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Ask Mike: What’s the difference between weight loss & fat loss?

Hi Mike,
What is the deifference between fat loss and weight loss?  Isn’t it ultimately the same thing?
Thanks.
Linda
Hi Linda,
Thanks for your question, it’s a great one.

Definitions:

Fat loss occurs when the weight of your fat mass decreases and/or your body fat % decreases.
Weight loss occurs when your body weight decreases.

Fat Loss

The main difference is that you could decrease your fat mass and your body weight on a scale could also decrease (you lost fat) or it could increase (you gained more muscle than the fat you lost) or stay the same (your fat loss was equal to your muscle gain).

Weight Loss

Where as with weight loss, the main goal is to just see the scale read less and one could lose weight from fat loss, from muscle loss or from a combination of both fat loss and muscle loss.  Having your body weight decrease because you’ve lost fat only is best case for those looking to lose weight as you’ve both decreased your body fat % and you’ve decreased your body weight, while preserving your lean mass and your metabolism.  This however is not always the case and it is not uncommon to lose muscle only, lose muscle and gain fat, or to lose both muscle and fat while losing weight.  Your goal and our goal is to not lose muscle as this can affect the rate of your metabolism, energy, mood and appearance so that is why we teach eating a protein with every meal and include strength training and high intensity interval training as part of your weight loss plan to help maintain and/or increase lean mass while losing fat mass and decreasing your body weight.

In Summary

With a fat loss goal, one could lose fat, but not lose weight because you could gain muscle at the same or at a greater rate than the fat you lose resulting in your body weight staying the same or increasingIf weight loss is your goal, then we want the majority if not all of your weight loss to come from fat loss, but know that some might come from fat loss and muscle loss, or from entirely muscle loss and that the reason you must eat a protein at every meal, strength train and do high intensity interval training for cardio is to both preserve and enhance your lean mass.
If you want to maintain your body weight while focusing on fat loss then you must decrease your fat loss and increase your muscle gain at roughly the same rate.  A 1:1 ratio.
If you want to increase your body weight while keeping your body fat percentage the same or lower, then you must increase your muscle gained while maintaining your fat mass and/or decreasing your fat mass at a rate less than the rate at which you gain muscle.

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About the Author
is the owner and founder of Athletes by Alves a performance training company and co-owner of Change Your Body Boot Camps a full service lifestyle transformation program. He is a Licensed and Certified Athletic Trainer with the Prestigious National Athletic Trainers Association and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with the World Renowned National Strength and Conditioning Association. As a coach and trainer he has helped thousands of people return to health, improve their shape and achieve personal bests through performance training.

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