Weight Loss and Fat Loss: The Facts
If your only goal is to see the number on the scale drop, then you may not get the results you truly want. You see, there are a big weight loss and fat loss difference. What you weigh on the scale isn’t just fat… It also includes muscle mass, bone mass, water weight, etc.
Sadly, this means you can drop pounds by losing lean mass and water weight, while your fat mass stays the same, which can actually increase your body fat percentage even as you “lose weight.” This is the opposite of what you want!
On the other end of the spectrum, you can lose fat as you gain lean mass, which helps keep your metabolism stoked, making you stronger and healthier and making future fat loss easier. This is exactly what you do want! In other words, the goal is to lose fat, not just weight.
Signs that you are out of balance and are losing muscle as you focus on a weight loss vs. fat loss diet include:
- Daily activities become more difficult
- You feel tired and rundown throughout the day
- You have lower stamina and endurance
- You may find it’s more difficult to balance or you feel less coordinated
- Your workouts are harder and more difficult to finish
- Your weight loss stalls or plateaus
Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss Diet
Surprisingly, crazy crash diets (like cleanses and fasts) are still popular today. These severe weight-loss diets encourage you to drop your calories super low (often under 1,000 calories per day). And yes, some people on these types of diets do lose weight rapidly.
Unfortunately, the change on the scale is more likely due primarily to a loss of water weight combined with fat and muscle loss. The result: the body revolts, thinking it’s starving, and it does everything it can to preserve energy and hoard body fat. Meanwhile, metabolism grinds to a halt, energy levels crash, and hunger can get out of control.
Weight loss vs. fat loss diets is vastly different. To maintain lean mass, keep the metabolism healthy, avoid intense hunger that can lead to binge eating, and thus keep the weight off for the long term (rather than yoyo dieting), it’s important to ensure your body is getting enough calories and nutrients to prevent it from going into starvation mode.
To help the body lose fat rather than just weight:
- Cut back on calories but avoid dropping calories too severely. This helps support healthy metabolic hormones like leptin, ghrelin, insulin, etc. and prevents the cycles of extreme hunger and binge eating as well as a drop in energy and just not feeling well.
- Base your diet primarily on healthy whole foods (rather than “diet” drinks or bars) and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Eat protein with every meal, and ensure you consume a high protein breakfast.
- Cut back on carbs, especially refined carbs.
- Enjoy high-quality essential fats as found in fatty fish, chia seeds and flaxseeds, and olive oil.
- Balance diet and exercise to lose weight. Lift weights at least two times a week and do some type of cardio (aerobic exercise) such as walking at least five days a week—remember to continually challenge your body with more intense or longer workouts.
- Avoid sugary drinks like sodas and fruit juices.
- Stay hydrated by drinking at least 8 glasses of water per day, including a glass 30 minutes before each meal.
- Include soluble fibers, like those found in oats, peas, beans, apples, etc., in your daily diet.
- Drink coffee or tea.
- Eat slowly and mindfully.
- Ensure you are getting good quality sleep for seven to nine hours every night.
Science of Fat Loss
The science of fat loss can be complicated and nuanced. It considers the basal metabolic rate, exercise routine, lifestyle and habits, diet, and non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). It also looks at metabolic hormones, a healthy gut, mindset and motivation, and so much more.
Fortunately, weight loss and fat loss difference don’t need to get deep into the science of fat loss. Rather, it’s about building up healthy habits, such as eating delicious whole foods vs. premade, refined junk food. It’s about finding ways to incorporate exercise into your day. Can’t take 30 minutes to an hour out of your day? Sneak in “exercise snacks” throughout the day of just one to ten minutes every hour or so for impressive health and performance results.
The end result isn’t just the weight loss and fat loss difference. It’s improved blood panels, better blood sugar and insulin management, increased energy levels, decreased fat weight, and decreased clothing size, so you not only look better, but you feel amazing!