What's the difference and what should you want?
Weight Loss versus Fat Loss can be a very confusing subject. A lot of people don't know the difference or how to exercise for a specific goal. Too many times I see ads or commercials for some new gimmick guaranteed for you to lose weight. The fitness industry is very confusing and misleading at times. Everyone wants that quick fix for being overweight or "overfat". So they run to the gym with their new plan of taking these magical supplements they saw on TV. Then they start running or walking on the treadmill for hours. Well at the end some do lose weight, but at what cost? Did you just shrink to a smaller & weaker version of what you were before? If that’s your goal then great. But should that be your goal, or should you work towards something better?
Losing weight is pretty simple. Eat less, for most people, and move more. That’s it. Typically if you are losing weight by cutting calories and doing endless hours of cardio you are dropping fat and MUSCLE. Thinking, 'Muscle?!?! How am I losing muscle?! I’m exercising.' Correct you are exercising but you are stimulating your cardiovascular system more. Improving your cardiovascular fitness is very important, that cardio is doing what its meant to. Improving heart health and burning calories. And if your eating less calories than you did, then you should be in a caloric deficit and the scale should go down.
As you are losing that weight are you still looking soft and flabby? Well, that’s because you lost muscle mass in that one goal of losing weight. The muscles were not stimulated enough to stick around and sometimes the body needs a better fuel source for energy than fat; therefore, dipping into muscle for that energy. Losing muscle is not a good thing. The muscles keep the body moving. They keep you playing with your kids, carrying those groceries, and keep you looking younger longer. The goal should be to lose body fat not just body weight.
So what is fat loss? Basically it is also what it sounds like, losing body fat. Using both cardiovascular fitness and weight training to lose body fat. If you don’t use the muscle you will lose it. A good mix of lifting weights and cardio is the optimal strategy for changing the way you look and feel. Putting on some muscle only helps the fat burning process. 1 lb of muscle tissue burns 2.5 times more calories than 1 lb of fat at rest. More muscle = more calories burned. Strength training not only improves your muscle tone but it will improve your sleep, mood, cognitive function, body composition, and decrease anxiety and stress. As an added bonus from strength training, aka: weight lifting, you benefit from the after burn. That’s not a made up meat head term, its real. The after burn is a researched and studied effect that happens after a high intensity exercise bout. The metabolism stays higher for 72 hrs after. Don’t be afraid to lift some weight and push yourself either. I have said this before, ladies you are not going to look like a man. Get in there and use those heavy weights or machines and get stronger. Every time you go to the gym you want to shoot for one more rep or a little more weight lifted with the same amount of reps. Get those PRs. Strength training is the fountain of youth. Its all we have that comes close to a fountain at least.
So a good plan of strength training and cardiovascular exercise is your best plan to drop unwanted body fat and change your entire appearance. Start with an even amount of both, lift three times a week and do some cardio three times a week. Not only change your exercise routine to improve your health but stress management, hormone balance, sleep , recovery and having a balanced home life will also do wonders. What did we learn? Losing body weight is OK but losing body fat and getting stronger is better and more optimal for quality of life. As always be consistent, the best exercise are the ones you will do and the best nutrition plan is the one you will follow.
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