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July 18, 2020 8 Comments

Understanding Weight Loss versus Fat Loss

As I mentioned in Episode 2, there is a lot of confusion between “Weight Loss” and “Fat Loss” 

Prospective clients would come to me wanting to lose huge numbers from the scale – wanting to lose fat fast.

But losing weight is not similar with losing fat. 1 pound of weight lost does not automatically equate to 1 pound of fat loss.

Here is why:

  • Weight Loss is the sum loss of your total body weight which includes your muscle weight, bone weight, organ weight and the amount of water that your body retains and even fat.


  • Fat Loss is the reduction of your stored body fats.

So, basically weight loss includes fat loss and since the common goal is to keep us fit and healthy what we should all be looking at is to really lose fat at the onset.

However, losing fat is not that simple. We cannot just tell our body before a workout to lose just fat and not the other components of our body weight.

As we have learned in the previous episodes, our body tends to store fat rather than use it as primary fuel when for example there is a surplus of glucose in our blood stream. The body would first tap the glycogen from the liver and when it gets depleted then that is the only time when the fats are released from storage to fuel our body’s energy needs.

What makes it even more complicated is that in our desire to lose weight rapidly and without proper guidance, we might lose muscle instead of fats in the process.

Why is it bad to lose muscle?

Well, aside from the fact that muscles play key roles in body movement and functions, muscles are also important in our battle to lose fat. Studies have shown that muscles host those fat-burning powerhouses of the cell called the mitochondria. If there are more muscles in the body, then there will be more powerhouses that could aid in burning those unwanted fats.

Since muscles are active tissues, the mitochondrion within them would burn fats all day even when you are at rest because muscles need constant energy. However, when you lose those muscles, the burning would slow down and so too your metabolism which could ultimately contribute to weight gain. Thus, the more muscles you have in your body, the better it will be for your quest to lose the fat. 

But gaining and maintaining muscles need work. 

This is where you should seek my expert advice because gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time seems at the opposing ends of the fitness pole.

See below Client Matt who is 41 from London, we Shredded a tonne of fat with him and BUILT muscle at the same time!



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The dilemma between Building Muscles and Losing Fat at the same time.

Experts agree that you need to be in a caloric surplus to build lean muscles and inversely, you must be in a caloric deficitto lose fat.         

  • Muscle Gain and Caloric Surplus

Muscles can be maintained and strengthened by exercising more but to put in a bulk of muscles, you need to increase your calorie intake correctly so that there would be an excess in energy which would allow the muscle to grow. This process is called muscle protein synthesis.

Of course, to be in a caloric surplus- in the name of gaining muscles - is not a license to overeat and gain extra fats that will just be locked in your adipose tissue. Here, not only is proper and guided diet important, a personalized training regimen is equally vital to keep and build those muscles toward achieving significant fat loss.

  • Fat Loss and Caloric Deficit

 I have mentioned in episode 2 that the body follows a hierarchy in terms of using its available fuels as sources of energy.  Thus, when we take in fewer calories (caloric deficit) than what our body needs for energy, the body will expend its glycogen reserves faster which would lead it to tap the fat storage earlier than it would as compared when we are on caloric balance or caloric surplus.

A consistent caloric deficit for a long period, would result in fat loss considering that the fat storage is tapped at a regular basis because of the daily shortage in calorie intake.

How do we reconcile gaining muscle and losing fat, if one needs caloric surplus and the other needs caloric deficit?

Some believe that it cannot be done at the same time. It is either you concentrate in gaining muscles first which can eventually help you lose fat or focus on losing fat first which would lead you to become leaner at a faster rate.

But there is a third option called body recomposition which focuses on changing the ratio of fat to lean body mass. What is given primacy here is the composition of the body and not just the weight.

Studies show that the basic requirements in body recomposition are: (1) Lower calorie consumption to lose fat; (2) Higher protein intake for muscle growth; (3) Strength and Weight Training to build muscle and (4) Cardiovascular exercises for fat loss.

Thus, fitness professionals consider this as a change of lifestyle because it entails specific diet and exercise regimens that are tailored to a person’s current and unique body composition.

Since this method combines muscle gain and fat loss at the same time, the timetable for this would be much slower as compared to either muscle gain or fat loss alone.

Again, you should always consult an expert like me and the CJ Coaching Tean before venturing into any of these options because they have risks which if not managed well will stall any progress that you will make or have already made.




Scenarios in Muscle Gain and Fat Loss

Despite the general consensus that it would be very difficult to combine the goals of building muscles and fat loss, some say that it can be done even outside body recomposition in cases where a person is very overweight and has not done any strength or lifting exercises.

In lifting weights, muscle damage occurs which will trigger a natural signal to the body for it to repair the muscles. Of course, the body would expend energy to repair these muscles which would lead not only to their maintenance and strengthening but also to the probable use of fats from the adipose to augment the fuel needed for these repairs.

 When you are on the obese side and has not lifted weights, this signal is stronger which would produce a greater effect on your fat loss and muscle gain up to a certain point.

However, if you are on the leaner side and have been lifting weights, it would turn out to be harder for you to lose fat and gain or even maintain your muscle because you have less body fat to lose and your body has already efficiently adapted to your diet and exercise programs which brings you to a plateau.

Hitting a plateau could mean that you have already achieved the goals that you have set under your current diet and exercise plans. But if you still feel unsatisfied and you think you could do more. I suggest that you reassess your goals, your diet plan and exercise regimen with the help of a trainer to move forward to the next phase of your fitness plan.



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