Do You Know the Difference between “Weight Loss” and “Fat Loss?”

Posted on Posted in Fat Loss

body fat


How many times have you said or thought “I want to lose some weight”?


What is weight?

Perhaps you want to lose 20 pounds.  Well, if I could be a magic genie and offer to take 20 pounds off your body, I’m sure you’d let me. However, what if I took away 15 pounds of lean tissue and only 5 pounds of fat? Depending on your frame and overall size, you may not look any different. Perhaps, you may even look like your body is a higher percentage of fat. The scale would read 20 pounds less, but you would not be happy when you looked in the mirror.

When people say they want to lose weight, very often what they mean is they want to lose fat. They want to look leaner. Weight includes bone, muscle, internal organs, water, and fat. You don’t want to lose weight from bone, muscle, water, or especially your internal organs, do you?


“Fat:”  Ouch.

Recently I joined a professional organization in my community. Most of the members are outside the health industry. During my second meeting, each of us crafted elevator pitch and read it aloud. I received positive feedback on my script, except for the part where I said I am a “fat-loss” expert. Several women said this is a harsh term. They said I might want to use “weight loss” expert.

It is indeed a harsh term. The word “fat” can sting for anyone who has been fat or anyone who has a fear of becoming fat. Regardless of the sensitivity, I am compelled to distinguish the difference between the two for these reasons:

  1. to differentiate between what you want removed from your body
  2. to highlight how you need to approach weight-loss and fat-loss differently


If fat-loss and weight-loss are different, do you have to do something different?


You can accomplish weight loss by creating a caloric deficit and doing any combination of exercises including steady-state cardio. Steady-state cardio includes any activity that keeps you in the aerobic zone (for example, 30 minutes of running, stairclimbing, or elliptical-ing at a steady aerobic pace).

Steady-state cardio is NOT great for fat-loss. I’ll be talking about my multi-year plateau while distance running in my next post. Consistent and frequent steady-state cardio will cause you to lose at least a little bit of weight from your muscle. Muscle loss = slower metabolism. This leads to a plateau.


How can you lose fat, without compromising muscle?

While my blog will eventually be filled with an abundance of information on this topic, the simple answer is this:

  1. Eat clean about 90% of the time. Diet trumps exercise.
  2. Do strength training. At minimum, do two 30-minute sessions weekly.
  3. Do minimal steady state cardio. Many weeks, I don’t do any at all.
  4. Do interval work.

There are other things you can do as well. I have ten “best practices” of fat-loss that I will highlight in the future, specifically in regard to nutrition for fat-loss.

If you are pretty happy with your body composition, you can do a little steady-state cardio, include regular strength training twice a week, and eat clean most of the time to maintain.



Next Post: How I Busted Through a 4-year Plateau

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Thank you for reading.

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