Spring Time Blues: Weight Loss vs Fat Loss

posted Apr 26, 2016, 5:17 PM by Megan Niño   [ updated May 1, 2016, 6:55 PM ]

Summer is right around the corner and everywhere you look you will find advertisements on weight loss products or the best workouts to "melt the belly fat away." Weight loss is a phrase that can be thrown around or misunderstood. As a kinesiologist and personal trainer, I get many people asking me for the best way to lose weight. I always have to ask whether the person is trying to lose weight or lose fat. Your overall weight includes: bones, organs, fluids, muscle, and fat. Therefore, weight loss can include loss of muscle, fat, fluids, and even a decrease in bone density. Fat loss on the other hand is when you cut down on your body fat percentage, which doesn't necessarily mean you are going to lose weight. It means that your body will begin to "tighten up" or "slim down" because of the fat loss. Keep in mind that muscle is denser than fat. The photo below displays replicas of 5 lbs of fat and 5lbs of muscle.
Although it is possible to cut both fat percentage and weight in pounds, most people wish to lose body fat, but are not sure how. It really depends on the physique you are looking to build. Below are steps to plan before beginning the fat loss process.

1. How do you measure your body fat? There are four ways to measure body fat: OMRON, Skinfolds, hydrostatic Weighing, and DEXA. The most accurate are hydrostatic weighing and DEXA with Skinfolds coming in third place. These three modes of measurement do need a trained technician. The easiest, and fastest way to measure body fat is using a handheld OMRON machine. The OMRON sends a an electrical signal, which you do not feel, through your body and will calculate your fat percentage and body mass index (BMI) according to gender, age, and body type. OMRON does have some error, but it is a great way to track your progress. 

2. What exactly does your diet consist of? You may have heard the phrase, "Abs are made in the kitchen." To a large extent it is true. For a week, record exactly what you are eating and estimate your portion sizes. This first step creates awareness of your daily habits. Remember what you eat and how much will affect your body. Now that you know your daily eating habits, you may have noticed certain things that could be improved. Calculate how many calories you are eating and adjust it by consuming approximately 10 calories per lb in body weight. Depending on your energy expenditure, you can increase that total by 200-500.  Make sure that your diet consists of food groups and seasonings that you like. Reduce your sweets, fast food, and processed foods. Overtime eliminate them or use them as a weekly/bi-weekly incentive. (These are rough estimates that vary per person, if you have specific questions please email me or contact your health professional). Remember everyone is different. Listen to your body, feed it what it needs, and avoid feeding what your visceral fat is screaming for. 

3. What will your regimen look like? Depending on what your goals are, the style of training will vary. The more muscle you build, the higher your metabolism will be. For a slim physique, endurance training (high repetition) with occasional heavier lifting and cardio will help. If you want a more athletic physique, then your exercise regimen will be a combination of strength training that is about 60-70% effort, power training, and some cardio. Keep a fitness journal to plan your workouts and track your progress.

4. What will hold you accountable? Changing your daily habits aren't easy, but they are do-able. Hire a fitness professional to help you develop a plan and some realistic goals. If a personal trainer is outside your budget, find a buddy to work out with.

5. Get Started!

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