Weight Loss -vs- Fat Loss

The Key Difference Between Weight & Fat Loss

When it comes to this health, fitness and nutrition stuff, we decide to take action, get started and begin changing what we are doing for very specific and personal reasons.

It’s that “ah-ha” moment we realize we are READY AND WANTING to feel a certain way, look a certain way or a combination of both.

Think about it:

  • You have been holidaying HARD and need help improving your health and getting back on track.

  • New Year, New YOU! You pledge to make this year different and finally start exercising and eating better.

  • You wake up feeling tired and sluggish and want to have more energy to not just get through the day, but to spend with people you love, doing what makes you happy.

  • You have been caring for your family and everyone else for the past too many years to count. You realize it’s time to get back to YOU and are excited about feeling better in your own skin and overall, just being healthier.

Why does this matter?

Having a goal is important for many reasons:

  1. You understand exactly what you’re working to achieve.

  2. You can create a very specific plan so you know exactly what to do to achieve the goal.

  3. It keeps you accountable. Understanding what you’re working to achieve and why it’s important is empowering and motivating!

But before setting your goal, it’s important to understand what you’re working to achieve. In today’s blog, we’re going to explain the difference between weight loss and fat loss since they are two common goals.

While both weight loss and fat loss could result in your scale weight going down, it’s important to note they each have drastically different effects on your physical appearance and performance.

Let me break down the difference for you:

  • What is weight loss? A loss of overall body weight. This lost weight can include combinations of muscle, water and fat.

  • What is fat loss? Fat loss is the reduction of body fat. Fat loss is what most people will be aiming for when wanting to reduce their body size.

Here is a visual:



Most of us say one thing “I want to lose weight” when in reality our goals have to do with losing body fat. For example:

  • You want to become leaner or “toned”

  • You want those muscles in your arm to pop and be more visible; showing off your definition

  • You want your clothes to fit better.

  • You want to get rid of your mid section.

So….is it “weight loss” or “fat loss” you are looking for?

Keep reading to understand the difference and WHAT you need to do to get there!


Your weight is simply the sum of all your parts. Weight loss is a scientifically proven, mathematical equation based on the direct relationship between the volume of calories you eat versus volume of calories you burn through physical activity and exercise.

If your goal is to lose weight, you will need to burn more calories than you are consuming. This is known as a calorie deficit. You can achieve a calorie deficit by reducing the calories you are consuming, increasing calories burned or a combination of both.

If rapid weight loss and seeing the scale weight go down is your goal, all you need to do is keep eating less and less until the number you are looking for pops up on the scale. This is extreme dieting and as a coach, I do NOT recommend this approach because it’s NOT healthy or sustainable. This type of behavior leads to:

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Severe mood swings

  • Loss of focus, concentration and productivity

  • Promotes an unhealthy relationship with food

  • Deprives your body from the nutrients it needs to survive and properly function

Plus, the weight you lost will more than likely be a combination of water, muscle tissue (boo), and MAYBE some body fat.


Fat loss has everything to do with your body composition: muscle to fat ratio. Losing body fat is a more complex equation compared to weight loss and is impacted by more than calories being consumed and burned. In fact, when it comes to losing body fat, the quality of foods you consume will be equally as important as the quantity.

Let that marinate for a minute. If needed, read that again!

In order to attain long-term, sustainable fat loss, you should also aim to preserve as much muscle as possible while reducing body fat. This is achieved by eating the proper foods in the right quantities.

That’s right! Eating the proper foods in the recommended portions is your one way ticket to saving that muscle so you can enjoy being and staying strong forever!

Note: If you are wondering what I mean when I say “preserve muscle”, let me explain.

  • Being strong and continuously building more strength, more muscle, and increasing bone density is of the utmost importance, especially as we age.

  • Having muscle and being strong isn’t about being a bodybuilder or crazy weight-lifting competitor either. Having and preserving muscle equates to LIVING BETTER and OPTIMAL HEALTH!

  • Preserving muscle guarantees you are able to continue daily activities with ease. Think hauling groceries, picking up kids/grandkids, and moving well without being in pain when using the stairs, walking or getting out of bed.

  • The most effective tool for getting stronger, building muscle and preserving that goodness is through strength training; exactly what we do at Results Fitness! Your goal is to strength train at least 3 days/week.

  • Using weights or any type of resistance provides the exact stimulus our bodies need to create change, build muscle and get stronger. Plus, muscle burns fat so if your goals are fat loss, you definitely want to have muscle!. Cardio based exercise programs are not effective tools to achieve any of this.

Now back to preserving that muscle: You want to be eating real, nutrient-dense foods with a healthy balance of each of the macronutrients: lean proteins, smart carbohydrates and heart-healthy fats.

In addition to these macronutrients, veggies are equally important! Fill up half of your plate with all the veggies when preparing a meal. Along with a consistently well-balanced diet, quality sleep, stress reduction, proper hydration, and exercise (hello strength training!) are included in this fat loss equation as well.

Just like weight loss, a calorie deficit is also necessary to attain fat loss. However, being consistent with well-balanced meals in proper quantities and the other factors listed above ensures you are losing body fat AND preserving precious muscle mass.


Now that you understand the difference between weight loss and fat loss, let’s talk about how to set healthy goals for each.

#1. First, start with an achievable goal:

  • Fat Loss: A reasonable expectation will be about 1-2% of body fat loss per month

  • Weight Loss: A reasonable expectation is about 1-2 pounds of body weight per week.

**Remember, these are just averages. You may experience similar losses or, you may see a slower loss.

#2. Second, stay patient and be consistent:

  • Change takes time and will not happen overnight. That is OK so manage expectations accordingly.

  • Shift your mind set and set yourself up for success by committing to this process for the long haul. It’s going to take more than a few days of exercising and eating better. It’s going to take months (and beyond).

  • Consistency is KING! This isn’t something you do Monday-Friday and pause during the weekend. Making these changes requires you consistently practice healthy habits 80%-90% of the time IF you are serious about making changes and achieving your goal.

#3. Lastly, set realistic expectations and accept things fluctuate:

  • Fat loss is rarely linear. It’s common for your body to fluctuate from day to day. so because of this, you will want to watch for an overall downward trend over time.

  • If you are the type to regularly weigh yourself, keep in mind there are lots of variables affecting your weight one day to the next: high sodium foods, menstrual cycles, constipation, water retention…the list goes on!

  • If you use the scale as one way to track progress, totally cool. As a coach, my recommendation is using the scale weekly instead of daily knowing how much your weight will fluctuate and how frustrated it can feel when you don’t see the number you want or expect.


What I am about to share with you are very BIG misconceptions about the number on the scale. This is questions and feedback we hear often so please pay very close attention!

Most of us believe and have convinced ourselves if the scale weight doesn’t budge or heck, even goes up, that NOTHING is changing and our efforts are all in vain. Immediately, we look for another solution, quick fix or extreme method for hitting our goal when in fact, we need to stay the course because of what I am about to share.

If the scale weight is not changing or, is going up, that DOES NOT mean your body isn’t changing. Read this again and again and again. Seriously, read that again.

Here’s what you NEED to know:

  • Did you know you can be losing inches, losing body fat and increasing muscle mass all while the scale does not budge one single pound? In fact, the scale could even go up as you’re becoming leaner and losing body fat (MIND BLOWN) so don’t feel discouraged when stepping on the scale because it’s not giving you the feedback you’re looking for.

  • For these reasons and many more, it is super important to track progress in a multitude of ways. The scale and your bodyweight at that moment in time only tell a teeny tiny portion of the big picture. This is why body measurements and progress pictures are two highly effective tools for tracking progress. Pictures do not lie. Tape measures do not lie.

So remember, in order to attain long-term, sustainable fat loss, eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods, strength train at least 3 days/week, get quality sleep, stay hydrated, reduce stress, and last but not least, BE PATIENT!

Change is a PROCESS and takes time. Our bodies are different and our progress or rate of weight/fat loss should NOT be compared to anyone else. The worst thing you could do is constantly change your approach for hitting your goals. Consistency will be the difference between achieving and falling short of hitting your goals.


Stay Fueled

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