Monday, 22 February 2016

FITNESS 101: LOSING WEIGHT vs LOSING FAT

weight loss, muscle, weight loss vs fat loss, losing weight vs losing fat, abs
Someone told me that love my fitness posts and find them pretty useful so I figured I would start the week with one! And before we go far, let me clarify that I didn't mis-title the post, there is a difference between losing weight and losing fat and if that surprises you, don't worry because a lot of people do not know the difference. Fact: in the pictures above (excuse the fact that these are taken on what is now antiquated technology so the quality is suspicious), my weight is the exact same in both pictures! Which always used to confound me because I looked significantly smaller in the picture on the right than on the left yet the scale never budged which was incredibly frustrating but then over time I started understanding the mechanics behind fat loss vs weight loss and the understanding made me look at working out differently.

I'm going to make a bold assumption here and say that a lot of people (male and female) want to lose weight and ultimately, look good naked. That's pretty much most people's fitness goals. Spoiler: losing weight is really easy to achieve! Weight loss is simply making sure that the calories that go into your body are less than the the calories you expend while doing exercise and going about living. The simple math is that, you eat 2000 calories but you burn 2500, the outcome here is that you will lose weight. Simples. The science about weight loss is that you are losing mass i.e the weight of your body is reducing in various forms - water loss, tissue, muscle etc. Which is a bit of a problem for how you look(assuming your weight loss goal is to look tight and toned). I know so many people who workout a lot but never really change how they look. Yeah sure, they will be lighter on the scale but their actual physique doesn't change and that's because they are concentrating on losing weight. In fitness speak, it's called being 'skinny fat' (I won't bore you with the official medical term). It's not the greatest term in the world because it seems really stupid, like how can a person possibly be simultaneously skinny and fat but once you really think about it practically, it makes sense.

Ever been to the beach and there was someone (man or woman) who wasn't overweight but they weren't fit either? So essentially said person is carrying some fat on the body but doesn't have a lot of muscle mass or contours to the body- this is what 'skinny fat' is (see picture above on left for reference). So going back to the cover picture- the main difference is the amount of muscle mass that I have in both pictures (read: my body fat was significantly lower than in the first). I didn't actually know this when I started weight training but what I was doing was losing fat by changing my body composition i.e I was replacing fat with muscle (there's diet as well but that's a post for another day). If you're a woman reading this you might be like OMG no, I don't want to be bulky- but trust me, you won't be. For a woman, it takes A LOT of time and effort (read: steroids might be needed) to end up looking overly muscular because we don't have testicles (not physically anyway). True story, testicles release a lot of testosterone, which is what makes (some) men more muscular that women. It might seem counter intuitive to say 'build muscle to lose fat' but how many people who train for endurance have you seen with toned and lean bodies? Go ahead and have a think...I'll wait.

I have stated before (this post), that you should go off how you feel and look rather than the number on the scale because loosing weight doesn't mean you are going to end up with a lean and toned body. Whilst fat and muscle weigh the same (its the whole what weighs more - a 1 ton of feathers or a ton of bricks conundrum) muscle is a lot more denser than fat so it will make you look more compact hence your body will look more toned and shapely! Case in point: recently, I went to have a health assessment done you know those extensive ones where they check cholesterol, BMI, weight etc and the doctor told me my BMI was in the 'slightly overweight' range- I went in there expecting this outcome so I wasn't surprised. I have a lot of muscle mass so I've stopped being bothered by BMI. The doctor then said my waist to hip ratio was healthy which contradicted my BMI but he expected this because it's common with people who have a lot of muscle mass.

Honestly, stop worrying about the number on the scale and losing weight. Instead, start focusing on losing fat and you will hit the goal of looking good naked! End of the day, if you want to be fit because you want to feel great, be healthy, (not struggle through a tough mudder) and look good (read: be more attractive to the opposite sex) how much you weigh is of no consequence!
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