Losing Weight vs. Losing Fat - What's the Difference?

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Weight loss and fat loss are two huge buzzwords used in our society today. It seems like everywhere you turn there are products or services promising you weight loss or fat loss. Often, these two terms are used interchangeably even though they don't necessarily mean the same thing. But how are they different? Let's talk about losing weight vs. losing fat and what exactly the difference is!

Let's Clear Some Things Up: 

  • Weight Loss: When you lose body weight, which is the sum of your muscle, fat, skin, hair, bones, organs, etc. 
  • Fat Loss: A more specific type of weight loss that occurs when only your body fat decreases.  

The Problem with the scale: 
Most people wanting to lose weight are actually only wanting to lose body fat. When they step on the scale and see their weight fluctuating for other reasons like hormone changes, water retention, muscle gain/loss, etc., they become discouraged and confused when in reality the scale is just not a reliable tool to calculate body fat percentage. 

Clothes, mirrors, and pictures are all better indicators of fat loss than a scale. A tool that can help you accurately track your fat loss progress is a fat caliper. It's a cheap and easy way to measure your body fat percentage. 

The table below shows the ideal body fat % for men and women according to The American Council of Exercise (ACE):

 

Women

Men

Minimum Fat Needed to Live

10-13%

2-5%

Professional Athletes

14-20%

6-13%

Fitness Junkies

21-24%

14-17%

Average

25-31%

18-24%

Overweight

32% and up 

25% and up



Train to Lose Fat, Not Muscle!
Part of the fat loss equation comes with the time you put in the gym. Many people who want to lose fat quickly do tons and tons of cardio all day, every day. Cardio is great, but like all things, too much of a good thing is not so good. Doing only cardio can result in muscle loss instead of fat loss. Instead a better/smarter way to exercise is to do weight training while adding in some cardio a few days/week. HIIT Training is a great cardio option for you to add into your fitness regime. Click here to lean more about HIIT!!

The Bottom Line

  • When it comes to losing body fat, what you eat is 75% of the battle. Eating junk, eating too much, or even eating too little can hinder any fat loss program no matter how hard you train. 
  • Don't let the scale get you down-- you can still be losing body fat and making progress even if the scale is not moving or going up!

 


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