Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss: What’s the Difference?
Do you really want to lose weight?
You should be focused on Fat Loss instead!
Even though the terms weight loss and fat loss are often used interchangeably, there’s a huge difference between the two. Your body and overall body weight are made up of a few different things—muscle, water, bones and adipose tissue—also known as fat.
You don’t want to lose all of that, do you…?
Didn’t think so! You don’t want to lose your all your bone structure, muscles, organs, and water. What you really want is to burn fat and get leaner.
Why the Scale Doesn’t Tell the Whole Truth
Let’s start by saying that the weigh scale won’t give you a complete picture of your body. If you step on the scale and read a large number, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything bad. Have you ever seen a bodybuilder or a fitness model? Some weigh as much as 200 pounds and yet, look super shredded. It’s not unusual for female athletes to weigh 170 or 180 pounds despite their lean physiques. So why the large numbers of these people are healthy?
That’s because the scale says nothing about your fitness level or body composition.
How much you weight, and what the numbers on the scale say, is only a piece of the puzzle. Bodybuilders and fitness models weigh so much but look so lean because they are mostly comprised of muscle. Muscle mass is denser than fat, so it takes far less space in the body, but it makes the numbers on the scale go up. In comparison, fat mass isn’t as dense, so you can definitely tell when someone starts putting on the weight of fat.
This explains why an athletic person will look ripped despite having a high Body Mass Index (BMI). The Body Mass Index takes a measurement of body fat based on weight and height. But what it doesn’t do, is take into account just how much muscle, fat, water and bone density is in the body. While two people can have the same BMI, one person’s fat density may be much higher, while the other’s weight comes from a higher muscle composition. By that same token, a slim person can have higher body fat levels than a heavy one. It all comes down to body composition aka the muscle-to-fat ratio.
In general, your total body weight consists of the following:
- Bones – 15 percent
- Water – 10 to 25 percent
- Fat – 10 to 30 percent or more
- Muscle – 30 to 55 percent or more
As you can see, muscle makes up a large percentage of your overall body weight. But if you don’t work to keep the muscle up and you let fat run the show, you won’t be getting any smaller or healthier. That’s why you need to get lean by losing fat, not just “weight”.
So seriously, don’t rely on the scale too much, especially if you’re in the process of training and getting healthy. That’s because when you start training, you’re building muscle and losing fat. Initially, the numbers remain the same or go up, but that’s because the density of the muscle is beginning to build, and the fat is only just beginning to burn.
Why Crash Diets Won’t Work
Let’s scale it back a bit and talk about why dieting, especially crash dieting isn’t the way to get to fat loss. When you’re on a crash diet (an extremely low-calorie diet) the main focus is losing weight fast, but not necessarily effectively nor for the long term. Take a look at the most popular crash diet—the Master Cleanse. This diet and variations of this diet require you to drink just water, cayenne pepper and lemon for a week.
That’s right. Nothing but liquids for a week. And it’s not just drinking a glass or two. You’re actually consuming large quantities of liquid in order to “cleanse” your body and flush things out.
But the only thing you’re flushing out is water, not fat! The extra fluid in your body will push your bladder to release fluids and naturally, your body won’t be retaining as many fluids. This will remove some of the weight in your body that’s attributed to water. But once you stop the crash diet and return to normal eating, you’ll be gaining the pounds back and you may even gain more fat.
How to Effectively Lose Fat
So what’s the best way to go about losing fat?
The best way to make sure you’re losing fat not muscle is to eat a balanced diet and train hard. If you’ve heard that cardio is the way to lose fat, it’s not entirely true. While cardio is a part of training hard, keeping a steady state cardio burns both muscle and fat—kind of the opposite effect of what you want if you’re getting leaner. That’s why cardio needs to be met with strength training, if not extra strength training.
Strength training builds muscle and torches fat while raising your metabolic rate. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the easiest way to strength train while keeping your heart rate up. It also helps preserve muscle and increases fat breakdown.
With HIIT, you’ll be pushing your body in short spurts of activity, making your heart rate spike up for a brief period of time, then resting, and then repeating. Most HIIT programs last only 10 minutes and are recommended only two to three times a week for optimal results, alongside other less strenuous activities. But you need to make sure you’re going hard with HIIT to reap the benefits.
Training and High Protein Diets
Weight lifting and HIIT combined with a high-protein diet can transform your body. Not only will you be giving your body the nutrition it needs to build muscle and burn fat, but you’ll also be toning your body. Protein is also a great way to help you feel fuller, longer! By having high-protein foods in your diet, you’ll be driving clear of an increased appetite as you begin to train.
Now that you know the difference between weight loss and fat loss, tweak your eating habits accordingly. Go heavy in the gym, eat smart, and avoid crash diets at all costs!
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