Fat Loss vs Weight Loss – AFL 1.1
In this video, we look into the difference between fat loss and weight loss. More specifically if the program you are following is getting rid of your unwanted fat and how fat loss can help improve your body composition.
Defining Fat Loss v. Weight Loss
In order to understand the differences between fat loss and weight loss, we need to first define weight and body composition.
Weight in its simplest form is a physical property that depends on your mass and the force of gravity; if this rings any bells from high school physics, then you may be able to recall the formula F = m*g (Force = mass*gravity).
Now I want to introduce body composition, Body composition can be thought of as an in-depth look at the composition of your body. More specifically, we are looking deeper into your actual weight, what does that number mean and what numbers make up your weight.
In simple terms, your body is composed of fat mass and lean mass. Your fat mass is the portion of your body that is fat whereas your lean mass would be everything that isn’t fat (i.e. muscle, organs, bone, etc.).
Delving deeper into weight as an entity. As I stated earlier, weight is just a physical property that only tells you m*g and because gravity is relative, by extension, so too is your weight. For example, if you weigh 150lbs on Earth then you would weigh 380lbs on Jupiter or 57 lbs on Mars (in the video I guesstimated 400lbs and 80lbs for both of those planets – close enough). Changing planets doesn’t make you magically “fatter” or “skinnier” because body weight is relative, neat right?
Your weight doesn’t tell you anything about the composition of your body and as a result, bodybuilders and individuals who are overweight can weigh the exact same.
Take this image for example.
The two individuals here are of equal weight and BMI, however, their body compositions are, most definitely, not equal. The body builder has a much smaller percentage of body fat relative to his husky counterpart and he has a lot more muscle mass too. Since their body compositions are starkly different you can visibly see a huge contrast in their physiques as well, without having to know their respective body fat percentage.
So we can come to the conclusion that without delving deeper into what your weight actually means you end up not truly knowing where you were, currently are, or where you are going; ultimately selling yourself short when it comes to tracking progress. The image itself should be proof enough that your weight could stay the exact same indefinitely, but if you make the right changes in your nutrition and workout programs your body composition could remarkably change for the better.
This reason alone is one of the biggest reasons I keep harping on, and on, about the importance of body composition.
Moving away from logical statements/arguments about body composition, I want to share a story of a client that I worked with.
At the time this story becomes relevant we had been training for about 4 months at the time. He initially came to me in hopes of improving his health and nutrition in order to keep up with his two active daughters. In the past, he had played baseball competitively, however, after graduating college his work schedule got in the way of his activity and since he was no longer part of an athletic community/network he slowly slipped into a lifestyle that eventually led to him feeling as if he had ‘let himself go’.
Throughout our time training, he busted his ass and worked hard to reel in his nutrition, ultimately using the right ingredients to promote success – in respect to his goals. At four months he was looking leaner – it particularly showed in his face, he was able to push himself much harder than when we first started, he had more energy and felt better about his health.
While I could go on about his health and the qualitative improvements to his life, the elephant in the room was his quantitative measurements – more specifically, his weight.
In that four month period, he had only managed to lose a net of 2lbs. Given how hard he worked, the lifestyle changes he had undergone, and everything else this loss of 2lbs. on the surface looks extremely disheartening. Justifiably so, he was disappointed in the net loss of 2lbs.
However, since we had been testing his body composition since day 1, we, in fact, knew what changes were going on beneath the surface.
In fourth months, he had managed to lose 19lbs of fat and gain 17lbs of muscle; by any regards that is a phenomenal achievement.
Now as I said, he was disappointed with losing 2lbs; and if we had only measured his weight then, quantitatively, I would have failed him as a trainer and his hard work would have been paired with only qualitative success. However, since we were able to regularly test his body composition we knew his hard work was not in vain and, in fact, he was able to accomplish something many people dream of – losing fat and gaining muscle.
Ultimately, my hope is that this story will prompt you to think twice about the relevance of weight as a stand alone quantitative measurement for tracking your progress.
Benefits of Fat Loss
Bridging back to fat loss, I want to finally emphasize why fat loss should be your primary focus if you want to “lose weight” or improve your muscular definition/tone.
If you happen to only focus on losing weight then, by definition, you aren’t aware if you are losing fat or losing muscle. Ideally, you would primarily be losing fat, however, without testing your body composition do you really know?
Additionally, if you are losing weight and happen to also lose a large amount of muscle, wouldn’t that be kind of a bummer? You worked hard for your muscle. Why should you have to sacrifice it in order to ‘lose weight’?
When you focus on lowering your body fat you are also conversely focusing on retaining your muscle mass. This means you won’t lose your “gains” and you will retain your strength.
So what does fat loss mean for your physique?
- You retain your hard earned muscle
- You decrease your body fat percentage
- You improve your body composition
Decreasing your body fat means that you will have less fat visibly blurring your muscle. Less fat covering your muscle means that your muscle will be more visible and you will look more toned/ripped.
NOTE: Being Toned by definition is having less fat over your muscles, meaning your muscles look more defined.
Finally, being ripped, toned and improving your body composition are all variations of the same thing. So if your goal is to have visible muscular definition, then decreasing your body fat is your answer. As such, focusing your attention on fat loss rather than weight loss is the most effective way to reach said goal.
To wrap this post up… Weight is relative, as such it’s only as effective as your approach to testing it. If you don’t know your body composition then how do you quantitatively know if you are losing fat, gaining muscle or making progress towards your goals?
The story about my client’s amazing success with fat loss and muscle gain only became remarkable as a direct result of body composition testing, you could also be having similar success with your goals and not even know it if you never test your body composition.
Finally, by focusing on decreasing your body fat you are also making a direct commitment to improve your body composition; meaning your results will get you more toned/ripped without sacrificing your hard earned muscle.
Today’s freebie is the EVA Caloric Intake Calculator; this calculator was specifically created to help you with your fat loss goals. This free calculator will calculate the caloric and macronutrient intakes you need to reach your fat loss goal and how long it will realistically take you to get there.
Finally, I want to thank you for taking the time to go through the post. I wish you the best of luck with your fat loss endeavor, just make sure you regularly track your body composition 😉 – more on body composition testing in the next AFL video.