Is weight loss the same as fat loss?

It seems that the subject of weight loss is almost everywhere; in every magazine, book or television advert. All proudly proclaiming that if you are such and such a height or dress size then you are either the ideal weight or you are OVERWEIGHT. My first real question to all this hype and pressure behind weight loss would be; how can so many body types and shapes possibly fit into the same sizing criteria?

I mean come on now, you can’t tell me a guy who weighs 13 stones and doesn’t exercise, watches the television all day is as healthy as some guy who is 13 stones and the same height and exercises on a regular basis?

Or we could look at this from a different angle. What if we took the same two men and analysed their body composition? Would they be of identical make up if they both weigh the same and are the same height? Highly unlikely, but that is what the media is telling us with statements like ‘You need to be 8 stones in weight if you are 5’ 4″ tall.’ Or ‘To fit into the latest fashion you’ve just got to be a size 10 or less’

Okay so let’s put these guys on the scales and do some analysis. Low and behold there is a difference, a large difference. True they are both the same weight, height and age for that matter, but their body composition is very different. The sedentary man is 35% body fat, on the other hand the man who exercises on a regular basis is 20% body fat, this tells us that of those same 13 stones, man number one is carrying and extra 27 lbs of body fat – that’s nearly two stones more.

weight loss

Easy to see which one is the healthier of the two. But body fat is not just the fat that you can see; around the waist, thighs, bottom and chest. It is also around your internal organs and in your blood stream. Not really the recipe for a good healthy long life is it.

Now lets say that our sedentary man has taken the hint, crumbled under the pressure put on him from all around and decided to go on a crash diet. He’s put up photos of guys with six packs and sworn that he will achieve the same masculine physique in a number of weeks. To do this he shall follow the common guidelines of starving yourself and denying any treats, for the total duration of the diet.

Where has he got this information from? From those readily available magazines that we all love to read. You’ve seen them ‘Lose dress size in a week’ or ‘Lose a stone in 14 days’. Any qualified and knowledgeable nutritionist or personal trainer will tell you that this kind of advice is wrong and can be very damaging to one’s health. And if that is not a good enough not to follow their advice – the long term success rates of these diets are very low.

Okay let’s get back to our sedentary fellow. In the first three days he loses 6 lbs in weight – fantastic he thinks. So on he continues, but he’s a little tired and more than a little stressed by this point. Not only is he losing weight but he is also urinating an extra litre of fluid a day. Even still 6 lbs is a lot and if he continues he will be guaranteed success – or so he thinks. Any guesses what this weight loss is? Because it definitively is not fat, the very stuff he wants to get rid of.

It is in fact water, glycogen and muscle tissue and possibly a tiny portion of fat for good measure. Just a second, doesn’t his body need all this water, glycogen and muscle that he has lost? Of course it does. Water is used for nearly every bodily functional that occurs and is required for optimum hydration. Glycogen is necessary for supplying the muscles and brain with vital energy. And without muscle tissue, well he’ll never burn off a great deal of fat and will steadily become weaker. His body will be in a constant hypoglycaemic state.

Notice that I made mention to muscle tissue burning of fat, well you may be interested to know that a muscle cell will use over eighteen times more calories than a fat cell in any given day. So by starving your body or going on low calorie diets, you are actively encouraging the loss of vital muscle tissue. This is why you get a lot of slim people which actually have quite a lot of body fat, supple muscle or lack of tone.

The easy conclusion is, if the weight loss is made up of a reduction in body fat then weight loss is good, if it is made of necessary elements and tissue then its very bad. So before you reach for the magazine diet next time just think, contact a professional who knows what they are talking about. Get an eating and exercise plan that is tailor made for YOU and nobody else, it is the only real way to get success.