Do You Need to Lose Weight, Fat or Both?

Hello.  This is Carolyn Small.

Have you ever loss weight, say 5, 10, 15 pounds or more and still not look good in that new outfit you bought?  I know I have.  What I’ve learned is that there is a difference between weight loss and fat loss.  Some people think like I once did that if they lose weight they will also lose the fat that they want.  That’s not necessarily the case.  Depending on your particular situation, you may need to lose weight, or fat, or both to reach your fitness goals.  By now you may be asking yourself, “What’s the difference” and “Which one do I need to lose?”  Well, I’m here to help.  Read on.

Measuring weight loss is essential in determining if the weight you’re losing is really coming from fat.  High levels of body fat are belly-fatclosely tied to many of the diseases affecting people today. And, size is not always the best measure. It’s possible to drop weight without affecting fat stores very much.  The result is sagging skin, no muscle tone, and a level of body fat that leads to a number of health risks.  What the body looks like on the outside can be very misleading when looking at muscle to fat ratios.  And keep in mind that when you step on your bathroom scale every morning, what you will be reading is weight loss not fat loss.

Let’s begin by defining weight loss & fat loss so you know what I mean.

  • Weight Loss. You want to lower your body-weight, the sum weight of your bones, muscles, organs, body fat, etc.
  • Fat Loss. You want to lower your body fat, the amount of fat your body carries.  For healthy goals see table below.

Problems with Weight Loss. If you want to lose weight, it’s most likely because you carry too much fat.  There are people who must lose weight, like athletes before a competition, but most want really want to lose fat.  So stop weighing yourself.

  • Unreliable. Your body-weight can fluctuate daily since it’s influenced by your stomach/bowel/bladder content, water loss/retention, muscle loss/gain, fat loss/gain, ….
  • Irrelevant. 2 people with similar height can weigh the same, but look completely different because one has lower body fat than the the other.

So just what is considered a healthy percent body fat?  The table below reflects the recommendations of the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health:

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Make Sure You Lose Fat, Not Muscle? 5 lbs muscle takes less space than 5 lbs fat.  That means you’ll look slimmer at the same body-weight by building muscle.  Keys to losing fat, not muscle:

  • Get Stronger. Strength training builds muscle & prevents muscle loss.  It also helps sticking to your diet.
  • Eat Healthy. The best way to take off excess fat and still be healthy is by adopting a well-balanced diet.  Eat whole unprocessed foods 90% of the time, eat less starchy carbs, significantly reduce your fat intake and exercise daily.

You can do cardio to speed up fat loss.  But without strength training, cardio will cause muscle loss and you’ll end up skinny, but still have excess body fat…something you will want to avoid.

Remember fat is also a necessary, vital part of our physical make-up.  It is excess body fat that is the big problem. Having excess body fat, being fat, increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, hypertension and many other serious diseases.  And perhaps most serious of all, if you can get more serious than a heart attack or a stroke, is that excess body fat is being linked to many more types of cancers than previously known.  Excess fat is bad, bad,very bad!

Hopefully the above will help as you design your Healthy Lifestyle Plan.  After putting your Plan into action and sticking with it, check yourself in a couple of weeks.  You may find that you don’t really need to lose weight after all.

I wish you the very best on your quest for losing your excess fat and for achieving a healthy lifestyle.

Feel Good!  Look Good!  And Be Good!



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This policy is valid from 12 November 2009. This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me, C. Small. For questions about this blog, please contact This blog does not accept any form of cash advertising, sponsorship, or paid topic insertions. However, since I am an Affiliate of the advertisers in this blog, if you buy something I will get paid, not much but I’m retired and need whatever I can get. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or post made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content. Even though I receive compensation for the advertisements, I always give my honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog may not be my own, but I agree with them. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. This blog does contain content which might present a conflict of interest. This content may not always be identified.