Weight Loss and Fat Loss - Understanding the Difference
So just great - You stuck to your diet and cut carbs, did a ton of cardio, and you finally fit into those jeans… just to have that muffin top hanging over? Then every time you eat something “forbidden”, or skip that cardio session, five pounds reappear? What gives?
Let’s look at weight loss.
Fast Weight Loss, Weight Loss Pills, Weight Loss Foods, Weight Loss Supplements, and many Weight Loss Programs may make you lighter on your feet fast - but the bad news is they leave you losing weight you really needed to keep…
Yes, cutting carbs grants instant weight loss gratification. Carbohydrates retain three times as much water as proteins and fats. So when you don’t have carbs you are carrying less water and you weigh less. Period
The Bad news about less water is that muscle is 70 percent water, and when your muscles have less water they shrink. This is called atrophy, or muscle loss.
On top of the carb restriction you are probably also trying to eat less in general, which usually means less calorie and macro-nutrient ingestion.
Without enough protein intake your body can’t rebuild muscle. Even worse your body will break down its own protein sources (muscle tissue) to sustain. Double Whammy!
Weight Loss Programs calling for too much cardio is the nail in the fat loss coffin! Strictly focusing on dieting and cardio for fat loss will no doubt yield a drop on the scale. That drop unfortunately will also include some precious muscle mass, leaving you looking like a smaller fat person, aka skinny fat.
Weight Loss = Losing Fat, Losing Water, and Losing Muscle.
Fat Loss = Losing Fat.
Because muscle needs constant energy to maintain itself, the amount of muscle you have directly impacts your metabolism.
Muscle is an active tissue made of living cells containing mitochondria. Mitochondria are the power plants of the cell where fat is converted to energy.
When treated correctly through resistance training and nutrition, muscle will use your fat stores to maintain its integrity, whether you are working out or sleeping.
The more muscle tissue, the more cells. The more cells, the more mitochondria. The more mitochondria, the more energy needed. The more energy needed, the more fat burned!
Therefore, it easy to understand that less muscle tissue you have the fewer calories, and less fat you will burn on a daily basis.
Muscle also directly affects how well your body utilizes nutrients. When you lose muscle, the nutrients you do take in are less likely to be uploaded into your muscle cells and therefore turned into fat!
All Counterproductive wouldn’t you say?
I want to lose fat - How do I fix this problem?
Solid Nutrition and Strength Training. PERIOD
Strength training builds muscle and prevents muscle loss. Proper nourishment in the right quantities guarantees nutrient upload and cell regeneration. Together, Nutrition and Strength Training turn your body into an efficient machine that utilizes fat without losing muscle.
And please don’t give me the “I’m scared to get bulky” spill! Do not worry - You won’t! Even if you were a freak of nature and could pack on pounds of muscle easily and quickly… Let’s get back to those jeans - that fat lapping over the waistband IS bulky! It’s bulk FAT! Which looks better to you?
If you really want to set your body up to have a high resting metabolism and burn fat all day long, for the rest of your years, condition your body with resistance training, and do it regularly.
Mix up your training routines, challenging your muscles to respond with a variety of movements. Focus on consistently making progress. Schedule your workout times, and purposefully train your muscles, increasing the intensity of your workouts as your strength progresses.
By maintaining a regular workout regimen and proper nutrition, you will master fat loss, reach your goals, and look fabulous in those jeans!
Maughan, RJ. (2003). Impact of Mild Dehydration on wellness and exercise performance, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 57, Suppl 2, S19–S23. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601897
Mitch,William E. M.D., and Goldberg, Alfred L. Ph.D. (2006). Mechanisms of Muscle Wasting - the Role of the Ubiquitin - Proteasome Pathway, N Engl J Med 335:1897-1905 DOI: 10.1056/NEJM199612193352507
Enoka,R.M. (1988). Muscle Strength and It's Development, Journal of Sports Medicine 6: 146. doi:10.2165/00007256-198806030-00003