Weight Loss vs Fat Loss – Know the difference!

How many of you are obsessed with your scales?

Go on, admit it. If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll get on those things probably every day! You’ll probably high five yourself for every pound you lose and chastise yourself for every pound you gain.

There’s a problem though. Here’s what the scales actually tell us:

– How much force your body puts against the floor when acting against gravity

That’s it.

Now, why do most people want to lose weight? (I’m just full of the insightful questions today!)

To look better.

True a few of us are doing it for our health, and longer term as you start to feel how awesome it feels to have all day long energy, and the strength to pick your kids up without having to grunt, or carry things up the stairs without having to gasp from breath at the top, you’ll start to switch on to the health benefits.

But in reality, most of us start our journey because we don’t like the way we look in the mirror. Because going into a clothes shop and forcefully edging jeans up your thighs that ultimately won’t go over your muffin top makes you die a little inside.

So that in mind, here’s another problem. Studies have shown so far that if you’re not eating a healthy balanced diet AND doing the right type of exercise, up to 20% of the weight you lost could be lean tissue.

So if you lose 5 pounds, if you’re not following a sensible healthy eating plan that gives you a good balance of nutrition, and to compliment that you’re not doing the right type of exercise (exercise that specifically targets and stimulates your lean tissue), you’d be forgiven to think you’ve lost this:

5lbs-of-fat

You’ll probably even wander the streets just to find people to fist bump.

Chances are though, in reality it’s more likely you’ve lost this:

fat-and-muscle-loss

And even that’s simplifying the issue by not taking into account water weight or glycogen stored in the muscle. If it’s the first week or two, (and again if you’re not following a healthy, balanced, calorie controlled eating plan AND doing a proper workout plan to accompany that) what you actually lost probably looks more like this:

fat-muscle-water

Now to be fair, if it’s the first one, 4 pounds of fat is 4 pounds of fat and it’s still a good result if you isolate just that part of it. The problem is the implications of that result if they’re not properly managed by changing to an eating plan that’s well balanced and start exercising properly.

Let’s say you’ve got 2 stone to lose. In fact let’s round it up to 30 pounds to make it easier.

If you continue on that road, 30lbs later and you’ve lost 6 pounds of the stuff that makes you shapely and toned. It also means out of that 30 lbs of weight, you have in actual fact lost 24 pounds of fat (4 pounds less than our original 2 stone goal).

Now lets say you’ve lost 30 pounds on the scales, but in the process you GAINED 6 pounds of the shapely stuff. Well that now means you’ve actually lost 36 pounds of FAT (so 36 of those little dudes above).

So that means, even though the scale told us the same thing in both examples (30 pound loss), in the bottom one, you’ve actually lost 12 pounds MORE fat than the top one.

That’s nearly a STONE!

Or to put it another way, that’s this much MORE fat:

12-pounds-of-fat2

So back to doing it for the looks. The best way I’ve ever heard this described is if you’re a pear shape and you lose 5 pounds of muscle, you’ll just be a smaller pear shape.

Two obese blokes on a beach. Can you work out which one Johnny Wilkinson is?

Two obese blokes on a beach. Can you work out which one Johnny Wilkinson is?

What’s the point of losing weight if you’re just a flabby skinny person for all of your efforts?

Plus did you know for every pound of muscle you lose, you now have to eat up to 100 calories LESS (depending on the study) every day just to maintain that loss? And it works in reverse too. Gain a pound of muscle and you can eat up to 100 calories MORE instead!

That’s why we measure your body composition. We need your weight so we can calculate how much of your body weight is fat and how much is lean, but outside of that, your weight on its own doesn’t really tell us much. It’s the same reason why medical institutions are now starting to drop BMI as a health indicator.

After all, who honestly believes Johnny Wilkinson is obese?

To give you an idea, here’s a couple of examples from around t’interwebs:

Woman

Gaining 5 pounds can get you kicked out of some slimming groups! She probably doesn’t care though.

Bloke

It’s not just women who need to know the difference between fat and muscle!

And I know some people have a lot more to lose, but you need to be pretty lean to see the visual effects of fat loss versus weight loss, so I can understand if you find it hard to relate to these pictures as it stands because of where you are now.

However, for someone who DOES have a lot to lose, if you ignore the importance now, when you get to a body weight that you SHOULD be lean and toned at but find yourself thin and flabby, the damage will already be done!

And don’t get me wrong, it can be fixed, it’s just takes more time and effort to do that.

So if you find yourself getting sucked into a crazy quick fix like a soup or shake diet, or one where you fast for a couple of days per week, you might think it’s a quick fix, but actually, the time you’ll spend fixing the damage you’ve done getting to your goal weight then finding out that the grass is just as brown and dry as it was when you were overweight will pail when compared to the time it would have taken you to lose fat and sculpt a lean, toned physique if you’d started out right!

And let’s face it, if we were all lean and toned, we probably wouldn’t even own a set of bathroom scales! Because who would give a monkeys how much we weighed?

Now, understand I’m not dissing weight loss here. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose, yes it will drop… OVER TIME. Some it’ll happen fast, some it’ll happen slower, that’s ultimately down to the cards your parents dealt you! But whatever the speed, much more important things are happening to change the way you look. You just need to be consistent.

Changing your body composition, and effectively exercising the proper postural muscles like we focus on in Bootcamp and PT is what changes the way you look in and out of your clothes.

So tell me below, do you let the number on the scales rule your life, or re you more interested in how you look and feel?