Fat Loss vs. Losing Weight
Fat Loss vs. Losing Weight
Everyone seems to want to lose weight these days to improve their health and appearance. Simply losing weight can lead to problems because people don’t differentiate between healthy weight loss and rapid or unsafe weight loss.
The focus should be on fat loss, as this will give you the most benefits in health and appearance. Measuring your body composition will enable you to determine if your nutrition and exercise plan are working properly.
When you lose weight, you lose a combination of fat, muscle, and fluid. There may also be some loss of bone density as well. This is the result of diets that emphasize cutting calories without regard to the quality of food you are eating.
Healthy weight loss requires eating and exercising in a way that will allow you to keep as much lean muscle mass as possible and burn as much fat as possible during the process of losing weight. This is proper weight loss, plain and simple!
Please understand and keep this in mind. This is one of THE most important things I will ever communicate on this site! You MUST approach losing weight in the right way, or you may be losing your health in the process. Fat loss is the key to healthy weight loss.
What is Body Composition?
Body composition is the distribution of your weight in muscle, fat, bone, and fluids. Bodyfat percentage is the percent of your bodyweight that is fat. Your goal should be to reduce this percentage and achieve significant fat loss. See the table below for reference:
|Obese||32% plus||25% plus|
When you know what your body composition is, you can then plan an eating and exercise routine to improve it. Remember that there is no such thing as an ideal weight! There is only an ideal body composition for each person, based on your muscle to fat ratio.
You need to maximize lean body mass, and fat loss. We are not talking about losing ALL fat, just getting your bodyfat down to a healthy and reasonable level, as your body will always need to carry some fat for necessary and vital bodily functions.
When this is accomplished, you will be at a weight that is natural and comfortable. There will be no need to look at the scale, because you will look and feel great, and be in optimal health. This is what healthy weight loss is all about.
Only athletes who compete in weight classes need to be concerned about what they actually weigh on the scale. If you are not competing in a sport that has weight classes, then the use of the scale is really not necessary.
Measuring Body Composition
Body composition can be measured in a number of ways, some of which are not really practical for the average person. The two easiest ways are the use of skinfold calipers, and bioelectrical impedance units. These are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. Knowing your bodyfat percentage is important for healthy weight loss.
Skinfold measurement needs to be done by someone other than yourself, as it requires reaching areas of the body such as your back, that you can’t reach yourself. A person using the calipers needs to know what sites on the body to measure, and what formula to use to calculate bodyfat from the skinfold results.
You can use the bioelectrical impedance units yourself, as it is simply held in your hands and registers a result on an LCD display. It’s not quite as accurate as some other methods, but accurate enough to tell you if you are progressing in your fat loss efforts.
When you first get your bodyfat measured, it would be best to have a qualified person do it using calipers, establish a baseline, compare it to what you get using an inexpensive electronic analyzer and just use the analyzer as a way to gauge your progress.
Prevent Muscle Loss When Losing Weight
Healthy weight loss above all means keeping as much muscle as possible during the weight loss process. This and focusing on fat loss, is always the way to go for safe weight loss and maximum health.
Your level of lean muscle mass directly determines how long you will live and how healthy you will be, so please keep this in mind when dieting. Don’t believe me? Let’s use a couple of examples.
Ever see a person who is suffering from or has died of cancer or AIDS? How do they look? Are they robust and healthy looking? Of course not! They have lost a great deal of weight and look very sick and fragile, the opposite of healthy weight loss.
It’s not the disease that kills them; it is the muscle loss that accompanies these diseases that caused their deaths. That does not mean that muscle loss will cause those diseases, but it is always is a symptom, and will eventually result in death if it is not halted.
Here is a medical fact. If you lose more than 40% of your lean muscle mass, you will die! You cannot survive at that point. It does not matter how you lost the muscle, it will affect you the same way. Keeping as much muscle as possible while causing fat loss is your number one priority for healthy weight loss!
The average person loses muscle gradually as they age. Some muscle loss is unavoidable due to the aging process, but the so-called yo-yo, or crash dieting that many people do can accelerate this process, leading to an unhealthy loss of lean muscle tissue.
The maximum rate of safe weight loss is about two pounds per week. You may lose slower than this, but shouldn’t exceed this rate. Your diet and exercise program should be designed to gradually reduce your weight by reducing your bodyfat levels.
Action Steps for Healthy Weight Loss
Keep in mind that healthy weight loss is not just a process, it is a change in habits and lifestyle, with fat loss and body composition being the key factors in attaining a comfortable weight that will compliment your health and appearance.
Return from Healthy Weight Loss to Antiaging Exercise