Weight loss vs fat loss: What’s the difference?

  • Abhinav Verma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 01, 2016 17:53 IST
Your fat percentage is true measurement of how fit you are. (Istock)

Ever wondered why achieving your fitness goals is a never-ending struggle? Well, there could be various reasons, the most imperative being lack of clarity. Most people tend to workout with the purpose of fat loss, but end up losing weight instead. Sure, they are in better shape, but not necessarily fit. So, with the help of experts, here’s helping you understand the difference between fat loss and weight loss, and how to go about it to achieve the desired results.

Weight loss
Your body weight can be defined as the sum of the weight of your muscles, your bones, your organs and the amount of water your body retains. Weight loss is the sum loss of your total weight.

Weight loss = Muscle loss + Fat loss + Water loss

Fat loss
As the term suggests, it’s the loss of the fat that your body carries.

Fat loss = Reduction of stored body fat

Read: It’s time to deskercise | Tips for a quick workout in your office

Let’s focus on fitness
Remember when we said, losing weight doesn’t always mean you are fit. A fit body has lower levels of fat percentage, 10% to 15% for men and 15% to 20% for women. Your fat percentage is the true measurement of how fit and in which shape your body is.

Bodyweight is essentially the weight of the water your body carries. Hence, after dieting you feel you have lost weight because you lose water weight. Also, carbohydrates tend to bind with water, which leads to weight gain. Hence the reduction in carbohydrate levels leads to loss in weight. This is the main principle of many diets.

Hence, focus on losing fat!

Losing weight can backfire at times. How? For some, weight loss may also lead to a loss in muscle mass, which can cause a rebound effect that leads to weight gain. How again? Losing muscle mass during weight loss means your metabolism becomes slow, which in turn means that the weight you lose, comes back.

This, however, DOES NOT mean that you shouldn’t lose weight. If you’re overweight, some weight loss is required to restructure your body, but at the same time, also focus on fat loss. The ideal way to achieve this is engaging in a combination of weight training and cardio exercises.

Unlike weight loss, strength training is important if your goal is fat loss. (Istock)

Strength training is essential because it helps you to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. Doing only cardio will cause muscle loss and can lead to you having skinny fat.

This chart, however, isn’t applicable for those who are overweight because before aiming at fat loss, they’ve got to reduce some body weight.

So, now you know why two people with same weight and height can look different
The differentiator is fat percentage! If one has a lower fat percentage with higher muscle mass compared to the other, then he or she will look fitter compared to other, despite having the same weight.

The fat percentage in one’s body makes all the difference. (Istock)

Inputs by Ashish Gupta and Vinod Channa, fitness experts

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