Losing Weight and Losing Fat—Same Thing?  

For many people who want to achieve their weight loss or fitness goals, they focus on weight.  

Losing weight means developing a healthy, fit body. However, weight loss doesn’t always mean losing fat as well. 

In the first 2 weeks of a diet, almost everyone loses weight.  

Weight is not always body fat alone. Many people don’t know that there several factors that affect body weight and what constitutes true weight loss. 

>> Related: Weight: Lose It & Maintain It [10 Questions About Weight Loss]

 

Factors Affecting Body Weight 

1Water 

The body is composed of 70% water; therefore, the fluid balance of the body has a major impact on body weight.  

Small fluctuations can have a large impact on the weight. 

There are even athletes who manipulate the water budget specifically to be assigned to a lower weight category in their sport.  

They lose neither fat nor muscle. 

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2Carbohydrates 

Carbs are the body’s main source of energy and can be stored in the form of glycogen in muscles and liver.  

Depending how much muscle a person has, the more glycogen his body can store.  

Weight is highly influenced because one gram of glycogen binds about 2.7 g of water. 

A person of average physique can store about 300-400 g of glycogen.  

However, a trained endurance athlete or bodybuilder with lots of muscle can store up to 600-800 g. A weight difference of several kilos by glycogen is not uncommon. 

A low-carb diet guarantees weight loss even in just the first few days. This is because the first thing that the body gets rid of is water.   

Through diet, the glycogen stored in the liver is first reduced. The glycogen stored in the muscles can only be decreased when the specific muscle is being trained. 

>> Related: 13 Foods to Lose Weight in 30 Days [Natural Weight Loss Tips]

3Salt Intake 

How much salt one uses has great influence on the water balance and on weight. 

Lower salt intake reduces the salinity in body water. When water from salt is eliminated, weight loss occurs.  

Those who use salt frequently should change their diet so that there is less food intake and can expect to lose weight. However, this weight change has nothing to do with fat loss. 

>>Related: Why Is Good Nutrition Important?

4Stress 

Going on a diet causes stress for the body and this has an impact on the water balance of the body. 

A diet with high calorie deficit causes stress and usually leads to the release of cortisol, the stress hormone.  

Cortisol stores water. Any form of stress, physical or mental, can affect the stress hormones. 

It is common for you to lose fat, but it is covered by a change in the water balance. The balance stands still, although fat has been removed. 

Because of this, eating or diet breaks are designed to deliberately manipulate carbohydrates and calories to help your body relax and balance hormones as best they can.  

One to three kilos of weight loss “overnight” is common. 

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5Monthly period  

The period also has a major influence on the water balance of the body. During the menstrual cycle, the hormone progesterone causes the female body to store more water.  

After menstruation, progesterone decreases and the body excretes the stored water.  

If you weigh yourself once a week, the period may give the impression that you are not losing or you’re plateauing. But fat loss doesn’t occur during this time.  

>>Related: 10 Workout & Weight Loss Tips for Women [–and Men]

6Stomach and intestinal contents 

The amount of food and the composition of meals have an influence on body weight.  

When the body consumes less food during a diet, the stomach contents are also reduced.  

Certainly, the lower content is also noticeable on the scale. But it doesn’t mean fat loss.  

However, those who have a higher fiber intake don’t feel this weight loss. 

>>Related: Your Diet Checklist for Healthy Digestion [5 Foods for Gut Health]

7Muscle loss  

While weight loss is not immediately noticeable, you can lose muscle if you just want to lose weight. 

Losing weight works on the calorie balance, for example, if you feed less calories than you consume, you lose weight. 

Your activity then determines what you lose—weight, fat or muscle.  

If you just want to lose weight or lose weight without doing sports, you will lose muscle in the long term and feel unhappy after a diet. 

Incidentally, this is often the reason for the myth of “dormant metabolism” and the yo-yo effect.  

The loss of muscle mass also means a reduction of active body mass and thus a lower calorie consumption. 

>>Related: Muscle Building for Beginners: The Ultimate Guide

 

Why is fat loss crucial instead of simple weight loss? 

A healthy, lean body has about 10% body fat in men and 15% in women.  

Theoretically, you can achieve this body fat percentage and still be considered overweight according to your BMI.  

That’s because muscles also increase body weight and have a higher density than body fat. 

High levels of body fat can be responsible for many health problems, and vital organs can be severely damaged if the body fat percentage is over 30%. 

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What should you pay attention to? 

A combination of classic strength training and endurance units improves the figure not only by building muscle, but also optimizes fat burning.  

However, regular sports or workout should always be combined with a balanced and healthy diet. 

While there are many “miracle diets” to lose weight fast, a sustainable diet change is the only way to lose fat and maintain weight.  

 >>Related: 6 Biggest Weight Loss Myths You Need to Stop Believing

 

How to tell if you’ve lost fat?  

Your doctor or trainer can measure your body fat percentage by taking skin fold calipers or using a body fat calculator.  

A very simple trick to identify progress is taking regular photos of your front, back and side.  

Over the weeks and months, you can compare the photo and draw conclusions about your success. 

This sounds a bit conceited, but it’s a “healthy selfie”. 

Your progress doesn’t come overnight, which is why it’s difficult to notice significant differences daily. Photos are therefore a more reliable and objective way to track your progress in terms of losing weight. 

>>Related: Fat Burning: 10 Frequently Asked Questions—Answered

 

How to track your progress? 

Use a training schedule to track your performance. Can you keep your stamina units longer? Are you able to train faster or harder? Can you move heavier weights than before? 

Any improvement in your training is a sign that you are getting healthier, stronger and closer to your fitness goals! 

In Conclusion  

Weight loss does not automatically mean fat loss. 

The calorie balance determines whether you lose weight or not. And your activity decides what you lose—muscle or fat. 

Try to keep as much muscle on a diet as possible to burn as much fat as possible. 

Also, because of water balance and food supply, the body weight can fluctuate between 1-2% every day. That is about 1-2 kg for a man weighing 100 kg. 

Moreover, fat loss doesn’t not take place in 2 days. It requires a longer time in a calorie deficit to reduce body fat.  

Providing the body with enough protein in a calorie deficit and exercising its muscles will help maintain muscle mass and reduce fat predominantly. 

 

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