Weight loss V’s Fat Loss – The Key Differences
Weight Loss simply refers to a lower number on the scales. Normally this is time to celebrate, right? Well… not so much… The thing is, that number on the scales represents the total sum in kilograms of all your body parts. Or in other words, Weight = Muscle + Fat + Water Mass + Everything Else in there…
The problem is, sometimes a drop of weight is caused or achieved though Crash Dieting and improper dieting, this is not a good thing for most.
My reasoning for this is that by losing muscle mass, and by losing cellular hydration, your bodies potential to perform is decreased. This means fitness, strength, athletic ability, and immunity all decrease and it can even cause you to age prematurely. But perhaps even more importantly, if you lose weight the wrong way, you also run the risk of not being able to keep the weight off in the long-term as your bodies need for energy decreases and you go back to your normal eating habits.
Now let’s look at fat loss…
Fat Loss is a reduction in the amount of fat you carry in your body. So, if you go from 30% body fat down to 20% you’ve lost 10% fat in your body. Yes, I agree, now that would be a great time to celebrate!
Now before we go any further, it’s important we clarify the goal. The goal with fat loss is to maximise the fat lost whilst maintaining cellular hydration levels and maintaining muscle mass. Can you see the difference now between weight loss and fat loss?
Essentially, the big take home message here is that you achieve this goal by doing two things: (1) Correct Nutrition, and (2) Training. If you get these two focus points right, the long-term payoff should be improved fitness, peak performance, greater strength, delayed aging and reduced risk of disease. I think you would agree that this sounds pretty good!
Weight loss Vs Fat Loss – Am I Making Mistakes..?
I do a lot of cardio but it’s not working?
In my experience, for fat loss, traditional cardio is not a great approach. It doesn’t burn enough calories and the more cardio you do, the better your body becomes at it. Eventually, you actually end up burning less calories than before with the same amount of work.
The FCF Solution: Try Interval or HIIT Training instead. What you need to remember here is these training methodologies burn more calories in the same amount of time. They also stimulate more fat loss and create a huge metabolic effect known as an afterburning effect that can increase your fat burning potential for hours after your workout.
Should I be having cheat days?
Cheating is fine, but I like to call them ‘treat meals’ and you still need to treat yourself correctly. During a calorie deficit, your leptin levels drop and these then need to be restored.
Leptin is a hormone that controls weight loss and defends against starvation, so it is crucial that we manage this hormone effectively.
The FCF Solution: To restore your leptin levels and get your body working right, you need an occasional high-carb meal. The key phrase here is “high-carb”, not “high-fat”. Indulging on carb-heavy, high-fat foods will send nutrients to the fat cells and ruin your progress, so keep this in mind.
I eat a healthy diet but I probably don’t get enough protein. Is this a mistake?
If you are the type of person who skimps on protein, then you are probably slowing your fat loss down. The way our bodies work, we actually burn more calories to digest protein than any other macronutrient (carbs, protein & fat). Another benefit of having a diet high in protein is protein also keeps you feeling full for longer and it helps you maintain muscle mass while burning body fat.
The FCF Solution: Research has found that a high-protein diet also improves body composition, cholesterol markers and insulin levels more than a diet of moderate protein, even while keeping calories the same. Make sure to eat at least 1.6g/kg.bw of protein while dieting.
I do light weights but I’m not getting stronger. What am I doing wrong?
You really need to force your body to change! Give it no choice! Never shy away from heavy strength training while trying to lose fat. During calorie deficit, your body tends to lose muscle so it makes sense to give your body a reason to keep it. Also, by adding more muscle, you will be increasing your metabolic rate, which boosts the number of calories you burn throughout the day, even at rest.
The FCF Solution: The best way to prevent this is to train hard and heavy. When you work out, focus on building strength and size to combat any muscle loss by always using a maximal weight at lower reps (4-8) for strength and higher reps (12-16) when trying to add some muscle mass.
I’m too stressed! Why should I even bother…?!
Mental and physical stress restricts fat loss because it elevates cortisol levels.
Also, elevated levels of cortisol inhibit testosterone and growth hormone production, which diminishes muscle growth, leads to fat gain, especially around the waist and can even weaken bones.
The FCF Solution: Take time to relax and unwind from daily life with things like some light cardio, stretching, meditation, a session with a personal trainer or do some breathing exercises. Also make sure to take at least one day of rest per week from any exercise to prevent overtraining, which also raises cortisol.
I don’t measure or take notice of what I eat. Is this a problem?
If you don’t track what you eat, you’re making your fat loss much more difficult. Food diaries reveal exactly what’s going into your body and what you need to change to improve things. Research has shown that there are significant associations between self-monitoring and fat loss. This is highly amplified if you find someone else to keep you accountable.
The FCF Solution: If writing in a food diary is too tedious, take pictures with your smartphone and start a photo journal. Alternatively, there are some amazing apps out there such as MyFitnessPal which you can use to simplify and streamline the recording of food intake.
I don’t drink much water! Do I even need it?
YES! Far too many people drink too little water. Even the smallest amount of dehydration decreases your fat loss potential. One good reason is that your metabolism will slow down to conserve water…
The FCF Solution: Drink lots of water to keep your body functioning optimally. The great news is, this can even help you burn more calories.
I’ve been cutting carbs. This is a good thing, right?
Dodging all carbs will hurt your physical performance and fat loss. People who strength train several times a week absolutely need carbs to provide the energy to perform your best, build muscle and recover. Skipping carbs will lead to flat workouts and missed muscle gains.
The FCF Solution: To promote fat loss, eat carbs only on your strength training days and choose clean sources like sweet potatoes, whole grains, fruits and quinoa.
- The FCF Team