Should You Be Losing Weight Or Should You Be Losing Fat

Should You Be Losing Weight Or Should You Be Losing Fat?

Some time ago, I had someone come to me and ask about weight loss. They needed to lose 10 pounds in order prepare for joining the military. This brought up some really good thoughts about the common misperceptions about weight loss…

…and I want to share those misperceptions with you, today so that you have a better idea about what you really want – weight loss or fat loss.

Weightloss vs Fatloss

The entire weight loss topic is a contentious one – especially as we get older!  A lot of people use the terms “weight loss” and “fat loss” interchangeably as though they are the same thing.

Unfortunately, they are not.

By the time you finish reading this article today, I hope that you will understand the difference between weight loss and fat loss. I also hope that you will know which one you should go for when trying to “get your skinny back.”

So, Let’s Start Off With The Foundational Difference Between Weight Loss And Fat Loss

What exactly is weight loss?

Well, weight loss is exactly what it sounds like. It’s loss of weight, and it may or may not include fat. You can lose water weight, which happens a lot when people get sick and have diarrhea or nausea/vomiting.

And if you are not eating enough protein or exercising enough, you can also lose muscle weight through muscle atrophy.

Finally, gross as it might sound, you can also lose weight depending on what is in your bowel or your bladder. Every time you go to the bathroom, you lose a little bit (or a lot) of weight.

So, as you can see, relying just on your overall weight as an indicator of how healthy you are is an unreliable way of knowing what’s happening in your body. Now that we have that clear, let’s talk about fat loss.

What exactly is fat loss?

Fat loss is, again, exactly what it sounds like: It’s the loss of excess fat from your body. When you lose fat, most of the time, you will also lose weight. I say “most of the time” because you can gain muscle while you lose fat, and that won’t always result in a loss of overall weight

Anyway…there’s no reason to belabor this point. I am sure you are clear on what fat loss is.

So, what I want to do now is to talk a bit about what fat is, how it helps (and sometimes hurts) your body, and how to get rid of the excess fat you’re carrying.

What Is Fat?

I believe that the goal for everyone who starts exercising should be to lose fat. If you want to be more fit and either maintain a healthy weight or to lose unwanted weight, what you really want to do is manage or lose excess fat.

But what is fat, and how does it get inside your body, anyway?

Well, fat is found in lots of places on your body. Generally, it’s found under your skin, and it has the purpose of regulating whether or not you are cold or warmth. It’s like an assistant you your skin in this manner.

Additionally, fat is found around or on top of some of your organs like your kidneys. It’s there for organ protection and cushioning.

Fat is also stored inside some of your organs, like your liver. Very little is stored in your muscles.

The purpose of fat in your body is multi-fold.

  • Fat stores energy for when you don’t have access to food: It fuels your brain and your muscles, and it ensures that you have the nutrients you need to get through the day.
  • Fat helps your body use the vitamins you consume in your diet or in pill form: There are vitamins that cannot function the way they are supposed to without fat. These types of vitamins are called “fat-soluble,” and they just won’t work unless there is fat. Some example of fat soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  • Fat keeps you warm and your organs safe: Fat makes sure that your body temperature is what it should be. It also ensures that your internal organs are protected from jarring impact.

These are all the good things that fat does for your body. On the other hand, what you might not realize is that, while some amount of fat serves its purpose, too much of it is unhealthy for you.

Here’s Where Fat Store Go Wrong For Your Body

Whenever you eat food, it gets converted to one of three things – amino acids, fatty acids, or glucose.

Proteins get broken down into amino acids, which are then processed by your liver and turned into glucose for energy. Fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates, which are also broken down into glucose for energy.

Finally, fatty foods like nuts are broken down into fatty acids.

I could give you a long, very-sciency description of what happens next, but I won’t. I’ll just shorten it by telling you that excess glucose gets turned into fatty acids, and excess fatty acids get stored in your body as fat cells.

This is why it’s so important to be careful about how many calories you take in on a day to day basis. Your body really cannot handle an overload of calories. It simply holds onto anything excess and turns it directly into fat.

Not only that, but while it’s quick and easy for your body to create fat cells, it takes a lot of work to “melt” fat. This is probably something that you’re already aware of, and it is a big part of the reason why the weight loss industry is so big.

But How Can You Purposely Create And Track Fat Loss?

Bodyfat tracking

Each pound of fat that is stored in your body holds around 3,500 calories of energy. If you were overweight and had only water to drink but didn’t have ready access to food, your fat stores would take over and make sure that you survived from day to day, hopefully, until you could get food again.

But most of us aren’t in a place where we are starving.

So we need a good way to track fat loss. There are ultrasound body fat scanners, skinfold calipers, and all sorts of tools out there that you can use to measure fat and keep up with fat loss.

Often, when people first start trying to lose weight, they try to “out-train a bad diet.” This is a bad idea because it’s not very healthy to continue eating poorly if you’re trying to lose fat. That’s not healthy.

He fact is that the only people who can successfully out-train their bad diets are those who are working out pretty intensely for hours every day, like Olympic athletes, professional boxers, or other professional sports enthusiasts.

For the average person, it’s just not realistic or sustainable for the long haul to try to out train your bad diet. You’d basically have to exercise and workout for a living if you really wanted to make this work for yourself.

The better way to purposely lose fat and make tracking that fat loss worth your time is to learn how to incorporate more water, vegetables, and lean protein into your diet along with exercise 2-4 times per week as your schedule dictates.

If you really only have 30 minutes to an hour per day to exercise, the hard truth is that the key to your fat loss is going to be found in your diet.

Bottom Line – Work On Losing Fat And Stop Worrying So Much About Your Weight

That’s really the bottom line advice that I give to people who want to lose weight. Don’t worry so much about your weight. Be more concerned with fat loss.

Weight and fat are simply not the same.

Now, one thing I will say is that muscle is heavier than fat, so if you start any type of strength training, you might notice that your weight stays the same even while your body composition is improving.

Your belly fat will decrease. Your hips and thighs will look more slender and strong, and you’ll start to really enjoy the way that you look in the mirror. These are all things that happen when you start to lose fat.

All you have to do is do enough of the right kinds of exercise, eat real food, know what macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fats) you need on a daily basis, get enough rest, and drink more water. These are incredibly important for fat loss, weight loss, and body recomposition.

I hope that this article has been useful to you and that you’re informed about why weight loss is so much less important that fat loss in the greater scheme of things.


The Garage Warrior



  1. “Weight Loss Vs. Fat Loss: Are You Sure You’re Losing Fat?” Mehdi. Feb. 5, 2015.
  2. “Three Functions of Fat in the Body.” Anne, Melodie. Jul. 3, 2012.
  3. “Simple Science: How Body Fat Gets Created.” Jonathan. Apr. 19, 2012.