I'd like to lead in with a couple questions. First, let's say you're 5'5". You could be 160 pounds and a size 6, or 150 pounds and a size 12. Given a choice between the two, which would you choose? An obvious question, but which do you the is healthier?
This article will dive into the heart of the difference between weight loss vs fat loss, and why it's important for you to know - so read hard.
First and foremost - stop jumping on the damn scale every day. Or every other day. Or every week, for that matter.
Scales can't distinguish between weight and fat loss. Not even the fancy scales that measure fat percentage. The degree of error with those types of scales is always very high.
You're more than a number. You're a combination of flesh, bone, muscle, genetics, nutrients you get from the food you choose to eat and the circumstances in which you live.
You can't fairly compare your body to your sister's, your mom's, your neighbor's, the person who works out next to you, runs past you, eats next to you...or even me. Nope, you can't. You're a bundle of cells. It's how you feed those cells, move your body and manage stress that greatly impacts weight loss and gain, as well as fat loss and gain.
Weight Loss vs Fat Loss: What's the Difference?
The weight of our body is made up of a few different things:
- Bone: Your skeleton is about 12- 15% of your total body weight.
- Muscle & Tissue: Your muscle and other tissues (including skin) make up somewhere between 30 - 45% of your total body weight.
- Fat: The amount of fat in your body is typically somewhere between 15 - 40+%.
These numbers are averages, with women weighing a little bit less in the bone and muscle department, while weighing a little more in the fat department. Men are the opposite.
Water is in all parts of our body, including our bones, tissue and fat.
These combined components are also known as your body composition.
A lot of things can lead to weight loss or weight gain.
Heavier vs Lighter Bone Weight
I think we can all agree that no one wants lighter, weaker or brittle bones, right? They're prone to break and are linked to conditions like osteoporosis. Heavier, more dense bones are stronger and less likely to break. They support our body weight better and can take more impact.
Exercise and nutrient dense foods affect bone health and strength. The more you exercise and the more weight-bearing exercises you do, the heavier and stronger your bones will be.
Bones are not fat. Having a couple extra pounds on your body due to stronger bones will not have a sliver of impact on belly fat, the circumference of your waistline or where you carry body fat.
A quick aside on bone health. Osteoporosis is extremely common, especially in women over 50. We begin to lack minerals, like calcium which can make our bones more brittle.
Supplementing with calcium alone won't do the trick because calcium is preferential to soft tissue, like the arteries of your heart.
Read that last line again.
Calcium would rather go to your arteries than your bones, UNLESS it has the combination of vitamin D3 and K2 available. You should supplement with all 3, or at least D3 and K2 for bone health. You'll find my recommendations for D3/K2 here.
Men and women vary quite a bit in the muscle department. Men typically carry and build muscle more than women. Women can absolutely carry and build plenty of muscle, but not in exactly the same way as men.
Men and women both have the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen in their body. Men usually have more testosterone to estrogen and women have more estrogen to testosterone. Testosterone helps to grow and develop muscle, and repair bone mass, so it's important that both sexes maintain a balance - with men producing greater amounts.
Muscle is much more dense than fat and takes up a lot less space.
A person with 40% muscle mass will have a leaner and tighter body that someone with 30% muscle. The person with 40% muscle mass may weigh more, but in comparison to someone of the same weight, they'll look much leaner.
That said, diet and activity play an important role in how much muscle a person carries.
- A diet that contains less protein and more refined carbs = less muscle
- A diet that contains enough protein and more vegetables and healthy fat = more muscle
- A person who doesn't move much all day = less muscle
- A person who purposefully exercises or works out (any exercise works) = more muscle
Muscle is good. You should hope to have quite a bit of it on your body. Muscle impacts:
- Mobility: Not just moving, but how you move. Bending, reaching, stretching are all things that are done easier with muscle.
- Circulation: When we have a decent amount of muscle on our body, blood and fluid circulates better throughout our body. And don't forget, your heart is one of the hardest-working muscles in your body that gets stronger with activity - and is 100% responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood.
- Metabolism: If you're interested in weight loss through fat loss, then more muscle is what you want. Muscle jacks up the metabolic rate, burning calories much faster than a body that has more fat!
To all women who are concerned about "getting too bulky" through strength training. Don't worry! Women who want to have a lot of muscle mass work very hard to achieve that. It doesn't come easy or by doing a set of shoulder presses a few times. week. If you just want to stay healthy and fit, do resistance training of any type. Yoga, pilates and plyometric workouts that use no weights count, too.
Having a body with plenty of muscle helps in the weight loss and fat loss department thanks to the metabolic boost.
This is really what you want to stay on top of. Belly fat, or visceral fat, is a huge problem. Not just aesthetically, but on our health.
We've already established that muscle weighs more than fat, but fat takes up nearly three times and much space as muscle.
A few years ago, I spent quite a bit of time on the Steve Harvey set, talking about weight loss and fat loss. I was the trainer for Steve's Bridal Bootcamp with Hungry Girl, Lisa Lillien. I worked worked closely with each of them for eight weeks, following the principals of The Belly Burn Plan.
All of the women lost weight and looked absolutely smashing for the day of their wedding. But one bride-to-be, Cindy, only lost 15 pounds over the six weeks. Other women lost three times as much, so by focusing on the scale, the weight loss Cindy achieved was a little deflating in comparison to the others.
But something amazing happened with Cindy - and it was pretty obvious.
Cindy lost the most inches by a landslide. It was almost as though she traded fat in for muscle. Despite the fact that she didn't see results on the scale, she saw them in the mirror.
Cindy was and is tough. A few years ago, she was not afraid to lift weights and sweat a little. She developed power and strength. In the meantime, she fried off fat, especially through her belly, and gained muscle.
I connected with Cindy yesterday and she's still committed to strength training. Here's a great shot of her rocking her stuff when we trained together.
By the way, Cindy is a woman in her 50s who, at the time of the Bridal Bootcamp, was up against a handful of equally beautiful but much younger women.
Lose Fat But Don't Worry About Weight
If you only focused on getting rid of body fat and didn't look the scale or think about weight loss, you're ahead of the game.
There are a few reasons you could be holding onto extra body fat:
- You're eating wrong for your body type
- You aren't eating enough healthy carbohydrates
- You're eating too much
- You've had a history of dieting and your body needs to get back on track
- You followed a keto diet and are now having a rebound effect
- You're not getting enough activity / resistance training
- You're not getting enough sleep
- You have inflammation
- Your body needs to detox before it can burn fat (this is important)
- You're not handling stress properly (this affects so many of us)
- A COMBINATION OF ANY OF THESE
Usually there are a number of things going on that are holding you back from losing body fat. And throughout our lives, those variables could change again and again.
So what can you do to lose weight?
Start cleaning up your diet right away. Don't wait. I hate using the word "skinny", but it's more than possible to be skinny-fat and extremely unhealthy. At the same time it's equally possible to be solid-lean, or whatever you want to call someone who weighs much more than they look.
Muscle, not fat, is where it's at.
If you don't know how to do get a grip on your diet, here are a few resources for you:
Eat Healthy Carbs
So many people goof up their carbohydrates without knowing it. There are a lot food products out there made to sound healthy, but they're usually loaded with sugar or other additives that don't do your body any favors. Here is a free 3-day healthy carbohydrates meal plan for you to follow.
Follow The Belly Burn Plan
I've created free meal plans for each of the body types in The Belly Burn Plan. Find your meal plan and follow it: Apple Type, Pear Type, Inverted Pyramid Type and Hourglass Type. Are you thinking, What's My Body Type?
Go a step further and buy The Belly Burn Plan. You'll eliminate the foods that cause inflammation, balance hormones, detox your liver and lose weight you want without dieting.
Focus on Sleep
We all need to do this and it's sort of an obvious thing, but most of us have no idea how important sleep really is. No one can ever really get by on less than 5 or 6 hours of sleep and expect to be as lean as someone who gets closer to 8 hour. It has less to do with rest and more to do with human growth hormone (HGH).
Want to schedule an appointment with me to get your started and focused on a personalize plan? Email me at Traci @ Tracidmitchell.com. I have a little availability for phone appointments and would love to help you get started.