Weight loss is one of the hottest topics world over and everyone from Chennai to Seattle seem to want to lose weight. When people say that they want weight loss, ‘weight’ can be any of these things – water, muscle and fat. You can cut off a limb and you’ll lose ‘weight’ just fine.
What most of us want is fat loss and NOT weight loss. But, what’s the difference? Our body weight is the sum of the weight of muscles, bones, organs, fat and water. When you say weight loss, it’s the sum loss of total body weight. It’s the number on the weighing scale. Fat loss as the name suggests, is the process of losing only the unwanted fat without losing much else.To reiterate,
Weight loss = Muscle loss + Fat loss + Water loss
Fat loss = Loss of excess body fat
Since weight is a measurement of the force of gravity pulling down on your body, you will weigh less in Chennai than in Seattle because the force of gravity is lower in the equator than near the poles. But that’s not the ‘weight loss’ you are looking for or will be happy with. So when you say you want to lose weight or look better, what you actually want is to lose the excess fat. Not the water or the muscle. Only fat and nothing but fat. And this makes fat loss a lot harder than weight loss.
Because ‘weight loss’ can be ridiculously simple and deceptive. If you are dehydrated, you will weigh less. If you starved for a week, you would weigh less. You would weigh one third your weight in Mars and you definitely would weigh less with one limb less. More often than not, ‘weight loss’ can border on dangerous when you partake in excessive cardio and fad diets that deprive your body of nutrition and burn muscle mass. And you definitely don’t want to lose any muscle.
Because muscle is necessary for life and is an integral part of living. Muscles are responsible for all movement, maintaining posture and circulating blood throughout the body. Muscle also burns calories and when you lose some, you slow down your metabolism. Muscles also help lose fat. Muscles have mitochondria where energy is produced and fat metabolised. The more mitochondria (and by that more muscles) you have, the more the potential to burn fat.
So what should you do?
Focus on losing fat instead of weight.
Fat loss is a much slower process whereby the body breaks down stored fat, converting it to energy that the body can use. And for fat loss to happen, you need to maintain and or build muscle. For this you have to follow a nutrient rich diet along with a sensible workout routine that involves strength training instead of falling prey to fad diets and crazy cardio.
Dump the weighing scale.
A better indicator of your progress would be your energy levels, measurements, strength gains, how well your clothes fit you and body fat percentage.
To sum up, fat loss is what you want, not weight loss. Don’t worry about the weight on the scale anymore. Focus instead on the larger picture instead. Eat right, train smart, sleep enough and magic will happen.