The fat loss vs weight loss debate often becomes tricky, especially for the novices of the health and fitness domain. Wondering why? Because losing weight and losing fat, though linked, are not the same! It is possible to lose weight without losing fat or vice versa.

However, are you sure that you are on the right track if you decide to lose weight and have an “attractive” body? Let’s face it, if you want to lose weight, the healthiest thing to do would be to lose weight from fat. 

Weight Loss vs Fat Loss – What’s It About for You? 

Before starting a particular weight loss plan, the first question you should ask yourself is: 

Am I doing this simply to lower the number on the scale or to find myself attractive in the mirror with a nice body featuring lean muscle mass without excess fat?

In many cases, a person’s problem is not so much the weight but the figure, tone, or skin quality that results from excess weight. Remember, it is possible to have beautiful curves or a defined outline without losing weight.

But of course, if your excess weight is significant, you need to take steps to preserve your health and protect yourself from the harmful effects of being overweight and obese.

Try to identify your “Why” behind your urge to lose weight. It helps you stay objective and focused. And logically speaking, your why should follow a how, for which you need to have some solid knowledge on weight loss vs. fat loss.

What is Body Weight?

Weight is the sum total of everything that makes up your body: a mixture of skin, bones, organs, muscles, water, nerves, connective tissue, etc. It is what you read on the scale when you step on it.

Therefore, when we see the weight on the scale, it is impossible at first glance to know how the weight is distributed in the different parts that make you up.

Body composition is the ratio of the percentage of fat and lean mass in the human body.

For example, skin, bones, nerves, connective tissue, organs, and skeletal muscle are parts of the body’s fat-free mass.

However, body composition is entirely different in both men and women. A man weighing 150 pounds will have a different body composition than a woman of the same weight.

To determine your BMI (body mass index), you can consult this digital calculator created by the US Government Department of Health and Human Services.

Now to the next logical question:

What is Weight Loss?

Losing weight is about losing pounds. We can voluntarily lose pounds with a diet for aesthetic or therapeutic purposes. But it can also be an unintended consequence of certain progressive organic diseases or eating disorders.

All in all, weight loss (loss of pounds) is the process of reducing total body weight, which is the sum total of muscle mass, fat, bone mass, vital organs, and water.

Therefore, weight loss’s main objective is to have a noticeable decrease in the value shown on the scale. The weight you lose can be related to muscle, water, or fat.

What is Fat Loss?

It is an action that aims almost exclusively to eliminate subcutaneous fat (the type of fat found under your skin in different areas of your body). But some weight-loss programs may also take visceral fat into account.

Fat loss occurs by reducing calories ingested during the day, either by eating fewer calories than usual, exercising, or combining both. The idea is to create a caloric deficit so that the body takes energy from the body’s stored fat reserves.

For example, if your body needs an average of 2,000 calories to function throughout the day, you can reduce your food intake to 1,500 calories.

The result is barely noticeable on the scale. The goal is to tone the skin, and make it firmer, smoother and more beautiful. 

Basically, it is about thinning the fat cells, the adipocytes (cells that specialize in fat storage, found in connective tissues), reducing the lipid reserve.

So, losing weight is the process of reducing body fat, which is the total amount of fat that the body retains.

Losing Weight Doesn’t Mean You’re Losing Fat

Many people have this misconception, which compels them to consider weight loss vs fat loss as the same thing – but wrongfully, of course!

Many can indeed “lose weight” easily and believe they are losing fat when they are not.

They may be losing water weight (water weight vs fat loss) or muscle because they have manipulated their body water or carbohydrate intake in their diet. 

For example, you may know someone who has lost about 10 pounds in less than a month, which is kind of amazing, but if we dig deeper, we’ll see:

  • They might have increased your water intake
  • They might have eliminated processed carbohydrate foods
  • They might have started exercising regularly

When you modify your habits in such a way, it is possible to lose weight rapidly because water and glycogen are lost. The more water you drink, the more you will urinate. If you reduce your carbohydrate intake excessively, you will begin to lose glycogen from your muscles.

Also, if you reduce your sodium intake, you will lose fluid weight (losing water weight) because excess sodium in the body usually causes fluid retention.

Why Fat Loss Almost Always Means Weight Loss?

This is mainly due to 2 functions in the body called catabolism and anabolism.

Catabolism means that you must put yourself in a catabolic state to burn fat. By eating fewer calories, the body will take energy from your fat to meet maintenance caloric expenditure.

However, you should follow these fundamental principles:

  • Maintain a moderate caloric deficit
  • Do regular resistance training (2-4 days per week)
  • Get enough sleep (8-9 hours per night)
  • Let the body rest so that it can recover adequately (you have to take days off)
  • Be consistent (the key to all progress)

If you consistently lose fat, you will lose weight, which is when fat vs weight loss becomes the same thing. But before that, you must know what is the difference between losing weight and losing fat.

What Happens When You Lose Fat But the Weight Does Not Change?

This is a phenomenon that they call body recomposition, a process where your body gains muscle while losing fat.

For instance, suppose a person weighs 150 pounds with a body fat percentage of 30{317a7769e272dec17b69bda26c6a5a4c5e6799efcd8a85f72cb552b76862c2b9}. After four months of exercising and following a diet, he still weighs 150 pounds, but his body fat percentage has dropped to 25{317a7769e272dec17b69bda26c6a5a4c5e6799efcd8a85f72cb552b76862c2b9}.

When you do the math, that’s a 10-pound fat loss and a 10-pound muscle gain.

However, people do not burn fat or build muscle at a similar rate. Each person undergoes a different process. So, don’t expect to lose fat and gain muscle at the same rate. 

Losing fat is usually much more manageable than building muscle from a physiological perspective.

How Can You Verify That You Are Losing Fat?

Now that you know the terms losing weight and losing fat, better understanding weight loss vs. fat loss, you may be wondering: how do I know if I am losing fat?

Don’t worry. It’s not that complicated. There are four ways to track fat loss:

1.     Scale Weight

This is perhaps the most obvious. But yes, when you lose fat moderately, you will also notice a reduction in the scale.

To do a weight loss review with the scale, it is recommended to take a daily weight record so that it helps you visualize if the work you are doing is effective.

2.     Tape Measurements

It is one of the best methods for tracking fat loss and establishing more precise weight vs fat loss KPIs because as you lose fat, the measurements go down.

This occurs because we tend to store most of the fat in our trunks (waist, hips, and thighs). If your measurements aren’t going down but your weight is, there’s a chance you’re not losing as much fat.

On the other hand, if the weight does not decrease, but the measurements do, you are likely losing fat and building muscle simultaneously.

3.     Clothing

Having clothes that no longer fit you because you lost weight gives you an idea of ​​how well your fat-loss diet is working.

Every few weeks, you can try on that pair of pants or that shirt you stopped wearing. If your clothes fit better or looser than they did last month, you’re clearly making progress.

But if you feel the same way instead, you may not be losing enough fat. This is an excellent way to notice results.

4.     Weight Loss vs Fat Loss Pictures

Lastly, taking photos is a proven method that can be encouraging or stressful, depending on how you look at it. What you need to do is take some pictures before you start your fat loss commitment.

Tip: Take photos of yourself in your underwear from the front, back, and both sides. Do it every two weeks, wearing the same clothes and in the same position.

Some people may be embarrassed to take photos like this. However, these types of weight loss vs fat loss pictures are pretty important. After all, when you focus on losing weight or body fat, you will not notice the changes that occur because you look in the mirror every day.

How to Lose Weight While Maintaining Muscle Mass?

It’s about time we sum up our fat loss vs weight loss debate with some solid, actionable advice, especially on losing weight without losing your muscle mass.

4 Actionable Tips on Fat Loss 

So, here you are:

1.     Strive for Calorie Deficit

One of the most effective recommendations for losing weight without losing muscle mass is to follow a diet and training that does not produce an excessive drop in calories.

If we lose too many calories a day, our body runs out of a primary energy source, such as sugar or stored fat, which is when it begins to consume its own muscle mass. 

Therefore, it is convenient to follow a diet and exercise routine that uses up the accumulated sugars and fats we ingest but does not reach the point where our body needs to spend muscle mass to function and reduces it.

According to some studies, if we want to preserve muscle volume, we must follow a regimen that reduces between 500 and 1000 calories daily. 

Therefore, if you want to show off a toned body, you must try to stay within those established limits.

2.     Don’t Lose Weight Abruptly

Another of the most common mistakes we make when we want to lose weight is to lose too many kilos in too short a period. When we lose weight abruptly, not only does the intake of calories drop excessively, but different changes in our body (especially at the hormonal level) negatively affect the body’s muscle mass.

The ideal way to lose weight without losing muscle volume is to try that our weekly weight loss is around 1{317a7769e272dec17b69bda26c6a5a4c5e6799efcd8a85f72cb552b76862c2b9}. This means that if, for example, you weigh between 75 and 80 kilos, the ideal would be for you to lose approximately 800 grams weekly.

3.     Engage in Physical Activities (Both Aerobic and Anaerobic)

Exercising is essential to lose weight and increase the muscular conditions of our body. However, knowing what type of training will be the most appropriate to achieve our goals is also essential. 

In this case, the best option will be a routine where we combine aerobic exercises with anaerobic or weight training since this burns fat and gains muscle mass. 

Here are some tips to optimize your physical activity to gain muscle mass while losing body fat. 

  • Choose the most appropriate time to train. It is advisable to exercise on an empty stomach. In addition, you will also have to perform anaerobic exercises first and then aerobics since muscle glycogen will be reduced, and therefore you will burn more fat.
  • Do your anaerobic exercise with high weight loads. The routine must be intense, so your muscles do not lose their mass; consequently, you can burn much more fat.
  • Increasing your heart rate at various times during your workout can help decrease your body’s glycogen stores, forcing you to use fat for energy. For example, if the average heart rate in your routine is 70{317a7769e272dec17b69bda26c6a5a4c5e6799efcd8a85f72cb552b76862c2b9}, you should raise it every so often by 85-90{317a7769e272dec17b69bda26c6a5a4c5e6799efcd8a85f72cb552b76862c2b9} for a couple of minutes.
Examples of Aerobic Exercises

Lower impact aerobic exercise includes:

  • Walking 
  • Cycling 
  • Swimming
  • Using an elliptical trainer
  • Rowing

Higher impact aerobic exercise includes:

Examples of Anaerobic Exercises
  • Weightlifting
  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • Circuit training
  • Pilates

4.     Dietary Tips for Losing Weight While Maintaining Muscle Mass

In addition to choosing the most suitable training to lose a few kilos without giving up your muscles, it is also vital that you take care of your diet. 

  • Eat 5 Meals a Day

Instead of eating three huge meals daily, you will have to spread the calories over five lighter meals daily. This will help improve digestion and absorption of nutrients, speeding up your metabolism.

  • Moderate the Consumption of Carbohydrates

This type of food can abruptly raise the glucose in our body and consequently prevents the elimination of fats from our body. Therefore, it is recommended that you eat complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and fruits, as they will provide you with energy throughout the day.

  • Increase Protein Intake

These types of nutrients help preserve muscle mass. In addition, they also help improve metabolism and have satiating properties. So, you will also be able to control your daily food consumption. 

  • Drink Plenty of Water

Proper hydration is essential for the appropriate functioning of the metabolism. In addition, it also helps mobilize waste that is produced during the fat-burning process.

  • Don’t Eat for Up to an Hour after Exercising

Eating food right after your workout can slow down fat burning.

Fat Loss vs Weight Loss Conclusion

Although there is a possibility of losing a small amount of muscle along with excess fat in your quest to lose fat, this can be managed with a proper diet and exercise plan. But hopefully, this detailed blog has helped you learn about weight loss vs. fat loss. 

To promote fat loss, maintain a caloric deficit while eating plenty of protein, carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables.

Set realistic and realistic goals. Track your progress over several months. Challenge yourself to improve your performance and focus on building strength. For instance, you can try these Weighted Vest Exercises to build strength. 

Stay consistent in your approach and focus on your progress. Make sure you reap the rewards of your hard work.

Remember, fitness is more of a lifestyle than a fad and a continuous journey rather than a destination. That’s why RDX Sports vows to help you move, improve, and evolve all the way! 


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