Why is it important to understand the difference between fat loss and weight loss?
Individuals who are overweight or obese any weight loss is a positive thing; however it is only two-dimensional and doesn’t tell the true or better picture. Whereas monitoring fat loss is superior to watching only the scale in that it is more three-dimensional to ensure what is being lost will not come back to haunt you latter.
Losing muscle is not generally healthy, as it slows our metabolism and can be debilitating in the long run when it comes to daily functioning. Therefore the goal is to lose only body fat during a weight loss program unless you are extremely overweight; in which can be acceptable. In the latter situation its normal to lose a small amount of muscle, typically acceptable loss in lean body mass (muscle) is about 25%.
Take for instance a 150 pound female that over a year gains 20 lbs on the scale. Basically the increase in scale weight (20 lbs) was a progressive overload that her body had to account for to perform activities of daily living (ADL’s). Therefore with an additional 20lbs on her frame, more likely her LBM increased 5 lbs (25% of the 20 lb increase) to help her move her body frame that is now 20 lb heavier to get out of bed and perform her ADL’s.
On the flip side, if this same 150 lb female would lose 20lbs without extreme starvation diets or chronic aerobic activity that is catabolic (breaks down skeletal muscle / metabolism) it would be acceptable for her to lose 5 lbs of those 20 lbs on the scale as lean body mass. Any more than 25% is unacceptable and that program must be tweaked to reverse and secure muscle and minimize any acceleration of aging that excess loss of lean body mass creates. When individuals lose large amount weight and their friends and family make comments that they look sick or ill, it is because they lost too much (25%+) of that priceless active lean tissue (muscle) that make them more tone and healthy looking.
Below are other facts on why losing fat only is the best course and why we recommend using changes in body fat to gauge your results whenever possible. By measuring body fat you can see exactly how much fat and/or muscle is lost or gained and it’s also shows you why your weight might not change but your body fat has gone down, meaning you added valuable muscle.
- – Muscle = Metabolism. The only place calories are burned are in muscle tissue (mitochondria). One pound of lean body mass burns approximately ~6cals/LB/day at rest and much more when moving. Conversely, body fat is a storehouse for calories. One pound of fat only burns ~2.1cals/LB/day and stores 3500 calories of energy. Adding or maintaining muscle keeps the metabolism revved up.
- – Muscle = Anti-Aging. Aging is nothing more than loss of our lean body mass. The aging process starts about our second decade in life and what we do (move); how we move (progressive overload) and how we fuel it (eat) will determine if we slow or accelerate the aging process.
- – Muscle = Thin and Tone. A misconception many people have is that muscle weighs more than fat. One pound is one pound; therefore what people need to understand is that muscle is denser than fat which means takes of less space. Muscle tissue is denser and more attractive than fat tissue because it is 70 percent water and firm, while fat is approximately 20 percent water.
- – Safe Weight Loss: One to two lbs per week is considered safe. When losing weight quickly (more than 1.5LBS/week), ~25 percent will be lost from lean muscle tissue unless you are supplementing the diet and resistance training. If 25 percent or more of the weight you lose is from lean muscle tissue, weight re-gain and more is likely.
- – Under-eating: Rapid weight loss and under-eating cause muscle tissue to be used for energy, which decreases metabolism. Under-eating is determined by your net caloric deficit, not a general number. Without a major concern for muscle (heavy resistance training, 20-35% of total calories from Protein and more likely additional supplementation, e.g., First String, AminoBoost, etc..) under-eating and risk of loss muscle starts around a 750 calorie deficit. If your metabolism is 2000 calories then about 1250 would be the lowest you would eat to minimize loss of muscle in your program.
- – Caloric formula: Understanding your caloric formula (daily caloric burn, target intake specific to your weight goal) while providing your body with the food and nutrients that fulfills your personal formula will sufficiently fuel working muscles, initiate fat loss and develop a healthier metabolism.
The key to leveraging your efforts towards any weight loss that is pure fat loss and not precious muscle starts with regular monitoring. My professional recommendation to anyone serious about losing fat and keeping it off is finding a professional who specializes in fat loss by being able to calculate your metabolism, personalized a nutritional plan based on your metabolism and will monitor your progress on a weekly basis and know how to tweak your nutrition and exercise program based on the changes in your body. In conclusion, muscle is your best friend for weight loss; understand how to secure or increase your muscle then how to leverage it for most effective and efficient weight management.
If you are serious about achieving a body transformation goal, then you need a program, as any goal without a plan is really only a wish!
For more information, please feel free to schedule a FREE consult with any of the fitness professionals at My Fitness Kitchen®.
This FREE Consult is a strategy session for us to learn your goals, factor in your availability, interests, limitations (if any) and prepare a personalized game plan following our L.E.A.N (Livable Exercise and Nutrition) Lifestyle while empowering you on the “Hierarchy of Fat Loss”.
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