different amounts of dietary fiber,
- And food in the gastrointestinal tract.
All of these factors can cause your weight to fluctuate. When you look at these changes on the scale, is the weight more important than the fat you’ve lost or gained?
What is fat loss?
Everyone has a certain amount of body fat. Is this fat often expressed as a percentage of total body composition? For example, 16% of body fat.
Women tend to have more body fat on average than men. One of the reasons for this is that women need to maintain a higher body fat rate for the reproductive system.
Men also tend to have more lean muscle mass on average than women for a given weight, leading to lower body fat levels.
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A male athlete can have body fat between 7% and 13%, compared to 12% to 20% for women.
Fit and athletic men can represent between 12% and 17%,
and women 17% to 24%.
An average healthy man can have up to 24% and a woman up to 30%.
If fat can be lost, it must be stored. The excess fat is stored in the body’s fat cells called adipocytes. This is where we find the term adipose tissue.
The most common types of body fat (adipocytes) that are referred to are subcutaneous fat (the fat between the skin and muscle) and visceral fat (the fat around organs). There are others, but these are the two most responsible for health and appearance. Fat loss is the breaking down and reduction of these stored fat cells.
We cannot choose where we want to lose fat, and there is no special protocol to help detect the reduction in body fat. This means that you cannot perform an activity that you would like to lose fat in and hope it works.
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How to measure body fat?
There are several ways to measure body fat, but these are usually just predictions based on the equipment used and a mathematical prediction.
Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry analysis (DEXA).
DEXA is currently the gold standard in body composition testing. It uses a type of low-radiation x-ray to determine body fat levels. DEXA scanners were originally used to analyze bone minerals, but they have been found to be useful in testing both fat and fat-free mass with a high degree of accuracy.
A DEXA device is expensive laboratory equipment often used in universities, some hospitals, or in exclusive private practices.
Air displacement plethysmography? Bod Pod.
Similar to DEXA, most Bod pod machines are located in universities, hospitals, or private clinics. Although a little less precise than a DEXA scan, a Bod Pod can be used more frequently if needed. A DEXA scanner emits a small dose of radiation and therefore cannot be used continuously.
A Bod Pod machine uses the displacement of air to determine body fat.
Hydrostatic weighing underwater.
This is a very accurate way to test body fat levels, almost on par with DEXA. Of course, there is a problem with the fact that it is not very convenient to use as the subject must be completely submerged underwater for the test to take place.
A DEXA or Bod Pod sweep is much more convenient.
Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis? BIA.
It is one of the least accurate measurements on how to determine body fat levels. This involves passing an electric current through a scale or a pocket device. There is a large margin of error as well as many variables that can affect the validity and reliability of readings.
Skin folds and circumference measurements.
Skin folds can be a very convenient and non-invasive way of measuring body fat if performed by a qualified practitioner. It involves measuring different sites of skin folds with calipers to determine the levels of body fat.
It should be noted that the sum of skinfolds might be more useful than the actual percentage as fat tends to move around the body and the percentage is an algorithm based on equations. The sum is simply the total of all skin folds added together.
A girth measurement done with a tape measure is a useful way to supplement skinfold testing.
Taking photos regularly can be a great way to measure progress. It doesn’t require any special equipment, just access a camera on the phone. While it is not possible to accurately estimate how much fat you have lost or how much muscle you have gained, it will give you an objective measure of your aesthetic progress.
When most people exercise or diet for cosmetic reasons, visible appearance is an important indicator, and that is what an image does. If you use this method, just try to keep the variables the same every time.
For example, what you wear, how long you shoot, lighting, etc., must remain the same. The more you can reproduce a similar setting, the more the difference will be visible to your body in the photos.
The scale has gotten a lot of bad press lately, and there has been some debate as to whether it is useful for measuring fat loss. However, research indicates that people who weigh themselves more often are more likely to stick to a diet and exercise program while avoiding weight loss.
If someone is severely overweight and begins a new diet and exercise program to lose fat, the numbers on the scale should decrease. It may not be linear, but the trend over time should show a decrease.
The scale might not be as useful for someone in good shape and looking to slightly change their body composition. It will only announce part of the photo, and it is possible to build muscle or lose fat while maintaining a relatively similar weight.
Most people with a significant amount of fat to lose will gain weight change. Perhaps a better option, both trained and untrained, would be to use the scale in combination with images and skinfold measurements if you don’t have access to a more sophisticated measurement tool.
That way, there are several metrics that could help you better understand what is going on.
If you only focus on losing weight, you may not be able to build muscle. Muscle mass weighs more, which can affect the weight of the scale.
If you want to improve your body composition and achieve that defined and toned look, it will help you gain some muscle. There is a bit of a misconception that gaining lean muscle mass helps you lose body fat.
The real difference is only very small in real scenarios. And while it’s possible to lose weight and gain muscle at the same time, it’s best to focus on one goal at a time.
Gain muscle or lose fat. You can do both under a few circumstances, but you’re very unlikely to get the best results. If you are a beginner or just coming back from a long-term injury, then it is possible to lose fat and build muscle.
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If you’ve been training for a long time, you’re unlikely to be doing both effectively. Building muscle requires extra calories while losing fat requires a calorie deficit. So in most cases, the two don’t go well together.
A person who has a lot of lean muscle mass may have a higher metabolic rate due to the presence of more active tissue. Lean muscle is dense and weighs quite a bit. So if you need to be light on the scales for whatever reason, gaining more muscle may not be the best option.
Weight loss vs. fat loss – Take home message
A lot of people talk about weight loss when they really want to lose fat. Most people who are trying to lose weight do it to look better, feel better, and improve their health.
If you are overweight, focusing on the scale can help keep you tight. The fitter and more defined you are, the more important other body fat measurements are in making sure you’re on track to achieving your goals.
Think about what you really want? Do you want to lose weight or fat?
Weight loss vs. fat loss once you know your goals, choose the plan and actions that will get you where you want to be.