Do you want to lose weight? Most people would answer this question with a resounding YES! If you answered yes, I would venture to say what you really want to do is lose fat.
Anyone can lose weight. All you have to do is stop eating (which is not what I recommend). The point is that yes, you will lose weight, but the weight you lose will be muscle, fat, bone, water, and every other part of your body.
The real goal for your weight loss journey should be to preserve as much muscle as possible, or even gain some muscle mass, all while losing as much fat as possible.
*Jumpstart your fat loss by downloading the Fat Burning Guide!*
Maybe that leads to weight loss on the scale, but it might not. Either way, you’re going to have a much-improved body composition.
Why weight loss is not what you want
As we age, before we hit 30 years old in fact, we begin to lose muscle. This is a big problem because that muscle mass burns fat. When our focus is on weight loss only, we literally just become mushier versions of ourselves.
Here’s what happens when you lose weight rather than fat: Instead of being a tight toned athletic shape, if you are a pear shape, you will simply become a smaller pear shape. And a mushier one too (loss of muscle means loss of tone).
Following the “eat less, exercise more model” is playing the weight loss game.
Not only does it not produce the desired shape change you are after, but it has an ugly side effect: weight gain rebound. There is a reason the term “yo-yo diet” is so well-known.
As soon as you start eating again, good or bad, there is more weight because you are eating again.
So what’s the difference between weight loss & fat loss?
We seem to use both terms interchangeably, however, they are very different.
Let’s start by defining weight loss & fat loss so you know what I mean here.
- Weight Loss. You want to lower your body-weight, the sum weight of your bones, muscles, organs, body fat, water, etc.
- Fat Loss. You want to lower your body fat, the amount of fat your body carries. Healthy goals are 10-15% body fat for men and 15-20% for women.
Losing Muscle Makes Your Weight Loss Harder
I view muscle as the #1 fat loss aid on the market. It boosts your metabolism and it burns fat at all hours of the day – even when you’re sleeping, and that’s not an exaggeration.
Unfortunately, most people are so focused on weight that they don’t prioritize muscle maintenance. So they over restrict calories, go through the motions with their strength training, and then proceed to lose a good portion of their lean body mass.
Once that happens you have to cut more calories in order to maintain an energy deficit. And that further results in more muscle loss. And the cycle continues until you’re eating so few calories and nutrients that you feel weak in both body and mind.
If you lose 20 pounds but 10 pounds of that was muscle, that’s not a very successful weight loss attempt. Yes, you’ll be smaller, but you’ll also have a slower metabolism, will be weaker, and might even have a worse body composition than when you started.
If you want to lose weight, it’s most likely because you carry too much fat. When we focus on weight loss or the number on the scale, we start talking about our relationship to gravity, bone mass, water, what we possibly ate the day before, etc. rather than strictly fat.
So stop weighing yourself.
- The scale is 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, … You’ll have no idea what’s going on.
- The scale is irrelevant. 2 people with similar height can weigh the same, but look completely different because one has lower body fat than the other. Your progress is not measured by a number on the scale.
It’s time to get rid of the scale.
Here’s How The Weight Scale Can Mislead You:
Clothes, mirrors & pictures don’t lie and either do measurements…but the scale can become your worst enemy by misleading you and killing your motivation.
- Carbs & Water. Carbs bind to water. So eating fewer carbs will make you lose weight: water loss. This is why you lose so much weight on a diet like Atkins/Keto the first 2 weeks: it’s mostly water. Of course, increasing your carb intake will make you gain weight again: which is only water retention.
- Muscle Gains & Fat Loss. You’ll gain muscle and lose fat when you get into strength training; however, the number on the scale may look like you’re not making progress if you don’t see a smaller number. It is true that muscle weighs more than fat and it’s also true that muscle takes up less room in your body than fat which is why you see such a body composition change when you add muscle.
Instead of focusing on a number, it’s time to use different metrics to track your progress.
Take before and after pictures, measure your arms, legs, and waist. These things will give you a much clearer picture of what is going on with your body, instead of the number on the scale.
In Burn Fat and Feast, my clients are encouraged to weigh themselves at the beginning and end of the program. That’s it. If you don’t think you can restrain yourself from consistently stepping on the scale, it’s time to throw it out.
It’s only causing you to lose your motivation, and that’s not helpful.
How to Make Sure You Lose Fat, Not Muscle?
Keys to losing fat, not muscle:
- Get Stronger. Strength training builds muscle & prevents muscle loss. Remember we automatically lose muscle mass as we age, so strength training is essential!
- Eat Healthy. Eat whole unprocessed foods 80% of the time and vary your food intake as well as your macros each day. You can check this by using a method called HEC; this stands for Hunger, Energy, and Cravings. If these are in balance, you are on track to burning fat. In the Burn Fat and FEAST program, we have a systematic and strategic way of maximizing fat loss through effective workouts and nutrition and we even have a FEAST DAY!
How to Prioritize Fat Loss
OK, so you no longer want to just lose weight. You want to lose fat, and you want to maintain as much lean body mass as possible so as to keep your metabolism running optimally.
What does that look like? Here’s what you should be focused on…
- Eat as many calories as possible that still enables you to lose weight. Undereating is a sure way to lose muscle and stall out.
- At least 80% of those calories should come from whole foods that are nutrient dense. Your body needs more than calories. It needs nutrients to run optimally.
- Don’t try to lose weight too fast. The faster you lose weight the higher the percentage of that weight loss will be muscle. If you are losing weight faster than 1 pound a week, you are in danger of losing muscle.
- Try to keep your protein in the 20-30% of total calories range.
- Prioritize strength training. Compound exercises that use more than one muscle group will most efficiently build muscle.
- Minimize the amount of cardio you do. 2 times a week should be plenty!
- Always take before and after photos as well as measure yourself for a better indication of progress.
In the Burn Fat and FEAST program, we always say, strive for Progress over perfection for a long-term sustainable Burn Fat Lifestyle.
The weight loss journey can be a tough one, especially with all of the diets and pills out there promising us results with little (or no) effort. But what we really want, a strong healthy body is only going to come to when we do the right things.
The prioritization of increasing your muscle mass will allow you to get the changes you are looking for without having to worry about gaining back weight or risking your health for the sake of a preferred number.
If you are ready to make your body a fat burning machine, don’t forget to grab the Fat Burning Guide below!Download Fat Burning Guide
What has been the hardest part of your fat loss journey?
Why limit cardio to two per week?
I couldn’t download the Fat Burning Guide – clicking on it just took me to the top of the article.
When done correctly, strength training is way more beneficial to fat loss and changing your body composition than cardio.
The guide seems to be working on our end but you can download here too http://www.burnfatandfeast.com/Fat-Burning-Guide