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Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss, what's the goal?


First, I want to welcome all of the new members of this page. So happy to have you!

So many of us are looking for a way to lose weight, whether it be for health, performance or maybe we just want to look better. The truth of this is that we generally don't want to just lose 'weight', we want to lose the extra body fat we have sticking around. When we think about losing fat instead of losing weight, we are actually wanting to change our body composition, not just our mass in general.

When we look at how the body is composed, we have a few different tools that we can use to measure. First, and most common is the scale. Overall weight can indicate general health markers and give us a good starting idea on which direction we might need to head. Unfortunately, for those who are athletes or those who have more muscle, the scale can be misleading. For example, I weigh in around 185lb. For a woman of my height and weight most medical professionals would consider this weight obese based on a scale called BMI. BMI (Body Mass Index) is another general form of measurement and is taken by calculating weight against age, sex and height. This scale is used often, but personally I'm not a fan. What's missing from this scale is body composition, or what your makeup is. So, back to the example, at my weight of 185, my body fat percentage is 24%. Healthy ranges for women are from about 20%-27%. As you can see, I fall right in range for my sex. Health markers like blood pressure, metabolic rate, and activity level at this percentage show great potential for lifelong health. Obesity, on the other hand, does not. The contrast between the measurement of BMI and Body Fat Percentage is obvious. One shows obesity and risk for disease and the other shows a healthy range and high potential for health. This is the main reason why using only one form of measurement is misleading and doesn't show the whole picture.

Outside of our general mass, we can track things like our lean body mass (LBM). LBM is made up of our muscle tissue and is measured in weight; out of my 185lbs, about 132lbs of that is lean body mass. From this number we calculate our caloric needs, and can track both muscle growth and loss over nutrition phases, like fat loss or muscle gain. I find that tracking both LBM and Body Fat Percentage are great ways to watch your body composition change. You may see an increase in LBM and a decrease in BF%, but not see any major change to the scale.

The last form of tracking that can be helpful is measurements. Using a tape measure to track girths can show you inches lost where the scale cannot. Measurements are usually taken at the arm, chest, waist, hip and leg. Watching inches fall of can be motivating, despite a stagnant scale. If you're not into measuring, you can also notice clothes fitting differently, or maybe needing to buy new clothes in a different size. All of this indicates a change in body composition, regardless of the total mass of your body.

Moral of the story is, if you're looking to lose 10-15lbs of fat, you're really searching for a body composition change. We have many ways to measure this, between the scale, BMI, BF%, LBM, and girth measurements. My recommendation is to use a combination of all of them, especially if you're frustrated with just the scale. Body fat can be tricky to manipulate, and requires good nutrition and activity. If you feel stuck or need help changing your composition reach out to me! I would love to help you reach your goals!


Chat soon,

Nicole

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