Weight loss vs fat loss, I thought they meant the same thing…you’re telling me they’re different?
Yes. They are different and here’s how.
Weight loss, as understood by most people, is the process of getting skinnier or smaller. It is seeing the number on the scale go down to where they think their bodies should be to look the way they want to look. We’ll circle back to this and why most professionals will tell you that they haven’t used a scale in years.
Fat loss is essentially the focus on your body composition. Body composition refers to your ratio of lean body mass (muscle, bone, connective tissue etc.) to your fat mass (everyone has fat mass all over their body). So really fat loss is what you should think of when you talk about muscular definition, percent body fat (especially the lower ones), and 6-packs.
So They’re Not the Same, What Now?
Understanding the fundamental difference of weight loss vs fat loss can help you understand what and why you need to do to achieve your goals.
Studies have shown that when compared, groups that performed aerobic exercise under a calorie restricted diet lost both lean body mass and fat mass when compared to groups that underwent resistance training under a calorie restricted diet (Willis et al., 2012). So the main difference between the two lies in targeting which types of tissue the body will resort to for energy (or not resort to) when training.
Everyone knows that weight loss and fat loss are complicated, that’s why many fitness professionals exist really. So to help you understand it from a more fundamental standpoint, here are a few of the principles of both weight loss and fat loss:
Principles of Weight Loss:
- Caloric Deficit. Again this is extremely complicated, but basically energy balances don’t lie. If you use more than you input, it has to come from somewhere (i.e. your body’s fat, protein a.k.a. muscles, or glycogen stores a.k.a. carbs mostly).
- Aerobic fitness. Aerobic fitness refers to exercises where oxygen is required to help meet your body’s energy demands. It is things like running, biking, swimming, elliptical, rower (basically anything with “cardio” attached to it). To get smaller and not focus on what types of mass your body will use for energy (fat, protein, glycogen), aerobic fitness is the king.
- Consistency and dedication. You must understand the process. Losing weight takes time and it requires insane amounts of discipline. You must be consistent and rely on support (trainers, buddies, groups).