Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss: Why You’re Not Losing Weight

Common Statements on Weight Loss

Weight Los vs. Fat Loss
Weight Los vs. Fat Loss

You’ve probably hit the gym for months but your weight has’t really budged. However, there’s a common misconception on “weight loss”. Are Looking good in a bikini or making those 6-pack abs pop out isn’t necessarily about “losing weight” in general, but rather “fat loss” by lowering your body fat percentage.

Body Fat Percentage Men vs. Women

The ideal body fat percentage for men is about 10% to 20%, while for women it’s about 20% to 30%. Women naturally store more fat than men due to estrogen because they need the reserve energy for pregnancy. (Hello, cellulites!)

Ideal Body Fat Percentage

“You didn’t sweat much. You probably didn’t work out hard enough.”

Some people sweat buckets more than others for the same amount of work. It’s genetics. In fact, over sweating can dehydrate you and lower your immunity. When you drink, you’ll gain all that water weight back

“I lost 2 pounds yesterday!”

You may have lost 2 pounds yesterday from intermittent fasting or from sweating it out, but it’s temporary. You’ll gain it right back the day after when you compensate by binge-eating or drinking water. Another tip is to never weight after a workout. Instead, you should do it first thing in the morning when you wake up.

1 lb of Fat vs 1 lb of Muscle
1 lb of Fat vs 1 lb of Muscle

What you want to do is lose 2 pounds of fat while maintaining your muscles. Remember that muscle has a higher density that fat. You don’t wait to lose 2 pounds of muscle or water. I’ve stopped losing weight but continued to do HIIT with some weights. I still weigh the same but I look leaner and feel stronger.

“I did 45 minutes on the treadmill!”

Some people could spend several hours per week running on the treadmill only to waste their time. It might work at first because of the calorie deficit–assuming your calorie intake has been consistent–but another thing to consider is the metabolic rate, which slows down over time as your body mass decreases.

“I’m a girl. I don’t want to bulk up.”

It’s never going to happen. Women don’t have enough testosterone to bulk up with muscles unless they take supplements for muscle gain. The most that will happen is that women will just burn the fat off and look lean.


Weights vs. Cardio

Weight loss is logarithmic. As you lose weigh, your metabolism declines, causing you to burn fewer calories than you did at your heavier weight. What will help sustain a high metabolism?

The Role of Muscles in Fat Loss

Muscles are very important in sustaining metabolism. Doing heavy weights requires energy, so your body will look for a source of energy. Fasted Lifting first thing after you wake up is usually more effective than at the end of the day. There are exceptions like taking a banana or caffeine for a small energy boost. Hit 2 birds in 1 by taking L-carnitine which transports fatty acids from the blood to the mitochondria, or the cell’s “power house”. The best opportunity to burn off that energy is lifting weights while continuing to burn fat.

“Shock the muscles” by doing heavier weights as each week progresses so you don’t stagnate. High tonnage is a good way to build muscle because you’re breaking the muscles and forcing them to come back stronger.

Weight Training and Fat Burn
Weight Training and Fat Burn

The more muslces you have, the faster your resting metabolic rate. That means that even while you’re sitting at your desk, your body continues to burn energy.

Before going to bed, try avoiding meals within 3 hours before bed. Your metabolism slows down when you sleep but you still continue to burn energy, so you want to burn as much energy as you can before going to bed. Plus, you don’t want to get an indigestion.

How to Burn Fat and Not Lose Muscles

Too much cardio and over-dieting (excessive calorie deficit) could encourage your body to eat away your muscles when the fat runs out. In order to retain your hard-earned muscles, be sure to replenish energy with protein and doing maintenance weight lifting. You need at least 0.8g of protein per kg or 0.36g per lb of body mass to avoid muscle loss. Consider drinking whey protein shake after a workout.

How to Maintain Muscles
How to Maintain Muscles

Calorie Counting and Macronutrients

Calorie Counting

In the initial stages, especially if you haven’t been mindful of your eating habits, you should make it a habit to count your calories. I recommend MyFitnessPal, which I’ve been using for over 5 years now. I lost about 10 pounds in the first 6 months and have been using the app to maintain my target weight.

Calorie Deficit and Weight Loss
Calorie Deficit and Weight Loss

Going over or under in a single day doesn’t matter. A sustained impact depends on your net gain or net loss in calories for the week. If you’re consistently under 10% of your total required calories per week, then you can see a gradual decline of about 0.5 pounds per week. Any excess, unspent energy is stored as fat.

Ideal Macronutrients

The next part is to sustain the metabolism, and while building muscle is a factor, 90% of the weight loss is attributable to diet. There have been a lot of diet trends that play around the distribution of carb, protein and fat, like the high fat-low carb Keto Diet, Paleo Diet, Vegetarian, Vegan, etc. Which one works? Answer: it depends on your body.

Ideal Macronutrients
Ideal Macronutrients

Your body is unique so you do you. Some of us can eat a lot but not gain any weight, but it’s because of their body type. However, if you have a specific goal for your body, then using the Somatotype Diet or “Body Type Diet” can help you modify your body by outsmarting it. This diet suggests that the macronutrient distribution should vary depending on your build, metabolism and hormones with the objective of gaining muscle, boosting energy or losing fat.

  • Ectomorphs (slender; “hard gainer”) – 55% carb, 25% protein, 20% fat (to gain muscle)
  • Mesomorph (broad-shouldered; athletic) – 30% carb, 40% protein, 30% fat (to boost endurance and power)
  • Endomorphs (heavy set) – 25% carb, 35% protein, 40% fat (to lose fat)
Body Types (Source: Precision Nutrition)

We’ve also heard of Intermittent Fasting (I. F.) and One-Meal-A-Day (OMAH), but the main reason why these work is because you’re forced to control your calorie intake. It’s no different from eating 5 meals a day as long as you’re within your calorie limit. I.F. and OMAH have worked for a lot of people but only for the first few weeks. As mentioned earlier, the metabolism also slows down the more body mass you lose.

I believe that these diet techniques can be put to good use if you use them to adapt to your situation and not the other way around. You shouldn’t have to change your lifestyle for the sake of a diet, but rather use the appropriate diet based on your lifestyle. For example, if I know that I’m going to a buffet or a taste testing event that involves trying out 10 different dishes, then I’ll use I.F. or O.M.A.H., that is, I would skip breakfast and dinner. However, on a regular day, I would eat however much of whatever I want as long as I don’t go beyond my calorie limit this week.

Carb Cycling

Whichever diet you choose, your body will eventually get used to it. While the keto diet will help you shave off a few pounds of fat, your body will adapt to your diet and slow down. In other words, it’s not sustainable and you’ll find yourself eventually slipping into an even split between carb, protein and fat, which is not wrong by the way.

Restart your body’s settings through Carb Cycling, that is rotating high carb and low carb in your diet so your body doesn’t get used to the low carb diet.

Carb Cycling
Carb Cycling

Junk Food and Rice are Not the Enemy

There is no “bad food” when taken in moderation. It becomes bad when we have too much. Having too much rice which has high carb content can cause cholesterol to shoot up. Diversify your diet. Incorporate other carbohydrate sources like oats and grains, which are processed less.

10 Fat Loss Food and Drinks that Boost Metabolism

  1. Water
  2. White Meat (chicken breast, turkey, seafood)
  3. Apple Cider Vinegar
  4. Ginger
  5. Turmeric
  6. Soluble Fibers
  7. Legumes and Pulses (soybean, peanut, peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas)
  8. Seaweed
  9. Iron, Zinc and Selenium
  10. Yogurt
  11. Coffee and Tea

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