Almost everyone is looking for a quick fix these days and there are hundreds of fad diets and weight loss programs that promise to be just that – a quick and easy way to lose weight. Many women choose to drastically slash calories and do hours of cardio in a desperate attempt to see the number on the scales go down as quickly as possible. And while they often achieve what they set out to do and lose weight, it doesn’t really produce the results they are looking for often can have a negative effect on long term progress.
Instead of being so focused on losing weight, women should be putting their efforts towards losing fat.
Let us explain why…
WEIGHT LOSS VS FAT LOSS
Is there actually a difference between the two? Yes!
A lot of programs and fad diets are intended for weight loss, which simply means lowering your overall body weight through the loss of fat, muscle mass and water from the body. But losing weight isn’t great for improving your overall body composition – you essentially just become a lighter version of yourself often without a significant change in body fat percentage. This is why we prefer to focus on fat loss.
Fat loss is a reduction in overall body fat. The aim is to lose weight while retaining as much muscle mass as possible (or increasing it in some cases). This is what helps with improving body composition as reducing your body fat percentage allows you to achieve that lean, defined look most of us are after. Not to mention, it will increase your metabolism and actually make you burn fat more effectively!
HOW TO TARGET FAT LOSS OVER WEIGHT LOSS
To lose weight you must be in a calorie deficit which means that you are burning more calories than you consume. If you want to focus on losing fat and improving your body composition instead of just losing weight, then we need to go a step further than just counting calories. You still need to create a calorie deficit and burn more calories than you consume but you also need to be more specific about your macronutrient intake. Increasing your protein intake helps to prevent your body from breaking down your muscles to provide the body with energy. Instead, your body will break down fat stores as a source of energy. It can also aid fat loss by boosting your metabolism and reducing hunger and cravings. We recommend aiming for 1.6-2.2g/kg of body weight per day.
Optimising fat loss also requires a resistance-based training program. This will assist in retaining/building your muscle mass so that the weight you are losing will be predominantly fat. Increasing your muscle mass increases your resting metabolic rate (which means that you burn more calories at rest) as muscle is a metabolically active tissue and your body requires more energy to maintain it!
MEASURING FAT LOSS
Weight loss is measured easily – you are purely looking at a number on the scales and assessing whether it has gone up or down. Fat loss isn’t as simple to measure. We cannot just rely on scale weight alone as we don’t know where the change in weight is coming from – fat mass, muscle mass, fluid or a combination! This is why it is essential to use other methods such as body circumference measurements, photos, body fat calipers or DEXA scans to specifically measure changes in overall body fat.
WHAT’S A REALISTIC FAT LOSS TARGET?
Here’s the reality: you can only lose about 0.5–1% of your body weight in true body fat per week. If you lose much more than that, there’s a high chance it’s from fluid or what we are trying to avoid – muscle loss.
Fat loss is a slower process than losing weight because of the fact that you are targeting the loss of body fat specifically, instead of just lowering your body weight. People who have a high amount of body fat can often lose larger amounts of body fat per week. When someone is already lean and wants to get even leaner, the process is more difficult as there is less fat to lose. The goal is always to eat as much as possible while still slowly losing fat. This will ensure that you lose less muscle, have more energy, perform better in your training sessions, have more flexibility with your diet and be able to enjoy the process more!
So, in order to set yourself up for success – create a safe and realistic fat loss goal for yourself! By targeting fat loss over weight loss you will achieve better results in the end, even if your progress seems a bit slower. We promise it will be worth it!
Need help with losing fat in a sustainable and enjoyable way? Click here to join our Find Your Balance coaching program!