The Difference Between Weight Loss and Fat Loss

It’s so important to set health, fitness and physique goals.

These goals give you the sense of purpose and motivation you need to keep going. But are you sure you know how to name your goals correctly?

Do you truly know and understand the difference between weight loss and fat loss? You should know. Because your current body composition is the biggest determining factor when trying to decide if you should lose weight or lose body fat. And this, in turn, dictates what type of exercise and nutrition programme you should follow.

Body weight

This refers to the mass of your entire body, including fat, muscle, bone, organs, fluid and skin. It’s commonly measured in kilograms.

Body fat

Your body fat is the sum total of all your adipose and fat tissue, most commonly expressed as your body fat percentage. Fat can be found all over the body, under the skin (subcutaneous), around organs and the abdomen (visceral), in muscle and in the blood stream. It’s categorised into essential and stored body fat.

Essential body fat is necessary to maintain life and reproductive functions, so you can never have 0% body fat. As women have more reproductive functions this also means that their ideal percentage will always be greater than that of men. Essential fat in women is around 8–12%, which makes this the absolute lowest threshold limit for females (but a healthy level should exceed this threshold).

Stored body fat consists of fat accumulation in adipose tissue.

So, as you can see there is a clear distinction between weight and fat. Often your weight may increase, but your body fat may decrease, or you may lose weight but pick up body fat. As such, clearly defining your goal is essential to ensure you take the appropriate action to achieve it – and never only rely on what the scale tells you.

Learn more about how to calculate your calories requirements here.


Author: Tanja Schmitz

Co-Publisher at Maverick Media and until recently, Fitness Magazine editor. Tanja now manages multiple digital platforms, consults and create exciting campaigns and opportunities in the fitness industry. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.