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What's the Difference Between Losing Fat vs. Losing Weight?

June 11, 2021 5 min read

Cropped image of woman feet standing on weigh scales, on gray background. A tape measure in the foreground

Losing weight is a goal for many people no matter the time of the year. 

And, while they may say they want to lose weight, they mean that they want to lose body fat.

In today's article, we'll discuss what's the difference between losing fat vs. losing weight, as well as some tips to help you optimize your progress as you work your way towards your health and fitness goals.

Let’s get started!

What Does It Mean to Lose Weight?

When you step on the bathroom scale, you’ll be greeted with a readout, which you may or may not be fond of.

The number indicated on the scale is your body weight.

It includes the weight of your bones, muscles, adipose tissue (fat), organs (including your skin), hair, nails, and the water you naturally carry in your body.

Based on this, losing weight is pretty simple -- you need to lose water weight by using a natural diuretic, such as Hydra Steel®.

Losing water weight is one of the reasons all those fad diets seem so "successful." They show significant changes in body weight in just a few days, with the vast majority of it being water weight loss on account of going super-low carb.

You see, when you eat carbohydrates, your body stores them in the form of glycogen in both skeletal muscle tissue and the liver. In addition to the carbohydrate molecule that's stored, water is also stored.

Therefore, when you stop eating carbohydrates, the body starts burning its glycogen stores for energy, and in doing so, it flushes out water that you’re holding onto.

While flushing water weight can help you look better in a swimsuit, dress, or help you make weight for competition, the average individual shouldn’t be as focused on just losing weight.

They need to be focused on losing fat while at the same time trying to preserve as much muscle as possible. This brings us to the next topic of discussion...

What Does It Mean to Lose Fat?

Circling back to the outset of this article, we said that many individuals say they want to "lose weight," but losing weight is simply a loss of overall body weight. It could be any combination of water, muscle, or fat. 

What most people mean (and what they should aim for) is fat loss, where you are causing a reduction in body fat. This improves your fat mass to lean mass ratio, which gives you a more favorable body composition (meaning you look better in a swimsuit!).

One other big difference between losing weight and losing fat is how it’s tracked.

Tracking weight loss is pretty simple -- if the number on the scale is going down, then you're losing weight. However, this number doesn't tell you if you're losing water weight, muscle mass, or body fat.

Tracking fat loss is a bit more nuanced as the number on the scale may not go down, yet you’re losing fat. This could happen if you’re recomping (building muscle and losing fat at a similar rate).

This is why we recommend a multi-tiered approach to track fat loss, using a combination of:

  • Progress pictures
  • Measurements (e.g., stomach, hips, butt, chest, arms)
  • How clothes are fitting
  • Bodyweight

How to Lose Fat

Optimizing weight loss for fat loss requires tailoring certain aspects of your diet and exercise program.

Concerning nutrition, you need to be a bit more specific about your macronutrient intake (protein, carbohydrate, and fat) than you do if you're trying to lose weight.

To facilitate fat loss (while retaining as much lean mass as possible), you need to consume adequate protein each day. A good rule of thumb is to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

You want to consume a relatively high protein diet during a fat loss phase because anytime the body is an energy deficit (which is needed to lose fat or lose weight), there is an increased risk of excessive protein breakdown, which can result in muscle loss.

Consuming adequate protein helps ward off any potential muscle loss that can be induced by dieting.

But an optimal fat loss plan isn’t achieved by diet alone.

In conjunction with consuming a calorie deficit and eating enough protein, you must perform resistance training several times per week. 

Resistance training provides the ever-so-important stimulus your body needs to tell it “I need to hold onto the muscle I have and build more.”

And, if you’re worried that lifting weights will turn you into a bodybuilder, don’t be. 

It takes years and years of eating, sleeping, and lifting with a myopic focus on gaining mass to reach the levels of muscular development that bodybuilders attain (natty or not).

You won't just "accidentally" become a bodybuilder just by hitting the weights a few times a week.

Besides, lifting weights helps give you curves in the places you want, so that you look better in (or out) of your clothes. And, to top it off, the more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn.

Finally, you also want to make sure you're not losing weight too quickly. A reasonable (and sustainable) weight/fat loss rate per week is between 1-2 pounds. According to the latest body of fat loss research, losing any more than 1% of your body weight per week increases the likelihood of muscle loss while dieting.

How Fat Loss Supplements Help

Fat loss supplements are some of the most popular dietary supplements on the market.

Regardless of how popular they are, though, the real question is, are they helpful in losing fat.

As it turns out, there are a number of ingredients that have been shown in human research to support weight loss when combined with proper diet and exercise.

Now, there are many supplements on the market, and they work via several different mechanisms.

The “backbone” upon which most fat burner supplements are built are stimulants, namely caffeine.

Caffeine stimulates the CNS, enhancing energy, mood, and motivation -- three things that can dwindle when following a low-calorie diet. 

Furthermore, caffeine also stimulates lipolysis -- the release of stored fatty acids into the bloodstream. They can be picked up by carnitine and shuttled into the mitochondria of skeletal muscles to be burned (oxidized) for energy. 

Caffeine can also help suppress appetite, making you feel less hungry and more likely to adhere to your reduced-calorie diet. 

Speaking of appetite suppression, several non-stimulant ingredients may help suppress appetite, including:

  • 5-HTP
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Glucomannan

Yet another avenue by which fat loss supplements help is via inhibition of various enzymes in the body involved in the digestion of carbohydrates and/or fats.

By inhibiting the actions of these digestive enzymes, the body may not be able to completely digest some of the food you eat, meaning you absorb fewer total calories from a meal. One prime example of this is Alluvia® Purple Tea extract, which can be found in our high-potency fat loss support supplement -- Shredded Steel®.

Takeaway

The main difference between weight loss and fat loss is that weight loss doesn't consider what kind of weight you're losing (water, fat, muscle), whereas fat loss focuses solely on reducing body fat while retaining (or gaining) lean muscle. 

Optimizing your routine for fat loss involves eating a reduced-calorie diet that contains sufficient protein and engaging in resistance training several times per week.

As a "cherry on top," fat loss supplements can help make the process more streamlined by:

  • Increasing feelings, energy, and motivation (resulting in more significant energy expenditure)
  • Boosting metabolism
  • Suppressing hunger
  • Increasing satiety
  • Enhancing fat oxidation

It’s important to remember that fat loss supplements are not a quick fix or magic pill for weight loss.

Fat loss is founded on diet and exercise; without those two in place, no supplements will help you lose fat (or weight). But, with diet and exercise in place, the best fat loss supplements (like the kind we offer here at SteelFit®) can make the process much more manageable (nigh enjoyable) and efficient.

Rob Kaufman
Rob Kaufman

As a former collegiate athlete, I’ve has always had a passion for all things health and wellness. SteelFit® is a culmination of all my years of education, training, and passion combined. I create, formulate, and educate daily. I am always thinking of how to give our customers the latest and greatest products to help them achieve their goals. Some of my best ideas come when I’m at the gym. When I’m not doing all those, I love spending time with my wife Jessica, my son Logan, our three puppies, and playing daily fantasy sports. I love to travel and am always up for a good cheat meal.



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