Why It’s a Game-Changer to Know the Difference Between Losing Weight vs. Losing Fat

3 min read

Most diet plans and exercise programs promise one thing— weight loss.

While we may use the term “weight loss,” is that actually what our goal should be? For some people, weight loss can benefit their health, while for others, it could damage it. In addition, there are right and wrong ways to lose weight. How do we understand which is which? By understanding the difference between weight loss and fat loss.

What’s the Difference?

Weight loss, in and of itself, is simple. It is the number of calories burned minus your calorie intake. But, you may be wondering how something that seems so simple can be so difficult to do. That’s because there are three main ways to lose weight, and it’s crucial that you choose the right one.

Muscle Loss

You may have heard the myth that “muscle weighs more than fat.” However, the truth is that a pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat. That means if you gain muscle and lose fat in the process, you’ll likely see results in your appearance, but you may not see much difference in your body weight.

Muscle loss occurs when you focus too much on calorie restriction and cardio exercises and not enough on strength training. When you begin to lose muscle mass, this can harm your metabolism and insulin levels, ultimately resulting in muscle cells being replaced by fat cells.

Water Loss

Losing your “water weight” refers to when you lose weight by cutting carbs since carbs retain three times as much water as any other macronutrient. This type of weight loss will give you fast results, but the results will be short-lived. This will also cause your muscles to adapt to dehydration and shrink!

Fat Loss

Fat loss refers to the loss of actual fat cells or fat lipids. Think about it this way— instead of making the pounds disappear, you’re shedding fat and making the fat disappear.

If you really want to see results in your appearance and do what’s best for your overall health, your focus should be on fat loss.

How To Lose Fat

So, now that you know to focus on fat loss, you may be wondering how to do so. The answer is diet and exercise. But not just one or the other. You consistently have to be eating the right things and doing the right kinds of workouts if you want to lose fat and see results in your appearance and overall health.


In the past, I’ve talked about the dangers of a ketogenic diet and why crash diets don’t work. If you want to achieve your fat loss goals, you’ve got to eat a healthy, balanced, calorie-restricted diet that will promote muscle growth, ultimately helping you lose body fat.

And, as always, follow the 80/20 rule. Follow your diet plan 80% of the time, and don’t kick yourself if you let yourself cheat the other 20%.


Cardio is great for your heart health, but don’t believe the myth that it’s all you have to do to burn fat. The truth is, you need to focus on building muscle tissue with strength training if you want to see results.

I recommend 5 HIIT workouts per week until you meet your goal. Then, you can add back some low-impact workouts while continuing to do 2 to 3 HIIT workouts weekly. And don’t forget that if you want to keep up your progress, you’ll have to make exercise a long-term habit.

How To Track Your Fat Loss

Only paying attention to the number on your scale and worrying about those day-to-day weight fluctuations isn’t going to help you make progress. While it can be tricky to track weight loss, there are a few things that you can try.

Record Weight Over Time vs. Focusing on Daily Weight

Your weight is going to fluctuate daily. Focusing on this day-to-day weight loss and weight gain will only discourage you. So, if you’re going to weigh every day, record your weight so you can track fat loss over time.

Pay Attention to How Your Clothes Fit

After exercising and dieting for a while, you may notice your clothes getting looser. Being able to get those skinny jeans on without jumping all around your room is a serious win, even if your scale weight doesn’t look much different.

Take Body Measurements

One of the best ways to track your progress over time is to take body measurements. Use a tape measure to track your bust, chest, waist, hips, thighs, calves, upper arm, and forearm. I recommend you do this once a week or even once a month to see if you’re losing inches.

Choose McClure Fitness as Your Fat Loss Accountability

Whether you’re looking for workout classes to jumpstart your fat loss and build more muscle, or you need a team of people to cheer you on and hold you accountable as you make progress toward meeting your goals, you can find both at McClure Fitness. If you’re in the area, you can join us in person at our Benton Gym, and if you’re not, you can still join McClure Fitness Online and be a part of the McClure Fitness Family!