• Anatomy Of Fitness

Is WEIGHT LOSS different from FAT LOSS?

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

Is weight loss different from fat loss? Do both, weight loss and fat loss result in a decrease in body weight? Which one is a true measure? Can fat loss result in an increase in weight?


Weight loss occurring without or with minimal fat loss is very different from weight loss occurring because of fat loss. Yes, both result in a decrease in the absolute weight of the body but the way it happens in each case is very different. For example, weight loss can occur due to incorrect lifestyle or severe illness like dengue fever or diseases like HIV, cancer etc. or because of dehydration (typically seen on the weight scale after a steam/ sauna session).

Any weight loss is a combination of both, muscle loss and fat loss. The goal of successful weight loss is to gain or preserve (or increase) as much muscle as possible, while at the same time lose as much body fat as possible. The body fat percentage is the right indicator of a successful fat loss program and not the weight scale. In fact, with correct nutrition, exercise and rest, we may weigh even higher than before but appear very compact due to the properties of muscle.

Weight loss without fat loss may not even be noticeable but, fat loss resulting in weight loss is impossible to not be noticed.

An Example:

Consider the following two scenarios for a 100 kg person:

  1. Total weight lost: 20 kgs

  2. Muscle lost: 15 kgs

  3. Fat lost: 5 kgs

  4. Total weight lost: 20 kgs

  5. Muscle lost: 1 kg

  6. Fat lost: 19 kg

Although both cases result in a weight loss of 20 kgs, case two is a clear winner.

Fat hangs, giggles, wobbles and occupies a lot of space. Muscle on the other hand, does not giggle, wobble and is compact, dense occupying less space.

The Incorrect BODY MASS INDEX Measure:

I am 5.11 and at my peak I was 107 kgs with 8% body fat. Today, I am 68 kgs with 16% body fat. If one had seen my body mass index at my peak one would have classified me, with a body mass index of 32.9 as an obese (anything above 30 is obese). On the body mass index scale, I was obese but in reality, I was super fit with dense muscle and less fat.

Now we know that there is something more than just our weight and our height that needs to be assessed to classify us as obese. In fact, we only need to know the body fat percentage to check for obesity. Body fat percentage is the total fat mass divided by the total body mass multiplied by 100. Most modern gyms have a fat percentage calculating machine. Enquire at your gym if they have one. Body fat percentage is one of the five pillars of fitness.

A male has an ideal body composition if no more than 15% of his overall body weight comprises of adipose tissue (fat).
A female has an ideal body composition if no more than 20% of her total body weight comprises of adipose tissue (fat).

Difference between WEIGHT LOSS & FAT LOSS.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Weight loss occurring due to fat loss is way different than weight loss occurring without significant fat loss.

  2. We should always focus on fat loss and disregard weight loss.

  3. Weight loss may or may not occur due to fat loss (if muscle weight increases more than what fat weight has been lost, the total body weight will increase).

  4. Fat loss is always healthy. Weight loss can be healthy only if more fat and less muscle is lost.

Now we understand the difference between WEIGHT LOSS and FAT LOSS and how FAT LOSS is more important that WEIGHT LOSS.

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