The difference between weight loss and fat loss

Many of my nutrition and training clients came to me wanting to ‘lose weight’ when in fact they don't want to 'lose weight'. 

You see, weight loss and fat loss are not the same thing.

Fat loss versus weight loss

Let me give you an example. You jump on the scale after a couple of weeks of following a diet and you’re excited to see you have lost 1kg. But what could that 1kg loss really represent?

Let’s say you’ve been on a very strict 1200 calorie a day diet and you’ve been doing a lot of cardio, you’ve cut out a lot of carbohydrates, your diet is low in fat and you aren’t eating a lot of protein, (none of this is ideal), but here is what your 'weight loss' could be.

  1. You’ve lost 500 grams of lean muscle
  2. You’ve lost 400 grams of water (you’re not eating many carbs and they are stored in the body with water)
  3. You’ve lost only 100 grams of body fat - oh dear!

You do NOT want to lose muscle

This is not the result you want, ideally in any program you want to retain as much lean muscle as possible or gain more (with proper nutrition and correct training).

Gaining lean muscle is what is going to reshape your body and give you that 'toned' look and of course you want to lose body fat that is those wobbly, jiggly bits and the cellulite.

Scales don't tell you the truth and they mess with your head!

The scale can be misleading if that's the only way you measure your progress because the scale doesn’t tell you the difference between fat weight and muscle weight.

As an example, a woman could weigh 110 pounds or 50kg but if she is 33 per cent body fat with low muscle she is ‘skinny fat’. With her we would aim to reduce her body fat levels with nutrition and increase her lean muscle with weight training and nutrition.

Another example, a well-trained fitness model competitor could weigh 150 pounds (68 kg) and be very lean, with 16 per cent body fat. She would have visible six pack abs and the rest of her body would show a lot of muscle as she has no body fat covering it. This sort of person is what you call “solid muscle.”

You don't want to lose weight you want to change your body composition

Have a look at the image below. You can see that even though she weighs the same in both photos, she looks dramatically different. That is because she has increased her muscle which has given her body that lovely, toned shape and reduced her body fat levels.


Body recomposition rather than weight loss

So, when you look in the mirror and decide it’s time to ‘lose weight’ remember that what matters most is your ratio of muscle to fat or what us body building trainers call your body composition.

Your main focus if you are wanting to change your body should not be to 'lose weight' but change your body composition – that is use nutrition and training to reduce your body fat levels and increase your lean muscle.  

As long as your body is mostly muscle, then you don't need to worry about your 'weight' or what the scales say. Throw them out!

Gaining weight can be a good thing

In the image below this person actually gained weight but looks very different because she changed her body composition. She increased her muscle and reduced her body fat levels!!!! She didn't aim to 'lose weight', she actually gained weight!


In this part of the blog called LEAN I’m going to draw on my experience competing in bodybuilding as well as training many girls for competitions in the categories of bikini and fitness model to help you understand more about nutrition, training and how to get real results without starving, cutting calories, doing cardio, slowing down your metabolism, unbalancing your hormones or living your life on that awful dieting roller coaster. 


There’s a difference between rapid weight loss which can be muscle or water and permanent fat loss (which retains the muscle but gets rid of the body fat).

Stay tuned for more and eat fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and nuts and seeds. We'll even deliver them to you!

Thanks for reading. 


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