Weight Loss vs Fat Loss – It’s Time To Ignore The Scales


By: Stuart Carter, Dip. PT, Precision Nutrition 1,

C.O.O., The Fit Father Project

weight loss vs fat loss

If you’re thinking about trying to lose weight then you’re not alone. But what's the difference between weight loss vs fat loss?

Research suggests that between 2013 and 2019, 49% of Americans have tried to lose weight.

Not all of them have had success and most of them didn't know how to distinguish between weight loss vs fat loss.

As with many things in life, not all weight loss is the same, and there’s a lot more to fitness and good health than a number on a scale.

Let’s face it, the trigger to you first considering losing weight was probably seeing yourself in the mirror, a photo, or even having had a health scare.

It’s enough to make anyone think about their own mortality.  That’s a powerful reason to start your new weight loss regime.

But, anyone can lose weight simply by cutting back on their food; if you reduce your intake enough you’ll see the number on the scales falling.

But, this doesn’t mean you’re healthy and it doesn’t mean that you’re winning the battle against fat!

There’s a big difference between losing fat and losing weight.

It’s time to discover the truth about weight loss vs fat loss; it will help you to achieve your goal of better health.

The Weight Of Muscle – Understanding Your Body Composition

Your body is made up of many different components. The biggest of these components are muscle, fat, water, bone, organs and tissues.

The exact composition of your body will depend on your fitness level, but it will be in the region of:

  • Muscle 30-55%
  • Fat 10-30%
  • Bone – 15%
  • Organs & tissues – 10-15%
  • Water – 10-25% (this doesn’t include the water in your muscles and fat)

Lose a little of any of these and the scales will go down.

But, you don’t want to lose organs, tissue, bone, or even muscle! You want to lose fat.

Don’t forget that muscle is much denser and takes up less space, that’s why people with low body fat tend to have visible muscle definition while those with low muscle and higher fat levels are simply skinny.

Being skinny should not be your goal, if you’re skinny you may not have much muscle definition and are likely to be carrying more fat than someone who has lost fat and maintained muscle.

Your body naturally stores fat when you consume more calories than you need, and this fat often shows first around your waist.

But, what you can’t see is that the fat also builds up around your organs, making it harder for them to work efficiently.

The strain on organs due to excess fat has been linked with an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other age-related diseases.

But, that’s not the only reason you should lose fat. Losing fat will make you healthier and more energetic.

Perhaps more importantly in the battle of weight loss vs fat loss is the fact that muscle actually burns more calories than fat.

Maintaining your body muscle means you’ll burn more calories on a daily basis and this can actually help to prevent fat gain.

How You Can Appear to Lose Weight – But it’s Not Fat

Losing fat means you’ll keep your muscles and this will help you to stay energetic, healthy, and burn calories.

That’s good, but let's face it, once you start thinking about losing weight, you’ll want to see the scales going downward.

In fact, by reducing your food intake, you can see a difference in the scales almost immediately. But, this is likely to be water weight.

Your body is approximately 60% water, simply reducing salt intake and increasing water intake will encourage your body to release fluid.

This can show as weight loss but it’s water, not fat and it may be temporary.

Of course, simply reducing your food intake will result in weight loss.

You’ve probably heard that consuming 500 fewer calories a day will equate to a pound of fat loss a week.

Unfortunately, this is not exactly true. It will equate to a pound of weight loss, but there is no guarantee that this is fat.

This is where the scales have an issue in the battle of weight loss vs fat loss.

The scales show your weight loss but they don’t show what you’ve lost.

Despite what you may have heard, a pound of fat weighs the same as a pound of muscle, they are both a pound!

Your Body Fat Percentage

So, now you know that the goal is to maintain muscle while losing fat.

In a moment you’ll learn how to verify that you are losing fat and not muscle. This is important because it’s not easy to assess and monitor your body fat percentage.

There are several methods, such as taking measurements of various parts of your body or using a DEXA scan.

But, while some of these methods are more accurate than others, they are all estimates.

The best you can realistically hope for is that the tests will show a trend in the right direction.

Assessing Your New Lifestyle

The weight loss vs fat loss battle can still be won!

You just need to ditch your scales and start using the following methods to assess your body composition.

Don’t forget that a toned body is healthy but can weigh more than a skinny body. Your aim should be the toned body.

Here’s what you should be checking on a regular basis:

Measuring Yourself

Once a week you need to get the tape measure out and measure your body.

This will help you to identify real progress.

Measure your biceps, chest, 2 inches above your belly button, your hips, and the middle of your thighs.

If you’re changing your food intake to lose weight and haven’t started exercising then you should see these measurements going down.

However, if you’re undertaking resistance training, its possible that the muscles will be growing and the measurements will go up.

Clothing Fit

You know how your clothes fit you. If you’re losing weight your clothes should start to fit you better, or even become loose.

That’s generally a good sign that you’re losing weight.

But, as well as assessing how your clothes look, you should look at your body as well.

If you’re losing fat and not muscle you’ll start to notice your muscles are more defined, or at least easier to feel.

It can be beneficial to take photos every week; this will help you to identify where your body is changing.

A photo will allow you to see the changes in your body but you must be consistent, this means taking the photo at the same time every week.

Set a schedule and take the photo first thing in the morning, on the same day, every week.

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Energy Levels

It may sound peculiar but, if you’re winning the weight loss vs fat loss battle you’ll find that you have more energy.

This is connected to the fact that you’re lighter and the fact that muscle burns more calories than fat.

In short, your body needs the energy you’re consuming and doesn’t need to store it as fat.

This avoids the sugar high and low that often comes with, and just after, eating.

If you don’t have the low then your energy levels will be noticeably better.

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Another option is to record the amount of time you spend doing a specific event.

This could be how long it takes you to run a mile, or whether you can lift more weight than last time.

Improvements in your workouts show that you’re building muscle and burning fat.

If you’re not sure where to start then try this free workout.

Boosting Your Metabolism To Win The Weight Loss vs Fat Loss Battle

The simple fact is that you can’t lose fat by exercising, no matter how much you do.

To successfully lose fat you need to look at what you’re eating.

However, fad diets are one of the biggest issues facing anyone trying to lose fat.

The diets can seem great and are often celebrity-endorsed. But, once you stop the diet, which is usually hard to stick to, there’s a good chance you’ll put the weight back on.

Instead, you need to be looking at making lifestyle changes.

Do these slowly and you’ll be living a healthier lifestyle, without even feeling like you’ve sacrificed anything!

Eating Right

It’s time to take a proper look at what you eat.

This is the fundamental change you need to make as you’ll never be able to out-exercise a bad diet.

You need to stop eating processed foods and concentrate on things that aren’t in packages.

Processed foods are generally full of salt and sugar, making them addictive as well as more likely to help you pack fat on.

The biggest problem with addictive tastes is that you’ll find it is very easy to eat more than you mean to.

When you do that you’re just consuming extra calories, which are likely to be stored as fat.


Avoiding processed foods is a great way to start, but you’ll probably find it easier to monitor and maintain healthy eating habits if you adopt the perfect plate approach to food.

Every plate of food you have should be ½ vegetable, ¼ protein, and ¼ carbohydrates.

With a little help from us, you can master this approach to food very easily, and it will serve you well for life.

If you want to know more about this then join the FF30Xprogram today.

Sleep to Win The Weight Loss vs Fat Loss Fight!

Your body needs 6-8 hours of sleep every night.

There’s a good reason for this, aside from feeling fresher in the morning.

When you sleep your body repairs damaged cells and balances hormone levels.

This reduces your appetite and increases the feeling of being full, both of which will help you to eat less.

Don’t forget that the bottom line in weight loss is to eat fewer calories than you need.

Feeling full will help you to achieve this; you’ll just need to understand how many calories you actually need.

The average man needs 2,500 calories a day, eating less than this will result in weight loss.

But, it will only result in fat loss instead of muscle or water, if you change your eating habits and start exercising.

Check out your maintenance calories here.

Exercise – Resistance Training

Changing your eating habits is essential to losing weight; you simply can’t out-exercise a bad diet. But, exercise is still important!

And not just any exercise.

Resistance training has been shown to increase muscle mass.

The reason is simple, resistance can be created by lifting weights, completing bodyweight movements, or even using resistance bands.

This places a strain on your muscles and causes tiny tears.

As the tears heal, your muscles will grow stronger.

Giving the muscle fibers time to repair is also the reason that you should wait 48 hours between training the same muscles, it allows them time to heal.

If they don’t have this time, you’re more likely to have an injury.

Final Thoughts To Understand Weight Loss vs Fat Loss

Losing weight is good and that means taking a look at your current eating habits and changing them.

By adopting the perfect plate approach you’ll still be able to enjoy food and have a new habit that will last you for life.

But, to boost your health instead of just watching the scales, you need to start exercising.

Cardio exercise is good, but it’s hard to tell if you’re burning fat or muscle, that’s the crux of the weight loss vs fat loss battle, knowing what you’re burning off.

The best way to ensure you’re losing fat is to work your muscles, that’s where the resistance training comes in.

It can seem complicated but it doesn’t need to be.

Join the FF30X program today and gain access to hundreds of recipe ideas. That will help you get on track with your food.

Check it out and try out the various exercise suggestions to start building muscle, something you’ll be able to assess by looking at your body and measuring the key points.

Don’t chuck your scales, they can help you, but don’t rely on them completely. They can’t tell the difference between healthy fat loss and just weight loss.

And remember, the FF30X is more than just a program, it’s a brotherhood of men, all supporting each other!


Stuart Carter Dip. PT, Precision Nutrition 1

C.O.O., The Fit Father Project

Stuart gained his Diploma in Personal Training & Sports Medicine through Premier Global, back in 2001. In 2018, he completed his Level 1 Precision Nutrition qualification.

Throughout his career in Fitness, Stuart has trained hundreds of clients, worked in almost every position in the industry, and ran his own successful training studio.

After a hiatus away from the Fitness industry, working in Corporate Management and Finance, Stuart returned to what he loves… Fitness! This return led to a chance meeting with Dr. Balduzzi, and a place in the Fit Father Project team.

Brotherhood Nickname: The Fit Brit
Bragging Rights: 18 Years in the fitness industry, Author of ‘The Easy Fitness Guide', Father of 4 boys and Husband to a Venezuelan beauty.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on weight loss vs fat loss.


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