Fat Loss vs Weight Loss: What's the Difference?

When most people think of weight loss, they're really thinking about FAT loss. You can lose a lot of weight and still be fat, and you can lose a lot of fat without actually dropping any pounds. The two are very different, and the truth is that fat loss is far more important than weight loss. Why is that?

Muscle is Heavy

If you try to lose weight, it often means that you are losing muscle mass instead of fat mass. Muscle weighs a good deal more than fat, and it takes more work to maintain. If your efforts are focused on just losing weight--which usually involves a lot of cardio and a low-fat diet--chances are you're neglecting your muscles. You may lose weight, but you retain the same amount of body fat. All that you've lost is muscle mass, making it harder for you to get rid of the fat in the long run.

More Muscle = Better Fat Burning

Make no mistake: your muscles DO NOT burn fat. They burn ATP, a form of energy produced from glucose--essentially sugar. But, the more muscle mass you have, the more glucose your body uses. As you cut back on carbs (the key to weight loss), you only give your body a limited supply of glucose. If your muscles use up all the available glucose, it forces the rest of your body (brain, organs, internal systems) to turn fat into glucose. This not only encourages more efficient processing of the fat in your diet, but helps your body to activate stored fat. The result: fat loss!

Weight Loss Affects Your Metabolism

If you lose a lot of weight, your body is more likely to shut down, treating the drastic weight loss as "starvation". This causes it to conserve energy, leading to a low-energy state and less effective fat loss. But, if you focus on burning fat, you give your body all the food it needs, but you increase the amount of exercise you do and adjust your diet. Your metabolism is revved up thanks to all the food and exercise, and you end up burning more calories every day.

Weight Loss Causes Dehydration

If you lose a lot of weight very quickly, chances are most of that was water weight. While it may feel great to be lighter than before, this can backfire quickly. Your body is made up of 70% water, so a lack of water can be a serious problem--leading to dehydration. If your dehydrated state persists, your muscles will shrink and atrophy as a means of adapting to the low-water state. This can lead to muscle mass loss, the opposite of what you want!

"Weight Loss" is Unhealthy

When you say "weight loss", most people think of a low-calorie diet. But did you know that eating fewer calories isn't always the smart way to go? Your body needs energy to function, so if it senses that you aren't getting enough food, it will send less energy to your brain, your eyes, your heart, and all your other internal functions. This can lead to a low-energy state, making you feel lethargic and fatigued. But with a diet and exercise program aimed at fat loss, you're getting enough calories to produce energy. You give your body what it needs, but with a balance of nutrients that encourages your body to burn stored fat when you exercise. The result is a much healthier body, and a diet and lifestyle that is far easier to sustain over the long term!

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