What Is The Difference Between Weight Loss, Fat Loss, and Muscle Loss

photo of person measuring woman s waist

Our body weight is actually made up of water, fat, and muscle. When we are talking about weight loss, we are usually talking about the number on our weight scale. Which is fair enough, because that number is the one used on BMI formula, but as we are going to go deeper and aim for healthier lifestyle and better fitness, it is important to know what this weight loss is about.

Weight Loss

Our second weigh-in (first weigh in after we start the weight loss program) we usually drop a significant amount of weight. It is wonderful, and incredibly encouraging. The second weigh in, on the other hand, is way harder than you expect. Why?

Usually, the weight loss we saw on the first week is the water weight loss. This is what happened when you started cutting salty food, sweet food, and alcohol. This is what happened when you started exercising and sweat. You lose water.

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Water is easily replenished by hydration, and this is very important. If you are not drinking enough water, your body think you are dehydrated, and it starts holding as much water it can. You will have a high water retention, and sometimes that’s the reason your body doesn’t lose weight.

However, because water content in our body fluctuates a lot, it makes our body weight fluctuates too. That is why it is advisable to weigh in at the same day of the week, at roughly the same time. The idea is… if you have a routine, then your water percentage during that time of Monday 7am this week would be similar to Monday 7am next week.

And then, you can actually measure your…

Fat Loss

Now this is what we are aiming for.

The main goal of weight loss is not getting rid of water retention, but to chip away the body fat. Body fat is actually the storage of excess energy. When we are eating more calories than what we can spend, the extra calories would be stored in our body as fat. This is why we are trying to budget our calories so we are on a deficit… so that we can burn that stored energy.

There are two types of fat in our body. The first one is called subcutaneous fat, which is the fat stored underneath our skin. We know that we are losing it with the help of caliper — anything that you can pinch underneath your skin is the subcutaneous fat.

photo of person measuring woman s waist
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The other one, Visceral fat is stored inside our stomach cavity, amongst our muscle and our organ. We know that we are losing it by measuring our waistline with measuring tape. Ha! Now you know why it is important to measure your waistline… because as subcutaneous fat is mainly affecting our aesthetic, visceral fat is the one that can be dangerous to our health.

Fat loss takes time. It needs 9 calories to burn one gram of fat. Exercise can help widen the calories deficit, which can help burning fat faster. Exercise is also important to develop muscle mass. Because…

Muscle Loss

This is not what we want.

When you are losing muscle mass, you are losing your strength, endurance, and stamina. You get tired doing things which in the past you can do easily. You probably felt it after four months of lock down, and go back to work an every bit in your body ache when you come home… yep. You lost muscle.

Now, generally you don’t lose muscle before you lose fat. When you are on a calories deficit, generally your body will use energy storage from fat first before taking away muscle mass. However there are a couple of reasons why you lose muscle mass…

  1. You don’t exercise, or having a very sedentary lifestyle. Like when you were not doing much during COVID lock down, for example. Not only you are gaining fat from eating, but losing muscle through lack of activities… double whammy.
  2. You eat too little, or your macros are not balanced. Yes… This is when you are using your knowledge about TDEE and CICO 🙂

I hope this is helpful… please let me know if I miss anything. Or if you have any opinion, please let me hear it.

I wish you a great day, and the best for your journey to get healthier.

See you soon xx

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