Weight Loss vs Fat Loss - Habit 52 x Air Gymwear
An Important Distinction Between WEIGHT Loss and FAT Loss
Weight loss literally just involves the number on the scale changing and is non-specific metric to live by. On the other hand, there is fat loss, a very specific form of change and generally the one people desire to achieve.
Often people get confused, they think if they are losing weight then by default they are losing fat. Likewise, if people aren’t losing weight they believe they aren’t losing fat. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple.
The problem with this is that these two ideas, weight loss and fat loss, aren’t positively correlated. Here some examples of how weight and fat loss can change together.
1. Weight can decrease and fat % can decrease (this is what people believe to be the only answer)
2. Weight can increase and fat % can increase (also, what people believe to the correlation)
3. Weight can remain unchanged or increase and fat % can decrease (this we’ll discuss further down)
4. Weight can decrease and fat % can remain the same or even increase.
Let’s first take the first two points, the ones everyone commonly get mistaken about, and show how weight can be a very poor measure. Imagine we have 4 men; Man A, B, C and D.
Man A is skinny and lean, 150lbs and 10% body fat. The average guy, who does light exercise every week.
Man B is muscular and ripped, 200lbs and 10% body fat. Above average guy, who spends a lot of time lifting weights.
Man C is ‘skinny fat”, 150lbs and 20% body fat. Average guy, who doesn’t exercise and just drinks a bit too much.
Man D is muscular overweight, 200lbs and 20% body fat. Above average guy, who eats in excess and also lifts weights.
These examples hopefully show that just because someone is heavier - Man A compared to Man B - doesn’t mean they are fatter.
Further, someone could be fatter and weigh less Man B to Man C.
Lastly, just because you weigh less doesn’t mean you have less fat as shown with Man C to Man D.
Individual difference are dismissed when comparing weight – “my friend is taller and weighs less than me” – guess what, you’re different people, with different genes and histories. You may have different bone density, different development of muscle tissue, difference in water retention, different hormonal influences, different bowl movements in relation to weigh-in time… the factors continue.
People put too much emphasis on the numbers on the scale to change, especially when dealing with the “stubborn” fat. You can lose weight very quickly by cutting carbs out of your diet but the weight that is lost is water from your cells. The amount of fat you hold remains the same.
Often times trainers and coaches will suggest to people to cut out carbs because it makes the coach look good because they can get fast weight loss results whilst the client doesn’t get the real results they are looking for - specific fat loss not (water) weight loss.
The majority of the time, people aren’t bothered by the numbers on the scale but what they see in the mirror. The numbers can be a good way for people to track, however if people don’t see change in the numbers they assume they aren’t making progress.
Your body fat may be reducing, but it does so slowly… whilst this is happening you can be building lean muscle tissue meaning your weight will not change but your physique will!
This is just the tip of the iceberg of why tracking weight can be a big problem. Unless you need to reduce weight for a sporting event or you’re seriously overweight or obese and are aiming to reduce your weight to be a healthy bmi, the numbers are ultimately inconsequential.
There are more important and valuable parameters to track and for measuring fat loss, for example, progress pictures. If you care about the visual element, then track the visual progress. More specifically, regular body measurement tracking; waist, chest, thighs, arms, etc. can give you precise information to compare with. Furthermore, actually measuring fat percentage can be useful, as long as you use a reliable and accurate method.
As we’ve seen weight loss, being non-specific can be poor measure of progress. Weight lost could be fat but weight loss could also be water, muscle, other body tissue or simply the result of emptying your digestive system.
This is why it’s important to be careful when striving to achieve weight loss, because the fat loss will only happen so fast, the rest of the weight being lost will be other body tissue (and generally stuff you don’t want to lose).
Fat loss is a slow and steady journey, don’t beat yourself up when you see 30day weight loss transformations that you aren’t achieving because most often, the weight lost is quickly found after those photos.
Rushing fat loss is only achieved by jeopardising other areas of health. It can be done with extreme calorie deficits but that’s dangerous. It can be done with excessive amounts of exercise but that’s dangerous. It can be done with illegal drugs but that’s dangerous.
A healthy lifestyle results in a healthy you. It’s not something to be forced. Be patient with your body and progress, stay consistent and stop caring so much about the numbers on the scales.
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