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Weight loss versus muscle definition - here’s what you should know.

by Sarah Graham 5 months ago in diet
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Weight loss or fat loss?

Weight loss versus muscle definition - here’s what you should know.
Photo by Jacob Bentzinger on Unsplash

Many people share the common goal of wanting to lose weight, whether that be after the holidays, or the general desire to trim your waistline. One thing that a lot of people seem to confuse is the difference between overall weight loss, based solely on the number on the scale, and fat loss, which can be based off of your body fat percentage, and the visibility of your muscle definition. Depending on what your actual weight loss goal is, you may or may not be focusing on the right things. Believe it or not, reducing your caloric intake may even hurt you if your primary goal turns out to be fat loss, in which case exercise and weight training should be your main focus. There are two primary goals when it comes to weight loss: To lose weight or to get more toned or increase muscle definition. If your goal is the latter, then weight loss may not be the way to go. Instead, you should focus on muscle growth and reduction in your body fat percentage. While both weight loss and fat loss go hand in hand, the slightest change in your routine can make the biggest difference when it comes to the specifics of your body goals. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Overall weight loss

Weight loss is the reduction in overall weight, measured by the number on the scale. It is ideal for those who are overweight and need to lose weight not just for aesthetic purposes, but for their overall health. While the primary goal here is to reduce fat on the body, if your BMI is 25 and up, you may need to focus primarily on overall weight loss. This can be accomplished by creating a caloric deficit, which involves a reduction in caloric intake, as well as cardio exercises that help burn calories. Once you start losing weight, you will watch the number on the scale drop, notice a reduction in overall fat and size, and likely also see a reduction in muscle.

How fat loss differs from over all weight loss

Fat loss should be the primary goal for someone who wants to add more muscle definition or tone to their bodies. While you will lose fat with overall weight loss, you may also lose muscle if you focus too much on the number on the scale. If you lose muscle, then you likely will not see much of a difference in terms of muscle definition. Instead, you will just get smaller overall. Fat loss is measured by monitoring one’s body fat percentage, which can be most effectively measured using a variety of tools including skinfold calipers and bioelectrical impedance tests. Skinfold calipers are used to measure the thickness of the layers of fat, and bioelectrical impedance tests work through the use of electrodes sending electrical signals through your body to measure your body composition, including fat, water, bone density, and skeletal muscle mass. While experts suggest that neither of these methods are completely accurate, they are still a solid method to use to keep track of your fat loss, if used under the same circumstances: in the morning, dehydrated, and before having eaten or exercised. In order to lower your body fat percentage you will need to focus primarily on weight training and reducing your calories only minimally.

Ultimately, the bottom line is that depending on your goal, you may need to focus more on one aspect of weight loss, rather than overall weight loss. It is easy to look in the mirror and immediately assume weight loss and bringing down the number on the scale will get you to your goal aesthetic. However, when you look for weight loss tips online and in books, you will primarily be led into the direction of “how to lose ten pounds” or generally how to lower the number on the scale. In some cases, you may even end up gaining weight in the process of reaching your aesthetic goal, especially if you are trying to get more definition. Keep in mind that muscle weighs more than fat, which means that an increase in muscle mass and a decrease in fat, may still lead to weight gain. This is why so many health experts urge people to toss the scale and focus on overall health and visual progress. Unless you are overweight, your goal is likely more geared towards fat loss. Be sure to speak with a professional to help you establish your true goal so you know what to look out for and how to reach it!


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Sarah Graham

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