Looking at these two concepts at face value, one might assume that they mean one & the same thing. Right?
Weight loss assumes that our primary goal is to lose as much weight as possible, without much care given to where it is coming from. Provided the number on the scale gradually decreases, we are getting results. However, this is both true & false.
Allow me to explain.
Proponents of this approach usually tend to follow unsustainable diet models that either have them drastically restrict their food options, or calories, or sometimes even both! In addition to basically starving themselves, they will also perform hours of rigorous cardio, multiple times a week. Will this approach make you lose weight? Most definitely! But what many do not realize is that the weight lost will not only consist of body fat, but also muscle mass. Which is extremely detrimental to our long-term success.
Muscle is metabolically active tissue. As such it requires calories to sustain. The more muscle mass one has, the more calories their body burns during the day. If at the end of our weight loss journey we have lost both body fat and muscle, our metabolism will be slower than it was when we started initially. More so, by following unsustainable dietary practices, you will eventually give in & fall of the wagon, in which case, most people binge eat all the foods that they had been restricted from consuming in their diet.
Couple the extra calories, with a slower metabolism, and we have the perfect recipe for rapid weight gain. This is what creates the toxic cycle that is “yo-yo dieting”. Working hard to lose weight, only to regain it again, over & over & over…
So, how can we break this cycle?
By opting for FAT LOSS instead!
Fat loss requires that we focus on losing body fat while building or at the very least maintaining our current level of muscle mass. This is the best approach for improving our body composition (the ratio of fat to muscle on our bodies). This is important for two main reasons:
- You will be more aesthetic. The combination of being lean & carrying a decent level of muscle is what gives our bodies’ tone & definition, which will make you look more physically attractive.
- Building muscle will make it easier to lose fat & keep it off for good by increasing our metabolism in both the short & long terms.
Lastly, here are some tenets to abide by when looking to lose fat permanently & successfully:
- Eat in a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit requires that we are consuming less calories than it takes to maintain our bodyweight. None of this will work if we are eating too much. You can find a rough estimate of the calories you will need to eat for fat loss using this calculator.
- Eat enough protein in your diet. 1 gram per pound of bodyweight or 2.2 grams per kg of bodyweight will more than suffice. Protein is the primary macronutrient responsible for building/maintaining muscle mass.
- Resistance train using weights and/or calisthenics (bodyweight training) or both, at least 3 times per week. Building muscle requires a stimulus. Resistance is that stimulus. More so we want to be getting progressively stronger in the gym over time. This does not have to be from session to session. Provided we are adding repetitions or weight to our lifts over time using good technique, we can be guaranteed that we are building muscle.
- Follow a sustainable way of eating that you enjoy. Majority of the foods you eat should be nutrient dense, moderate to low calorie foods, mostly consisting of lean protein, greens & veggies, fruits, healthy fats & some starch. Once that has been sorted feel free to include a treat, in moderation, even if it is every day. Remember, the goal is to make your diet something that you can sustain for life, not just 3 months.
- Give your body time. 12-16 weeks is the sweet spot for a successful fat loss phase. We want to coax our bodies into getting leaner, not force them. There is no rush. Focus on. Doing the right things everyday & the results will take care of themselves over time.