Weight loss VS Fat loss – The Difference Explained

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Weight loss vs fat loss it seems like there is still so much confusion between these 2…In this article, I’m explaining to you the exact difference!

When people tell me ‘ I want to lose weight’ I always ask them do you want to lose weight or lose fat? Then I always get a weird questioning look, like what do you mean? what is the difference…

I understand why they ask me that because that’s what I always said at the beginning of my weight loss journey. But in reality, there exactly a lot of difference between weight loss vs fat loss. And those differences I’m going to explain in this article.

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The Basics of Losing Weight

Losing weight or lose fat isn’t that difficult to explain or execute. The simple formula is Calories in vs calories out. So that means if you need 2300 calories to lose weight then you will need to be eating less than that number to lose weight and eventually fat.

Why is say eventually fat is because there is a big difference between these 2 and I will touch on weight loss vs fat loss later on in this article.

Calculating Your Macros

Losing weight/fat has all to do with if you stick to your daily calorie and macro intake. First off you need to understand what macros are. Macronutrients, or “macros,” are the building blocks of nutrition. You probably know them better as:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats
  • Protein

Those 3 macronutrients have an individual calorie number. So 1 gram of carbs is 4 calories, 1 gram of fat is 9 calories and protein has 4 calories per gram.

This is critical if you need to make a well-balanced diet. 

To make your meal plans you first need to figure out how many calories you should eat on a daily basis to lose weight. You can easily find that information on IIFYM.com. They will also calculate your macro’s for you for free, but for the sake of this article, I am going to explain how they come up with those numbers.

Example: Your daily calorie intake to lose weight is 2300 calories. Then you need to split 2300 calories by the 3 macronutrients. A normal split of calories is usually:

  • 50% carbohydrates
  • 25% fats
  • 25% protein
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How do you calculate your macro’s:

Divide 2300 by 2, because half of your calories are coming from carbohydrates. You have got 1150 calories coming from carbs, and as shown above, 1 gram of carbs is 4 calories. Then we divide 1150 calories by 4, which means we have a daily intake of 287.5 grams of carbs.

The remaining calories are easy to divide. You have 1150 calories left to split. You half that amount, because fats and protein are both 25%. Then divide by 9, because 1 gram of fat is 9 calories. The total amount of daily fat intake is 63 grams.

You do the same for your protein intake. divide 1150 by 2 and divide again by 4. Because 1 gram of protein is 4 calories. The total amount of daily protein intake is 143 grams.

Your Macro’s calculated (example):

  • Total Calories: 2300
  • Total Carbohydrates: 287.5 grams
  • Total Fats: 63 grams
  • Total Protein: 143 grams

Losing Water Weight Instead of Fat

Have you ever noticed that at the beginning of your weight loss journey you lost a lot of weight on THE SCALE? This might lead you to think oh WOW I’m doing really well and then you’re looking in the mirror and nothing has changed..?

I used to be really confused by this as well, but there is a good explanation for, and that is because you’re losing water weight instead of losing fat.

This isn’t a bad thing though, because what happens with your body is the following.

I used to be really confused by this as well, but there is a good explanation for, and that is because you’re losing water weight instead of losing fat.

This isn’t a bad thing though, because what happens with your body is the following.

As you significantly cut back your carbohydrate intake your body starts breaking down the stored carbohydrates (glycogen) to use as energy, and this breakdown causes the body to excrete large amounts of water.

Once the body begins to use stored fat for energy, weight loss slows. This is why most people lose a significant amount of weight right away on a low carb, high protein diet. Extreme low carb, high protein diets can often lead the body to a state of dehydration because of the significant fluid loss.

how to lose weight
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Causes of your body to hold on to water

You might have noticed that after you had a refeed day or a cheat meal (which by the way is NOT a bad thing and you should feel guilty about it) you gained a substantial amount of weight. The reason is actually very simple.

The reason why people don’t like cheat meals and why it has such a bad rep is because the day after the cheat meal you usually gained weight. But this does not mean you automatically gained fat. I can almost guarantee you that you haven’t gained fat. 

What you did gain was…you guessed it water weight. The reason is that you gained water is because you binged on all your favorite foods. You ate that delicious pizza or a gigantic burger or steak. 

These foods are LOADED with sodium, and what sodium does is, it dries out the body. If it does that to a certain level your body goes into survival mode. Which makes your body actually hold on to the water is has. This leads to gained ‘weight’ on the scale. 

You don’t need to stress about this. Especially when there is such a simple solution to this issue. That solution is, Drink your WATER. 

Go berzerk on water on the day after your cheat meal and pee all that excess water out.

 

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How To start Losing fat!

When you lose fat you obviously lose weight, but when will you lose just fat and only fat and what can you do about it. 

Build muscle

Building muscle might be the holy grail when it comes to weight loss vs fat loss. The ultimate goal when losing weight or cutting body fat is to maintain as much muscle as possible or maybe even gain some because it is definitely possible. Your body fat % is a key indicator of your success, not the scale. In fact, stay off the scale.

So how do you do it..?

Muscles have these little fat-burning powerhouses called mitochondria.

What are they and how do you get them:

Mitochondria are cellular power plants that are responsible for the production of energy. It’s in the mitochondria that fat is metabolized.

How do you get them?

You need to be giving your body a reason to create more of them. You do this by performing high-intensity exercise. HIIT training is just one of these methods. Weight training is another. By creating a large demand for energy up and above what your body can already produce, your body is forced to create new mitochondria in order to be prepared for the next time your muscles call on that needed extra energy

Eat Your Carbs

“I tried that diet and lost 8 pounds in the first week!”

“I’ve gained three pounds in one day! It must have been the cookie I ateor maybe the mashed potatoes!”

What is misleading is when a person following a low carb plan eats a carbohydrate-rich food they can easily gain 1-3 pounds. However, this weight gain is just your body replenishing the fluid it lost and is not gained fat.

More reasons to eat carbs:

  • Carbs help regulate muscle glycogen repletion. 
  • Carbs prevent muscle degradation. One concern about low-carb diets is muscle loss. …
  • Carbs help muscles recover from exercise.
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How To Prevent Muscle Loss

It should be clear by now that the difference between weight loss vs fat loss is in the diet and muscle building section. So how do you prevent muscle loss while cutting fat? Here are my top tips.

Diet

  • Make sure your protein intake remains high (1-2 g / lb bodyweight).
  • make sure fat intake is sufficient (20% of total calories).
  • The rest of your diet plan should consist of carbohydrates. This might seem like a lot even when you’re cutting, but believe me you will lose weight.

Eventually, you will be cutting your carb intake so you need to be sure that you’re eating good quality carb sources to stay full and energized for your workouts. You should be eating foods like this and cut out processed carbs:

  • Oatmeal
  • Whole grain bread
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Yams
  • Potatoes
  • And vegetables to name a few.

Exercise

You need to be exercising otherwise you definitely lose muscle. But you do need to be focussing on effective training when you’re training on low calories.

For example, if you get great gains using heavy weights to build muscle, then use heavy weights while you are losing fat. If you get great gains using HST, periodization, high volume, low volume, etc. then use those techniques while you are losing fat.

weight loss vs fat loss
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What Supplements Would Help Preserve Hard Earned Muscle?

When losing weight, you must ensure that your diet remains complete. This becomes increasingly difficult when on low calories because you are eating less foods. I am a firm believer in natural foods, so I stick to the basics in terms of supplementation.

Multivitamin

There are lots of great vitamins and minerals are found in carbohydrate sources. When you reduce carbohydrates, you limit this intake of micronutrients. Taking a multivitamin will ensure that your diet remains complete. Personally I take two per day, one with breakfast and one in the afternoon (or with my post-workout meal).

Essential Fatty Acids (EFA)

Many metabolic functions require fats (hormone production for example) which are critical to maintaining muscle mass. Therefore, getting the essential fats are important.

Upon that, EFA have been shown to aid in fat loss. Personally, I take two tablespoons per day, one with breakfast and one later in the day.

Protein

As stated above, dietary protein intake becomes critical during low calorie diets. You must make sure you have the right protein at the right times. You can learn more about different types of protein by reading the following article.

Also, it is important to get all the essential amino acids so your body does not have to break down muscle tissue to get them.

Essential amino acids are ones which your body cannot synthesize directly. Therefore you must eat them through dietary protein. Most protein supplements have excellent amino acid profiles which contain all of the essential amino acids.

Find all my reccommended supplements here

Cardio

Assuming that your diet is on point then cardio is a great tool to make you lose fat even faster. Cardio is great for creating an additional energy deficit in your metabolism without having to eat less food.

Fasted cardio

I’m a HUGE fan of Intermittent fasting, and often I will be doing fasted training or only fasted cardio in the morning.

What this does and why fasted cardio is great for when it comes to fat loss and makes such a difference in weight loss  vs fat loss is that your body hasn’t had any calories yet to use for energy. Your body has to get energy from somewhere, and it’s going to get that energy from your fat stores. 

Follow these guidelines and you will reach your true goal of not just losing weight, but losing that unwanted fat, and keeping your beautiful muscle.

Vincent Sorel

Vincent Sorel

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