Fat Loss vs Weight Loss

What are we talking about?

lately I have had a lot of thoughts about what my clients want from me. Mostly people who are looking to lower their body weight just obsess about the figure on the scales. but there is so much more to it than just 1 set of numbers. Lets look into this and why we need to focus on a certain key information to know if we are truly bettering ourselves and improving our quality of life! because that’s why we do this, to help people look and live better!

So what is the difference?

When we talk about weight loss we are looking at a reduction in your overall bodyweight, this is your total body mass. This includes your lean mass, fat, organs, bone minerals, tendons, muscle and connective tissue, everything.

With fat percentage we are simply talking about the amount of fat that is being held on the body at any one time. This fat is used as energy storage in adiphose tissue, if you don’t use this energy you retain the fat. You accumulate fat when you are in a calorie surplus, so you are taking in more energy that is being stored, usually under the skin or around your organs, than you are using for bodily function.

If you look as weight loss vs fat loss from the outside you can see visually that two people who weigh exactly the same on the scale but have 20% body fat compared to 40% body fat, for example, the person with 40% body fat will appear much larger in size. In this case you would look for fat loss over weight loss as the fat is the issue here, without this your natural bodyshape will become visable.

A boxer or weight lifting competitors may need to drop overall bodyweight in order to contend in a competition that has weight divisions, this may  require a quick drop in weight with minimal time and require a large calorie deficit.

How to lose body fat and weight?

Through diet

Loosing body fat is about balance. we use diet tracking and a balanced nutritional diet to make sure you are in a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit means you are taking in less fuel than your body requires to operate, allowing the body to burn fat stores to give you that much needed energy to get you through your day! If you drop your calorie intake too low you risk you body burning muscle tissue as you go into a catabolic state, yes your body weight will drop overall but so will your energy levels, strength and muscle definition.

It is so important that we ensure maximum protein intake throughout this process so the muscles can recover as efficiently as possible! The last thing you want is to be loosing weight and feeling weaker as a result! Generally when we are looking to lose fat we would be looking for our diets to consist of about  30% protein, 45% carbs and 25% fat, but this can be calculated by your body type, night and exercise level to give you an exact macro split. A really good tool we personal trainers use is myfitnesspal. Mix up your vegetables to ensure you have a good range of nutrients which will help keep you feeling in tip top shape! Think colour of your plate, it should always be a good mix of greens, yellows, reds and more.

Lets talk about those calorie allowances. I would recommend looking to drop 1-2 pounds of fat per week, this is a safe amount to lose and only requires you to be in slight calorie deficit, using an app like myfitness pals does all the calculations for you! This will total to around 1% of your overall weight a week so will really add up as you go along. Safe and Sustainable. As plateaus come you will need to adjust you calories slightly or up your exercise! performing a huge drop in calorie intake will result in your body going into that unwanted catabolic state, yeah you will lose weight but is it could be muscle and not that pesky body fat, and where do you go when your body plateaus? you are already starving yourself, not sustainable and will only lead to a crash and putting the weight back on, we see it every day in our industry.

Through exercise

A good mix of resistance training and cardio is the best way to burn those calories. Resistance training is used as when you put your muscles under strain they have to repair and adapt, this requires your body to work harder for a longer period of time while you undergo the recovery process! this all takes extra calories! If just starting out at the gym give the machines a go doing a chest press, bicep curls, leg press, seated row and shoulder press after your cardio session. try 4 sets of 10 reps on each to get going, then build up from there implementing different equipment, weights and circuits. Circuit are my favourite tool as you can mix up body weight and resistance exercises into a high intensity, full body workout. Try out my medicine ball full body workout here.

Cardio is a great tool too, using HIIT (high intensity interval training) and really getting that heart rate as high as possible is a great way to ensure you are using your time optimally by burning the most calories you can! Make your time work for you by pushing yourself and getting the most results from your work! try running at a normal pace on a treadmill for 30 seconds then going up to a fast pace for 45 seconds and repeat 8x. The advantages of this are it kick starts your repair cycle so you burn more fat after your workout is over, increases metabolism and saves you time! cardio can be an element in overall weight loss, especially if you are not fuelled up through high energy food when you start! your weight may drop through muscle loss and dehydration, be smart!

Join a class like Pure Build or Pure kettlebells, this mixes both HIIT training and resistance training! Saving you time and burning a massive amount of calories! Stronger and fitter.

How to track weight loss and fat loss

To track weight loss is very simple, you can just use a weighing scale and hop on every couple of weeks to see where your weight is at, logging it and seeing where it goes. To track your body fat you can use calipers to measure the fat on various body parts or use an electronic bodyfat and BMI reader. At Pure gym we are lucky enough to have the Bodytrax machine, this gives you a full body composition breakdown, tracking your weight, muscle percentage, fat percentage and much more!

A healthy fat percentage for females is 21-33%, while for males 21-10%. Weight wise is dependent on age and height. Always look at your body type before setting your goal as this will make it achievable. If unsure, as a personal trainer and they will help you calculate and set your targets!

look to do your weight and fat/muscle percentage checks every 2 to 3 weeks. if you do it every time you see a scale you may find that through many reasons including hormone imbalances, the food you’ve eaten that day or even time of day, your results will be up and down. This is a natural occurrence but could lead to you becoming demotivated. This is a process and you must keep a positive outlook throughout! As soon as you start looking at yourself and seeing results, that will be motivation enough!

When working with my clients I always stress that overall body weight is low down on our priorities. The MOST important information we have is fat percentage and muscle percentage. if your fat is going down and muscle is going up, you are loosing in the right way! this way you are going to be looking thinner and more defined in no time! The mirror will tell you all you need to know.


As I tell my clients, the goal is to lower fat percentage, your body weight will drop over time but you need to do it in a healthy, sustainable way, giving you the most energy to be able to perform in the gym and every day life. looking for weight loss will not give you this and will leave you feeling tired and demotivated, slipping back into those habits that got you to the point of change in the first place. Stay positive, get stronger and NEVER starve yourself, that is nooooooo fun.


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