Often, people use body weight as an indicator of their physical fitness and weight loss progress. Unfortunately, for those who attempt to change their physique and still don’t see pounds dropping from the numbers on the scale each week, it can be easy to grow discouraged – even when they feel as though they look better in the mirror. This is because “weight loss” is often mistakenly defined as being the same as losing fat. We are trained to assume that the only way we can change our body composition is by losing weight. Because of this – so long as the scale numbers are dropping, we are happy – at least temporarily.
The truth is, however, that losing weight on the scales tells you nothing about which parts of your body are reducing in size. By focusing entirely on “weight”, you forget about the fact that fat, muscle, water, and bone, all play an important part in what you see on the scales each week. In other words, when you think you’re getting into shape, you could actually be getting rid of lean body mass like muscle and bone!
Shifting your efforts away from the concept of “weight loss” and towards the idea of “fat loss” is crucial for improved metabolic health, and the first step is understanding why.
Losing Weight Doesn’t Equate To Getting Healthier
Did you know that the amount of body fat in two people who weigh exactly the same can vary drastically? One person may have a body fat percentage of over 50%, while the other has a body fat percentage of only 7%. The reason for this is that body fat has less density than bone and muscle, and when you’re trying to get into shape, you need to start by understanding exactly where your weight comes from. Depending on your fitness level, your body weight will be comprised of fat, muscle, water, organs, tissue, and bone.
The more you know about the aspects of your body, such as how big your muscles are, and how much water you’re retaining, the more you will focus on losing fat, instead of simply losing weight. After all, losing water weight can lead to the appearance of losing fat, but in reality, you’re just temporarily dehydrating your body. Rather, analyzing body fat percentage is the best way to measure fitness.
Losing Fat Means Looking Away From the Scale
Anyone can lose weight, through a variety of different methods. For example, if you stopped eating altogether, or removed a couple of body parts, then your weight will have dropped the next time you look at the scale. Unfortunately, this is not a healthy approach to establishing a better physique. Simply failing to eat properly may mean that you lose weight, but often that weight will be made up of both unwanted fat, and necessary muscle. Your ultimate goal as a beginner in physical fitness should be to lose as much body fat as possible, while preserving, and even gaining muscle – particularly if you haven’t exercised for some time. Remember that it is your body fat percentage that shows your success, not the numbers on a scale.[Tweet “Remember that it is your body fat percentage that shows your success, not the numbers on a scale.”]
In fact, most experts recommend that people ignore their weight completely, as successful health regimens are often destroyed because of these meaningless numbers. When you start trying to get into shape, the tools that you should use to measure your process shouldn’t be scales. Instead, you’ll need body fat calipers, tape measures, pictures, and even examinations of how your clothes fit.
Muscle Is Vital To Losing Fat
Keep in mind that muscle is crucial to success in losing fat, as they are powerhouses for burning unwanted calories. Through mitochondria, fat can be metabolized, and there is a significant correlation between a person’s muscle percentage, and their potential to burn fat.
When you’re trying to create your perfect silhouette, or get healthier as a person, you shouldn’t worry so much about your weight. If you’re looking and feeling better, then the numbers on the scale shouldn’t matter. The only time you’ll have to worry about revealing your weight to someone is when you’re talking to an individual who can’t tell the difference between weight loss, and fat loss.
Marc Dressen, MSc
Personal Trainer in London
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