Weight Loss vs Fat Loss

Weight Loss vs Fat Loss? Here Is What You Should Know

Written By : Dr Ruby Shah   ✓ Fact Checked

What is the big difference between weight loss and fat loss? Knowing this could be the key to your weight loss success and get the results you want, rather than just a number on the scale.

(Last Updated on April 22, 2024)

Do you often struggle to achieve your desired physique?

You are not alone; statistics show that almost half of American adults are struggling to lose weight.

Well, there could be a lot of reasons behind your struggle, the most important being lack of know-how of what weight you are losing.

For instance, if I ask you if you want to lose weight, you are probably thinking yes, of course. But I am confident that what you mean is you want to lose fat.

Think about it!

Most people go into diets, cut down calories and enrol in the gym intending to lose fat but end up losing weight and are actually not fit.

Why we hear you ask; anybody can lose weight by merely not eating, but what weight are you losing?

You can lose body fat, water, muscle or bone mass.

Losing both muscle and fat mass might not be the best thing; you may appear smaller instead of leaner.

Would you feel better if you weigh less but feel flabby?

This tells you there is a significant disparity between weight loss and fat loss.

Read next: Best Supplements For Weight Loss

The Thin Line Between Weight Loss And Fat Loss

weight loss fat loss comparison

Most people use these terms to mean the same thing, but they are very different.

  • Weight loss

If you want to lose weight1, you are looking at muscle, water, bone mass, fat and organs.

Generally, weight loss can involve losing fat, losing water and losing muscle.

Your focus may be shedding off fat, but you may end up losing some muscle due to poor dieting (very-low-calorie diet) and improper training (long hours of cardio).

This may lead to:

  • Poor fitness
  • Poor strength and performance
  • Premature ageing
  • Fat loss

If you are looking to lose fat, it means you want to reduce the amount of body fat you have.

Regrettably, most people focus on their weight that they forget to maintain their muscle.  When you go on extremes in cutting calories and working out, your muscles start to shrink, and this means a slower metabolism.

This then makes it hard to progress in your weight loss journey.

Muscle is the ultimate aspect that makes weight loss successful. Focus on safeguarding muscles and even adding some more as you lose fat 2.

The more muscle you have, the more fat you burn.

Here is why; muscles have mitochondria, where energy is produced. This means that more muscle mass equals more mitochondria, hence, increased fat metabolism.

You should expect the following benefits

  • A toned body
  • More strength and endurance
  • Improved immunity

The Scale Does Not Tell You Anything; It Is Unreliable

weight loss scale

If you are looking to lose weight [1], you probably have too much fat.

Most dieters celebrate when the number on the scale goes down.

Often, they focus on how much weight they want to lose and go for scales to watch their progress.

But, let’s look at these scenarios:

  • Miss meals in a day = weigh less
  • Eat fewer carbs in a week = weigh less
  • Don’t drink water in a day = weigh less
  • Lose a leg = weigh less
  • Fast for six hours = weigh less

In all the scenarios you weigh less but do you look better?

Therefore, tracking your progress should not only involve weighing yourself.

In fact, stop weighing yourself.

The number on the scale may not give you a clear picture of what is happening to your body.

The scale will not tell you if your clothes fit better or if you look better.

Your weight will fluctuate daily due to water intake, type of food or amount of food even though your body fat does not change.

Thus, do not rely so much on the scale but use other methods to measure your progress including

  • A measuring tape to see if your belly is shrinking.
  • How your clothes fit.
  • Take progress photos.
  • Measure the circumference of various body parts including arms, thighs, waist, chest and hips.

One sign that you have lost body fat is when your scale does not change in two weeks, but your waist circumference drops by around 3 centimetres.

Alternately, you may add some pounds in a month following strength training but fit in your new smaller dress.

Focus On Fat Loss And Muscle Gain

fat loss and muscle gain

As per now, your goal should not be hitting lower numbers on the scale but losing body fat and gaining muscle3.

The key is finding a balance between diet and exercise.

First things first: do not go on a diet.

Here’s why; you are likely to go on crash diets that might result in loss of muscle mass.

The number of calories differs in every individual. It is dependent on your weight, height, activity level and age.

But, on average, a man needs 2000 calories while a woman needs 1500 calories per day to lose one pound.

There is food, but when it comes to fat loss, there is the right food!

We can start outlining a super-duper fat loss diet –go for whole carbs, eat more veggies, prioritize protein and healthy fats- but, that won’t do much for you.

Besides, we could talk about the type of strength training and cardio, but that will not help you either.

The most important thing is to approach your journey from a fat loss mindset and focus on constant and straightforward behavioural changes.

For examples, dieters will tell you to reduce snacking baked cookies, for instance, before lunch. But, you know this anyway.

They tell you to cut those cravings completely. But how about simple steps; you could reduce your cookies to two tomorrow and accompany it with a bowl of salad.

The next day, try taking an avocado before the cookies, you will find yourself full even to taste the cookies . Thus, you may end up ditching the cookies anyway.

But remember diet is everything in fat loss. No matter the intensity of your workouts, if your diet is weak, you will not lose fat and keep it off.

Here are some simple tips:

  • Switch to strength training.
  • Take enough calories for your body size.
  • Go for whole-meal carbs –low on the GI scale.
  • Eat more protein.
  • Choose more fibre-rich foods.
  • Don’t starve.
  • Eat-in moderation –all varieties.
  • Add more veggie and fruit servings.


If you are losing 10 pounds in a week, you are probably losing more than fat; think of muscles and water weight.

You should lose at least 2 pounds in a week if you are burning fat.

So, don’t let the number on the scale scare you; tonic weight loss is not what you should be thinking about.

Besides, you can accelerate fat loss by using the best fat burning supplements in the market.

Read next: 21 Foods That Burn Belly Fat Fast

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