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Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss

Quick Summary Points

  • A drop in kilos or pounds is not always an indication that you have lost fat.
  • Weight loss involves losing muscle, fat and water.
  • Fat loss involves reducing the amount of fat your body carries.
  • Tips on reducing fat loss include adding high intensity resistance training, proper nutrition and making sure that preserving muscle is your crucial goal.
  • Focus on fat loss, not on weight loss.


Weight can be a key focus for a lot of people who are developing their personal fitness goals. For many people, losing weight can be synonymous with getting a healthy or fit body. Nonetheless, a drop in kilos or pounds is not always an indication that you have lost fat.

So, what should we be looking at and what are the differences between weight loss and fat loss? In this article we will be covering the key aspects mentioned as well as key pointers to direct you in the right direction. 

What is Weight Loss? 

Weight loss is a decrease in body weight due to the loss of body fat. As mentioned briefly above, body weight is often used as an indication to measure one’s fitness progress. Many individuals do not realise that body weight is more than just fat. It is about a combination including muscle, fat, bone and water which can add up on the scale. So, ultimately weight loss involves losing muscle, fat and water. 

What Does Weight Loss Involve? 

As many people do not know the fundamental difference, they think that losing weight is the right way to go but in fact when you are losing weight you are losing both fat and muscle which is not the proper way to go because most people are aiming for fat loss.  However, you do not want to be losing weight and the reason being is that weight loss can lead to a decrease the fitness level, reduce strength and deteriorate performance. In order to start losing fat, you need to understand that losing weight is not the same as burning fat.

What is Fat Loss? 

Fat loss essentially is the amount of fat your body carries.  The fat we store is mostly subcutaneous (under the skin) or in the body cavity (visceral). This means that people should be aiming to lose fat because carrying a lot of excessive body fat makes health, body composition, and athletic performance decline.

Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss

You often hear people that say they want to lose weight when what they really want to do is lose fat. As a result of this mental approach to the problem, they start their journey on the wrong foot. Although they know how much they weigh, most of them don’t know how much of that is lean muscle mass, and how much is the body fat percentage. So for those who want to start off on the right foot a fundamental tip would be to stop weighing yourself and stop focussing on the numbers on the scale. Instead focus on addressing the excess fat you want to lose by using the right tools which will be mentioned below. 

Tips for Reducing Fat Loss

  • Include resistance training into your training regime

It is often said that cardio plays a great part in reducing fat, but it is also important to tone and increase your muscle size. Incorporating high resistance training can add lean muscle and burn more energy.

  • Preserving muscle while losing fat

For most trainers or bodybuilders, the ultimate goal for successful weight loss is to preserve as much muscle as possible. So what you want to be doing is using your body fat percentage as the key indicator of your training journey and not what the number of the scale is telling you. Within your muscles you have mitochondria that is metabolised which has the ability to help you burn fat.

  • Correct nutrition and diet

To prevent muscle loss, a correct nutrition and diet must be in place. Many forget the importance of a fitness plan and importance of having the essential nutrients which results in a loss of lean body mass.  When going through your fat loss phase, not only do you require nutritional food sources but you also need a supplement to help minimise the effects of carbohydrate restriction and to build up your immune system. 

How to Track Fitness Progress

So what tools can we use to track our fitness progress if we do not want to be focussing on the scales?  

Body Fat Caliper – This can be used to measure fat ideally every 2 weeks as there will not be any extreme changes. You can use this tool to calculate your body fat percentage.

Tape Measure – Depending on what goals you are aiming for, measurements can be taken for your chest, arms, waist, tummy and thighs.

Training/Fitness Log – A great way to detail everything especially when you are doing strength training

Final Verdict

Although the amount of body fat on an individual can vary between each individual it is very important to distinguish between weight loss and fat loss. Knowing the difference can help you achieve the results you’re after by targeting the right issue.

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