Is Fat Loss Different Than Weight Loss? 


I argue and profound yes! Most people who want to lose weight are actually referring to the desire to lose fat. Why take the time to differentiate between them? Because the strategy of how you go about them is completely different. A lot of people think all you have to do is cut calories and do a bunch of cardio in order to lose fat. This is partially true. What will happen is you will lose weight: 1) water 2) muscle 3) some fat. The problem with this method is that your physique will still LOOK THE SAME, just at a smaller size. For some people this is ok, however, you’re likely “damaging” your metabolism using this method. Your body will find its homeostasis at a lower caloric intake, then you will no longer see weight loss, hit a plateau, and wonder why you can’t lose weight even though you’re only eating 1200 – 1500 kcals a day. I’m not surprised this is a common method, as this has been the predominate message from experts for a very long time. It has been so ingrained in our society that we have to cut calories and add in cardio that people don’t even realize there is a different way in which to go about fat loss.
So what’s the alternative? What I would recommend instead is 1) follow a pattern of eating that is conducive to fat loss (we will unpack exactly what this looks like) and 2) getting very comfortable lifting weights. Diet: for most people this will be following a macronutrients based plan where your fat is kept low, while protein and carbs are moderate to high. The macro split will be approximately 20% fat, 40% protein, and 40% carbs. There is a few reasons why the split is split the way that it is. If order to lose fat without losing muscle, you need to be building your muscles. In order to build muscle you must be eating adequate protein and carbohydrates. Its much more difficult to build muscle when your carbs are low. 


For example, take the ketogenic diet, this diet is great for losing large amounts of weight, but its not the best diet for building muscle, as the carbs are too low. Furthermore, we really don’t want to have all three of the macronutrients high all at the same time, you would put on muscle, but you would also put on a lot of fat at the same time. So in order to put on lean muscle – which is usually the goal- we need to keep protein and carbs high, and keep fat low. If you are someone who has tried a high fat low carb diet, once you switch to this split, you may be surprised how many carbs you can actually eat and not gain weight. Once your muscles start growing, your metabolism will be super charged and burn through those carbs like its nothing. 


There are a couple important caveats here. You must be eating high quality carbs, protein, and fats. What I mean by high quality is carbs in the form of vegetables, fruit, and starchy carbs like potato, banana, and rice. Minimize food from artificial sweeteners, simple sugars, and to be honest minimize wheat and gluten containing foods. This last one is a little controversial, but from my experience many people don’t do well with wheat/gluten whether they realize it or not. Gluten raises levels of a protein in the gut called zonulin. Zonulin is responsible for creating intestinal permeability. Intestinal permeability is the how inflammation is started. Inflammation in addition to being at the root of autoimmune disease, is counterproductive to losing fat. 


When the body is inflamed, you’re going to see a rise of all kind of different mechanisms that tell the body to hold fat and water. For example, inflammatory agents like TNF-a, interleukin-6, and C-reactive protein (CRP) cause the body to raise insulin levels. When you’re in an insulin resistant state that means that you’re going to have higher levels of circulating insulin in the blood stream. Insulin is the hormone that helps the body store glucose and utilize calories. Therefore, when you have high levels of circulating insulin, your body is constantly in storage mode – meaning storing fat. So if you want to lose fat, you need to bring down those inflammatory agents that are causing insulin to rise. Which is one of the reasons why its important to eat lots of fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables have anti-inflammatory effects, and will reduce the circulating TNF-a, IL-6, and CRP. They also have antioxidants which are important for reducing inflammation. 


Just to recap, first make sure you’re eating low fat (~20%F 40%C 40%P), and getting your carbs from high quality foods, namely, fruit and vegetables. Minimize artificial sweeteners and wheat/gluten, which sparks inflammation.
Most people may not believe me when I say you’ll be eating a lot! Probably more than you think you “should”. This is a difficult concept to grasp, when you’re never tried to lose fat this way. Many people are scared to eat more for fear of gaining weight. But it is possible to lose fat and eat lots of food at the same time! That’s why its important to adjust your macros into the above mentioned split. It will keep your metabolism optimized for muscle growth and fat loss. Women perhaps struggle with the concept the most, as we are very guilty of cutting calories to lose weight quickly (myself included). THIS IS NOT HOW YOU SHOULD GO ABOUT FAT LOSS and quite possibly the reason you have not seen progress, or keep recycling the same few pounds. 


Now for the exercise component. You must be able to lift weights. You cannot have a body transformation without this type of exercise. There is a bit of myth that still surrounds weight lifting, the myth that it will make you “bulky.” Striking fear into the hearts of all women. The myth is that the weight lifting doesn’t make you bulky, however, the type and the quantify of food you are eating might make you bulky (but the weight lifting definitely won’t). This is why its important to use macro tracking in order to not put on large amounts of fat while you’re lifting weights.
What types of exercises should you do? The specific exercises will be slightly different for everyone, depending on what body parts they need to focus on, and depending on what type of gym equipment is available to them. If you have never lifted weights before, you may need to start by getting a few sessions with a personal trainer. This will greatly help you know how to workout efficiently and effectively. If you’re fairly confident in how to perform the exercises, but don’t know where to start, if you do nothing else do this: get yourself on a split body rotation. I know its scary to move away from full body workouts and your cardio routine, but you need to take this step! You won’t see progress until you get 

1) an effective workout 

2) enough rest in-between workouts – which is why you should stop doing full body workouts and start resting targeted muscle groups, and 

3) adequate (or even a surplus of) protein and carbs. 


Most splits will look something like this: (your coach or trainer will adjust according to your needs, and cardio may also be added in addition to weight training)
Monday – Legs
Tuesday – Shoulders/Triceps/abs
Wednesday – Back/Biceps
Thursday – Chest/Shoulders/abs
Friday – legs
Saturday – Back/Biceps/abs
Sunday – Rest

Once you have made the switch to a split body training system all you need now is time. Body transformations don’t happen quickly. Read that again. Most people need at least 6 months to get ready for fitness competitions, but of course everyone’s body is different. If you have a lot of weight to lose first, you will need more time. If you are already lean, and want to put on more muscle and create a great shape – 6 months is probably the minimum amount of time needed. So don’t get impatient with yourself, this is why everyone says to “trust the process.” Because you don’t see dramatic change right away. You’re taking a leap of faith that you will see change at a later time if you keep doing what you’re doing.

I hope this outline on how weight loss is different than fat loss has resonated with you and that you accomplish everything you set your mind to!

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me

Hilary

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