Do you want to lose weight, or lose fat?

The difference between the two, and why you need to avoid crash diets.

How many people say they want to “lose weight”, and how many people say they want to “lose fat”? Personally I have heard the former expression far more commonly than the latter. Both expressions come about because of the same reason, which is to see the numbers on the scales decrease, however, there is a difference between the two terms, notably in the specificity of where the lost ‘weight’ comes from.

I want you to start using the term ‘fat loss’ instead of ‘weight loss’, because that paints a clear picture in your mind of where the weight will come from. You want to lose your body fat, nothing else! You may be wondering, ‘is there anything on my body that I have to lose apart from fat?’ Yes, there definitely is. By improperly pursuing your goal of ‘weight loss’, you may end up losing muscle mass, and this is a very contradictory thing to be doing.

The most common thing for people to do when they decide to ‘lose weight’ is to go on a crash diet plan. The problem is that by following a crash diet, you’ll be under-eating, and therefore not giving your body enough nutrition to feed your muscles, and this results in muscle mass decreasing. This will show on the scales as weight loss, since muscle weighs more than fat, however, this is the worst thing to do, because lean muscle mass works as an engine for your body. The more lean muscle mass you have, and the more active that muscle mass is, the quicker your metabolism. In a nutshell, by drastically reducing your energy intake through a crash diet, you will be reducing the amount of lean muscle mass on your body, which will in turn slow down your metabolism.

The negative thing about this, is that once you get back to eating normally, you’ll most likely put the weight back on plus more. The reason for this, is that your metabolism would now be slower than what it used to be before the crash diet. This means that when you go back to eating the way you used to, your body will not be able to deal with the food as efficiently, and will therefore be more prone to putting on extra body fat, due to the slower metabolism.

In terms of exercise habits, I promote exercise that is high-intensity and physically demanding, but that incorporates both weight training and cardiovascular exercise. This means that you are burning energy, in the form of fat (as long as the exercise is timed correctly), and you are also toning and tightening your body through the weight training. By training this way, you will allow your body to lose weight, uniquely in the form of fat loss.

You also need to make sure to eat five to six small meals a day, and consume a rich amount of protein throughout the day. Protein is essential for muscle repair and recovery, and so it must be an important part of your diet. Out of the five to six small meals that you should be eating throughout the day, protein must be included in four to five of those meals. Foods that are rich in protein include beef, fish, chicken, any other form of lean meat, egg whites, Greek yoghurt, cheese, protein bars, and protein powders. By eating five to six small meals a day, you will be boosting your metabolism to a level that encourages constant fat burn, and you won’t be starving yourself, which allows for the retention of your lean muscle mass.

It is important to see health and fitness as a lifestyle commitment, in other words as a marathon, and not a sprint. Too many people are too eager to get rid of their excess ‘weight’ far too quickly, which resorts in crash dieting and therefore loss of lean muscle. Focus on the reduction of your body fat as a lifestyle habit, through regular exercise, in the form of weight training and cardiovascular training. Eat till you’re no longer hungry, have five to six small meals a day, and consume protein with four to five of those meals. Live this lifestyle, and you’ll become a fat-melting, muscle-toning machine!

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