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Difference between losing weight and losing fat

Believe it or not, there is a difference between losing weight and losing fat. The words are thrown around quite often, however, the difference exists. You might never know, but misconceptions between the two, might be the only thing keeping you away from your body goals.

That’s how grave the situation can be. If you lose fat then of course you lose weight. Right? Yes, however, a lot of different factors need to be considered in regards to the difference between losing weight and losing fat.


Weight Loss

Treadmill-Sprints

The medical definition of weight loss, as defined by MedicineNet is “… is a decrease in body weight resulting from either voluntary (diet, exercise) or involuntary (illness) circumstances. Most instances of weight loss arise due to the loss of body fat…”

Note the part that mentions how weight loss is mostly derived from the loss of fat. That is, in fact, true. If you continue to lose body fat, then you can expect to see some change in your body.

However, it is important to remember the unreliableness of weight loss when it comes to judging your progress. Basing a person’s health on their weight is common.  After all, that’s where the idea of BMI comes from. By judging a person’s height, weight, gender, etc. you can get an idea of their health. This is something intuitive for humans, even though weight isn’t really ‘the’ deciding factor involved of a person’s health.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

This is a mathematical formula that’s supposed to help you measure the level of your obesity. It does this based on the information that you are able to provide, and has actually proven to have some accuracy in doing so.

It’s an easy way of being able to gauge your own level of fitness, but it does have it’s own downsides. Many researchers have questioned the level of its accuracy, considering that it cannot possibly distinguish the weight that one has from muscle and the weight one has from fat.

Muscles

Muscle has been said to be heavier than fat, which is false. They’re the exact same weight. Which means that losing five pounds of fat and gaining five pounds of muscle would not result in any significant weight loss.

This is bad news for all the people who are exercising properly and checking their weight on the scale several times a week. Because, for as long as they keep building muscle, their weight will fluctuate – making it seem like you have not actually lost any weight.

The real tell is in the way that you look – although even this can be subtle, depending on how toned you were able to get and how much excess skin you were able to burn off. Muscle is a lot denser than fat, so whilst you might weigh exactly the same or similar to when you had started, you should be able to slowly start noticing changes in your body.

In exact math, muscle density has been said to be about 1.06 grams per milliliter, whilst fat density is around 0.9 grams per milliliter. Because of this, muscle takes up a lot less space. This compact and dense form rivals that of the fluffy form of fat.

There is an obvious difference between losing weight and losing fat. Because you can lose fat and not lose weight at the same time. In fact, if you consider the weight of bodybuilders which are probably high up in the BMI range and the fact that their bodies are probably lower in fat. Well, the difference speaks for itself.

Losing Fat

Fat-Loss

If you really want to know whether or not what you’re doing is effective, then the best way of doing so would be through checking how much your body fat percentage lowers over time. This, is a more straightforward approach.

Checking your body fat percentage would mean not having to differentiate between muscles and fats, not having to consider the fluctuations caused by water retention, etc. It’s a sure fire way of being able to tell whether your weight level is healthy or not.

Oxygenmag has stated that the optimal body fat percentage is…

  • Top athletes: 15 to 20%
  • Fit women: 21 to 24%
  • Healthy/acceptable: 25 to 32%
  • Overweight: 33% plus

As you can see, some of it will depend on the what you are striving for- as well as what kind of body you have. For the most part, if you’re just looking for a healthier body, it’s best to strive for anything below 32%. It needn’t be at the level that pro athletes have – unless that is your goal.

Caliper

A popular way of measuring your body fat is through the use of the caliper method. This is something you’re going to have to learn to do for yourself, but it involves the pinching of the folds of you skin and measuring it to come up with numbers that will be inputted in a formula that should be able to help you measure your body fat.

Most people prefer to have a professional do it. Partly because it can be a bit troublesome to do on your own, but it’s always best to get an outside perspective when it comes to visual data- as body image is easily distorted for some people.

Much like losing weight, this is not something that you should obsess over. Numbers are numbers and one cannot expect changes to happen immediately. In fact, it might make you feel better to have a schedule that actually gives your body time to change. Rather than every other day, try every other week. After a while, you should be able to notice changes between your scheduled checks.


Difference between losing weight and losing fat conclusion

The difference between losing weight and losing fat is one that most people seem to avoid exploring. However, knowing the difference between the two should be able to help you further your goals. Try to get to know the difference between losing weight and losing fat as early on as you can, because the sooner that you can tell the difference, the better.

Resources:

  1. MedicineNet https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=53393
  2. Sarah Tuff Dunn May, 21 2013 The Fit Woman’s Guide to Body Fat https://www.oxygenmag.com/fat-loss/the-fit-womans-guide-to-body-fat-9235

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