Weight Loss VS Fat Loss – Why the Scale isn’t the Best Indicator of Fitness
How much do you weigh, and why?
Body weight is often used as an indicator of fitness progress. When people attempt to change their physique and don’t see pounds coming off of the scale each week, they tend to get a little discouraged, even if they see progress during workouts or in the mirror.
This discouragement is based on the flaw of thinking that they must be losing weight in order to change their body composition. These individuals often forget about the fact that muscle, fat, bone, and water all play an important part in what number they see on the scale each week.
Body weight is about so much more than just fat.
Based on your fitness level, your weight comes from:
- Muscle: 30-55% of body weight
- Fat: 10-30% of body weight
- Water (not in muscle or fat): 10-25%
- Bone: 15% of body weight
- Organs, other tissues: 10-15%
The more you know about different variables (for example, how much water you’re retaining, and how big your muscles are), the more accurate “lose weight” applies to “lose fat.”
Losing water weight can lead to the appearance of losing fat, but in reality, body fat % is the most reliable way of telling your fitness – especially since you can do it without a scale!
“Muscle weighs more than fat.”
Everyone has heard it but how is it possible?
A person with the same belly circumference at 20% or 30% fat will have very different weights.
A lean person with more muscle might weight more than somebody who’s not so lean, because muscle is denser than fat (like iron is denser than water).
Your muscle accounts for about 30-55% of your body weight., and a pound of muscle will be about 4 times smaller than a pound of fat.
Make sure never to confuse “weight loss” with “fat loss” if you’re building muscle at the same time. This is “re-composition,” and requires slightly more complicated measurements to accurately assess your fitness (like body fat %).
“Water weight” is a buzz phrase thrown around any time body weight is mentioned. Your body is made of about 50-65% water, so water certainly does account for a large portion of your weight.
You can drop a few pounds quickly by losing water weight. Besides that, any type of significant dehydration is unhealthy and won’t last long.
In order to make a lasting impact on the water weight your body is retaining unnecessarily, reduce the amount of salt in your diet. and increase your water intake so that your body is more likely to release its excess fluid.
How fat affects Your Overall Weight
The amount of body fat on an individual can vary drastically between person to person. One individual may have a body fat percentage of 8%, while another may find themselves over 50%.
Body fat has less density than muscle and bone. It also burns less calories at rest than muscle does. One pound of muscle burns around 6 calories per day, whereas one pound of fat only burns about 2 calories per day.
Muscle burns fat while you’re doing nothing
Think about that.
If you want to lose weight quickly, by all means focus on a fat burning program.
If you want to set your body up to have a higher resting metabolism and burn passively on a regular basis, condition your body for strength training, and exercise regularly.
8fit’s core plans are for bodyweight exercises you can do anywhere with no equipment.
There are many ways to build muscle without weights, but at some point, if you really want to focus on building muscle, you will need to add extra resistance or get creative.
If so, we got your back! We plan to roll out advanced muscle building routines and, in the mean time, have personal trainers who can guide you if you’re already at this phase.
What Role Does Bone Play in Body Weight?
You are made of much more than muscle and fat; without bones, you’d just be a blob! That would make it impossible to do much of anything, let alone reach your fitness goals.
Your bones account for about 15% of your total body weight. If you carry a lot of weight on your frame, odds are that your bones are bigger and stronger than someone with less weight and a smaller frame.
Strong bones are a good thing. They help prevent osteoporosis and enable you to move through your daily activities without difficulties. They are also great tools to help pack on muscle and keep off excess fat!
The Fallacy of Measuring Body Weight Only
As you can see, body weight is affected by many factors. If you eat too much salt one day, your body weight the next day could be off; if you gain muscle and lose fat over the course of a month, you may see your body weight rise, even though you look better in the mirror.
Tracking body weight is a useful measure only if someone knows how their weight is being affected.
For example, measure your body fat percentage and weight each week over the course of a month. You might notice that, although your body fat percentage has stayed the same, your weight has gone up. If you aren’t bloated with water weight, this is a good general indicator that you are building muscle.
If you aren’t able to consistently monitor things like your body fat percentage, it may be helpful to pay attention to specifically measurable aspects of your workouts. Record the amount of time it takes you to run a certain distance or do a certain amount of repetitions of an exercise. The next time you do that workout, attempt to beat your previous bests. If you can do this, you have concrete evidence of fitness progress regardless of the number on the scale.
Focus on consistently making progress, whether it’s with your body fat percentage, workout time, or quantity of reps of an exercise. As long as you maintain a regular practice and have accurate tracking, you’ll have clarity about how much you’ve achieved, and exactly what you’ll need to do to reach your goals.