Many people who start a new exercise and nutrition plan have the goal of losing weight. But not all weight loss is the same. Read on to learn the differences between fat loss and weight loss, why you can’t rely on a scale to tell the difference, and how to get the most out of your exercise and nutrition plans for fat loss.
Body Fat Loss vs Weight Loss
Your body’s total weight can be attributed primarily to fat, muscle mass, water weight, and bone mass. Because the weight of your bones is unchanging as an adult, the other three factors are where you can lose weight. A decrease in any of these three categories would be considered weight loss. Body fat loss, or fat loss, would be a decrease specifically in your weight from fat.
If weight loss is your goal, your focus should be on losing as much of that weight as possible from fat. Decreasing your body’s fat percentage can provide you with health benefits, and you may see a more noticeable change in how you look with fat loss compared to generalized weight loss. But how can you track how much fat you are losing?
Measuring Body Fat Loss
Using a standard scale is not an efficient way to determine if you are losing body fat. Like we’ve said before, your total weight is the sum of fat, bone, muscle, and water in your body. Even if you lose weight on the scale, there is no guarantee how much of that is from fat. Other tools can give you a better understanding.
Everyone has heard of Body Mass Index (BMI) as a tool for calculating body fat percentage. But, BMI is a flawed system because it only uses height and weight to try and calculate body fat percentage. This flawed system could tell a very fit, muscular person that they are obese. While there may be some use for BMI in calculating population trends, it’s not an accurate or effective measure for calculating your body fat percentage and fat loss.
A better system is through bioelectric impedance, where a small electric current moves through the body via a handheld device or electric scale. Because fat is not very good at conducting electricity, the more fat your body has, the more the electrical current is impeded. While these devices aren’t the most accurate technology, they offer a better picture than you can attain through BMI calculations alone. By using electrical impedance to measure your body fat percentage before and after losing weight, you can calculate how much of your weight loss is from fat and how much from other factors.
Tips for Maximizing Fat Loss
The best way to ensure that the weight you are losing is from fat is to combine a balanced nutritional plan with your exercise. Here are some tips to get you started.
Check Your Carbohydrate Intake
Your body needs carbohydrates for energy, so cutting or drastically reducing your carbohydrate intake is not a good idea. But, many Americans eat more carbs than the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends. Limiting your carbohydrate intake to around 45-55% of your daily calories is a good benchmark to start.
Reduce Refined Carbs
In addition to making sure our carbohydrates stay around the recommended range, we want to reduce how much of our carb intake is from refined carbs. Refined carbs are carbohydrates that have been highly processed and have almost zero nutritional value from vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Some examples are white bread, pasta made from white flour, sugary drinks like soda, and baked goods. Plus, refined carbohydrates are high on the glycemic index, so you don’t feel full for as long, which can lead to overeating. Try switching to whole-grain bread and pasta and reducing the number of sugary foods and drinks you eat.
Make Sure to Lift Weights
A common misconception is that you need to spend all of your time doing cardio if you want to lose weight. While cardio is part of the puzzle, it isn’t the whole picture. Lifting weights or taking high-intensity interval training (HIIT) classes allow you to maintain your muscle mass and strength while you lose weight. That way, most of the weight you lose should come from fat.
If you’re interested in losing body fat and finding your new healthy lifestyle, find your nearest Fit Body Boot Camp to get long-lasting fat loss results with our 30-minute HIIT classes and easy-to-follow nutrition plans.