When it comes to weight loss, many people seem to want to shift those excess kilos as quickly as possible and they see this as the gold standard of results.
But whilst losing weight may be a sign that we are heading in the right direction, it does not always mean that we improving our body composition. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some people who would benefit from weight loss, and others who would benefit from both weight loss and fat loss.
In this post, I want to shed some light on the differences between attaining these two results, and how nutrition differs in each instance.
Weight loss – Aiming to lower the numbers on the scales.
Okay, this one is really simple: Calorie Deficit.
It doesn’t matter whether you are eating Chinese takeaway, pizza, burgers and chocolate every day (although I don’t recommend you do this), or have the most nutrient-dense intake on the planet.
Scientifically speaking, if you need to consume 2000 calories per day to maintain your weight, but you’re only consuming 1500 calories per day, then you will lose 1lb of weight each week.
The problem here, is although you can see a change on the scales – and in your head you may be super happy with this – you are very likely to have lost weight from both fat and muscle tissue, unless you are paying careful attention to the quality of the macronutrients as well as your training.
So in actual fact, the results in your overall body composition have actually either stayed the same, or possibly reduced in quality. This is not what we want!
Fat loss – Reducing fat mass (adipose tissue) in the body.
Now in most situations, what we really want to do is reduce our fat mass. Fat loss with a combination of weight loss is generally the ideal, but again, fat loss is the gold standard more often than not.
Here are some simple principles we have to follow to get the most out of our fat loss strategy…
- SIGNALLING MUSCLES TO GROW/PRESERVE MUSCLE TISSUE
You may be doing this already. You must be regularly taking part in resistance or higher intensity training in order to signal your muscles to grow/repair/preserve due to the new stresses you place on them. Your muscles are very clever, and will adapt as you gradually increase the stress over time (longer workouts, heavier weights, fewer rest periods, etc.)
- USING NUTRITION TO PRESERVE MUSCLE TISSUE
Here you need to be consuming enough good quality protein each day. I would also say to spread the protein intake out evenly throughout the day. If you consume 90g protein for breakfast, then very little for lunch and dinner, this won’t be as effective as consuming 30g during each of the three meals. Spacing protein intake evenly throughout the day will ensure your bloodstream carries a continuous source of protein to your muscles in order to repair and grow.
- CREATING THE CALORIE DEFICIT
Okay, so here’s the easy bit again. Think about what you have done so far… you have told your muscles to grow/preserve, and also provided them with all the protein needed for this to take place throughout the day. If you are in a calorie deficit, the only place your body has left to lose the weight by default is fat.
Hopefully you now have a really simple system to follow to enable you to enhance your body composition results through exercise and nutrition, rather than focusing solely on the number shown on the scales.
Also it’s worth asking yourself this question: If you lost no weight at all this month, but went down a belt/dress size or two, and everybody could visually see the difference in you, would you be happy? Of course you would!
Remember it’s not always all about weight loss. Your body is a complicated system. Hormones, hydration levels, stress levels and food in the gut are some factors which can affect your weight. Therefore, you cannot rely on body weight alone when assessing progress.
Ideally, steady weight loss is applicable to most of us, but don’t always use it as the only factor in assessing your results. Some weeks you may lose half a kilo of body fat, but gain half a kilo weight from fluid retention. So when you get on the scales, it looks like you’ve made no improvements. When in reality, you have!