Do you know the difference between weight loss and fat loss? Get the skinny from a former fat girl turned health coach.
I used to be a HUGE fan of Garfield comic books. That fat, sarcastic, lasagna-eating, and Monday-hating cat always made me smile. There were days I would spend hours in the bookstore just reading the latest comic while my mom browsed for books. I never wanted to put them down!
Garfield connected with me, because he was pretty realistic about his chances of ever losing weight. One comic really stood out, though.
John was posing in front of a mirror and flexing his non-existent biceps while preparing for a hot date with his love, Liz. He was waxing poetic about how crazy girls go for big muscles.
Then, he turns around to see Garfield showing off a physique worthy of the biggest meathead.
Garfield’s comment, “Did you know you can flex fat?”
All joking aside, most of us cannot flex our fat. In fact, most of us don’t pay attention to our fat at all (unless it’s to dream that it would magically melt away). When researching your options for how to lose weight, you have probably stumbled across weight loss programs –OR– fat loss programs. Which one should you choose?
It might appear that losing weight and losing fat are the same thing, but the reality is they are very different. Depending on what your particular goals are, you might find that you should choose one over the other.
I have chosen both weight loss and fat loss programs, but at different stages in my 100-pound journey to a more blissful me. When I first committed to a healthier lifestyle, I focused entirely on weight loss. This means that I cut calories.
Cutting calories is the most effective way to lose weight, especially if you are not following an exercise plan at the same time. Experts often say that weight loss is “80% nutrition and 20% fitness”. I couldn’t agree more.
You can expect an average weight loss of 1-2 pounds a week on this type of program. A popular program that takes this approach is Weight Watchers. Most women over the age of 30 have been raised on the idea of counting calories, points or carbs. It can be hard to imagine any different way of “watching what you eat”.
The problem with counting calories is- it is SO DANG HARD! You find yourself avoiding your favorite high-calorie foods, finding less satisfying substitutes or yearning for a no holds-barred cheat day.Do you know the difference between #weightloss and #fatloss? Get the skinny here. Click To Tweet
As I became lighter, I realized that the foods I ate weren’t necessarily nutritious. For example, I would eat high amounts of carbohydrates throughout the day, mostly in the form of bread, rice, crackers and popcorn. In other words, I wasn’t eating enough fruits and vegetables. I had also reached a frustrating weight loss plateau.
That’s when I started my fat loss strategy. I discovered Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle, which is a fat-loss diet an e-book written by Tom Venuto. This program stresses the importance of protein and strength-training in order to get a leaner body.
The program requires total commitment to eating 5-6 times a day, incorporating a high quality protein in each meal, and lifting weights at least 2-3 times a week. It also might require planning your meals before you eat, rather than after you eat. Cardio is less important on a fat loss plan, unless it involves high intensity interval training (HIIT).
Fat loss is different from weight loss, because you are building muscle. As muscle weighs more than fat, you can actually see the number on the scale go UP instead of DOWN. Therefore, other measurements are used to track success in a fat-loss program. These measurements might be body fat percentage or inches. If you do lose weight, it might be up to 2 pounds a week.
Watch the video on how often you should weigh yourself (without getting frustrated)
How do you know whether weight loss or fat loss is right for you? Here are some basic differences between the two, and reasons you should consider one over the other:
- Not ready to commit to a regular exercise plan
- Not interested in weight training
- Are prepared to track your calorie consumption
- Want to continue eating high amounts of grains
- Decrease portion sizes
- Want to see less pounds on the scale
- Drink calorie-free beverages
- Low intensity exercise
- Ready to commit to a regular exercise plan
- Willing to train with weights
- Are prepared to pre-plan your meals
- Want to eat a balance of macronutrients
- Increase number of meals you eat per day
- Want to sculpt your body
- Drink water or sugar-free beverages
- High intensity exercise
There are benefits to both a weight loss and a fat loss plan, depending on where you are personally in your health journey. For me, starting with a weight loss plans similar to Weightwatchers helped me create awareness around my daily patterns. However, once I started plateauing, I needed the more advanced fat loss strategy.