Weight Loss Vs. Fat Loss (where should you focus in 2018?)
The New Year is right around the corner so you've probably started thinking about 2018.
Maybe you have even started setting a resolution or two.
If you are like most, at least one of these resolutions will involve some kind of health related goal, typically in the form of weight loss.
If this is true for you, take a few minutes to read this blog as it will be paramount in the success of your efforts.
Let's start with weight-loss.
What is it and what does it really mean?
Your weight simply refers to the number that shows when you step on the scale, reflective of your body as a whole.
This number can change daily because it moves up, down or stays the same for a variety of reasons.
For many of us, checking the scale becomes an obsession and it's the only way we track our progress in the gym.
What if I told you that just because the number on the scale moved one way or another, it doesn't always mean you're any healthier than you were the day before.
Just because you lose, gain or maintain your "weight" doesn't necessarily mean you're making or not making any progress towards your goals.
Here are a couple examples:
You step on the scale and it reads 150lbs.
You then spend an hour in the sauna and step back on the scale showing a 5lb weight loss.
In excitement you see the scale read 145lbs but what really happened?
Simply put, you only lost 5lbs of water with no actual progress made towards improving your overall health.
This can also happen with restrictive, very low-carb and/or low-calorie diets which cause you to lose water weight.
At the same time, how do you know you're not also losing weight in the form of muscle in these situations?
Did you know the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn during the day?
You might have lost "weight" but really did nothing to improve your health.
On the other hand, what if you're working hard in the gym, building muscle and burning fat?
You step on the scale after a month or two, only to see a weight loss of a few pounds.
Frustration sets in and you start to believe all of your efforts have been for nothing.
At the same time, other indications that you're on the right track might be happening such as your clothes fitting differently but you've been conditioned to only worry about the scale.
The problem with focusing solely on weight loss is that you start to do things just to make the scale move, regardless of if it's actually getting you closer towards your goals.
Another issue is that this can often leave you discouraged, even though you might actually be headed in the right direction, which leads to a slew of possible negative outcomes.
The scale just does not show the entire picture.
We're going to change this in 2018 by shifting your thinking and the way you track your progress.
We begin all of our Nutrition Coaching Groups with baseline testing.
This involves a variety of tests like weight, circumference measurements, blood pressure and most importantly body-fat testing.
Body-fat testing gives us a percentage that shows how much of your weight is made up of actual body-fat and how much of your weight is made up of muscle (lean mass).
This is the most important test we do and the best way to track your progress in 2018 because it gives you a more complete look at where you stand.
Here are a couple of examples of fat loss differing from weight loss:
You complete a cleanse or restrictive diet and start a new cardio workout.
The number on scale starts to move down and you retake your body-fat measurements to find out how your body is changing.
You see a loss in fat however there's an even larger loss in muscle, showing a need for a possible increase in calories and strength training incorporation to your routine.
How does this shift towards fat loss look for someone doing everything right?
You exercise 2-3x/week, doing a combination of strength training and cardio.
You start to change your nutritional habits. You're feeling great!
Then you check the scale to see it's only moved a couple of pounds.
Instead of getting frustrated like times before, you recheck your body-fat percentage.
The results show you've actually lost about 10lbs of fat while adding 5lbs of muscle --- SUCCESS!
On the surface, a few pounds of weight loss might not seem like a whole lot, but in reality the change in body-fat is HUGE for your health and physique.
Like Beth, who had little total "weight-loss" but dropped 5% body-fat, added muscle and completely changed her body.
Steve - lost over 10% body-fat!
And, Liz - lost over 10% body-fat!
When you stop focusing on weight-loss and shift towards fat-loss something magical happens.
You stop focusing so much on the scale and start focusing on the things that help you make longterm changes and progress towards your goals.
You start to focus on things that really matter when it comes to seeing results -- improving your health and not some number on the scale.
Instead let's focus 2018 on losing fat and gaining strength through changing your body-fat percentage.