Many misconceptions permeate the world of health. With constant reminders to eat healthy, exercise, and achieve the ideal body, your mind will start to spin. Therefore, it’s not surprising that amongst all this chaos, many are confusing weight loss and fat loss. Trying to differentiate the two ideas at face value seems like an impossible feat. In fact, if you were asked “Would you rather lose weight or lose fat?”, you may think that you were asked a trick question. However, the two are very different and one option is undoubtedly better than the other.
“How is weight loss and fat loss different?” is something you may be asking yourself. Weight loss refers to the loss of everything: muscle, organ size, fluids, fat. When you lose weight, you may be losing “water weight,” or, in other words, simply dehydrating yourself.
Losing weight should never be one’s goal. First, losing weight is not something that can be maintained. For example, if you lose weight from a strict fad diet or a cardio-based work out regiment, you will just as easily gain all the weight back when you stop. In short, it’s unsustainable and unrealistic. Second and most importantly, losing weight is unhealthy. No one’s goal should be losing weight because your body needs a certain amount of fluids and muscle, among other things. Third, you will never achieve your desired body goal by losing weight. If you constantly push yourself to lose weight, you will only get skinnier and skinnier, which is not a healthy goal to set for yourself.
Fat loss is a healthy and achievable goal for any person. Fat loss is the prioritization of replacing fat with muscle. When you lose fat, your weight may not lower on the scale, but your health will surely increase. When you lose fat and gain muscle, you will increase your metabolism and energy levels, leading to a better quality of life.
The easiest example for understanding the difference between fat loss and weight loss is the body of professional football players. Professional football players tend to have healthy diets and spend the majority of their time exercising; however, on paper, they weigh a lot. This does not correlate to their health because their weight is mostly muscle. Although every person cannot have Body Mass Index (BMI), or fat to muscle ratio, of a football player, they are an easy cheat to remember the goal of exercising and eating right.
For all intents and purposes, achieving weight loss is simple: eat fewer carbs and processed foods, drink less water, and increase cardio workout routines. However, this lifestyle is both unsustainable and, more importantly, unhealthy. Achieving fat loss is a more complex goal that involves increasing protein intake, drinking more water and less alcohol, and incorporating a more detailed workout routine into your life. Although gaining muscle and losing fat is a more difficult goal, it is the healthier goal in the long run.
The health implications of each are obvious. Weight loss will lead to a slower metabolism, less energy, and possibly more severe health complications down the road. Fat loss will lead to more energy, muscle gain, and healthier and rewarding life.