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What Is The Difference Between Losing Fat And Losing Weight?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Written by Charlotte Campbell

Are You Losing Fat Or Losing Weight?

Weight can be a key focus for a lot of people developing their own fitness goals. For many people, losing weight can be synonymous with getting a healthy, fit body. However, a drop in pounds on the scales is not always an indication that you have lost fat.


Why would I want to lose fat rather than weight?


A healthy, lean body has around 10% body fat in men and 15% in women. However, you could achieve this level of body fat and still consider yourself “overweight” on the scales. That is because building muscle also adds to your overall bodyweight.


A high level of body fat can cause a whole host of health issues. Your heart and other vital organs can experience extreme strain if your body fat levels start to push into the 30% and above category.

How do I lose fat?


A combination of regular strength training and cardiovascular exercises will boost fat loss. This must be done in conjunction with a balanced and healthy diet. There might be “miracle” diets to lose weight, but a sensible and sustainable approach is the only way to lose fat and keep it off.


Surely if you lose a lot of weight that means you have lost fat?


Not necessarily. Of course, if you are obese and have lost several stone, this will include lost body fat. However, sometimes weight loss can mean you have lost muscle or water weight rather than fat.


Low or no carbs diets often result in a quick loss of water weight, for example. But this simply means that once you reintroduce carbs into your diet (which you should if you want to maintain a healthy exercise regime), water will simply bind to the carbs again.


For those looking to “shred” as part of a bodybuilding regime, fat loss rather than weight loss is the key to a honed physique. You could do a purely cardio based regime and lose your goal amount, but this would mean your muscle weight had decreased too, so your visual results would be diminished.

How do I know if I’ve lost fat then?


Your doctor or personal trainer might be able to calculate your body fat level with fat calipers or other methods. However, the simplest way to track your fat loss is to take full body photos of yourself as you progress.


This may seem vain, but this is a healthy selfie. Your change will not be overnight, so you may find it difficult to track your progress simply by looking in a full mirror every week. This is especially true when insecurities or over-confidence can come into play. Side by side photos are a much more reliable way for you to assess your progress.


How else can I track my progress?


Use your exercise regime as a way to measure your performance. Can you sustain your cardio exercises for longer? Can you go faster and harder? Do you lift more than you could before?

Every improvement in your workouts is an indication that you are getting healthier and stronger, and closer to your fitness goals.

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Bachelor of Science in Sport and Exercise Physiology and a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition. Faye has worked with numerous high-profile organisations, such as Men's Health, Sky Sports, Huddersfield Giants, Warrington Wolves, British Dressage and GB Rowing, providing her expert sports science support. Find out more about Faye's experience here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/faye-reid-8b619b122/. She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding.

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