Fat Loss Vs Weight Loss

Woman drinking protein shake

Weight loss refers to a decrease in your overall body weight from muscle, water, and fat losses. Fat loss refers to weight loss from fat, and it's a more specific and healthier goal than weight loss.

However, it can be difficult to know whether you're losing weight from fat or muscle.

This article explains why fat loss is more important than weight loss, how you can tell the difference between the two, and provides tips for losing fat and maintaining muscle.

Ways tell whether you're losing fat

It's common practice to track your weight loss progress using a scale. While this can be helpful, most scales don't differentiate between fat loss and muscle loss.

For that reason, tracking only your weight isn't a reliable way to determine whether you're losing fat or muscle and in what amounts.

However, a body fat scale can provide a more accurate picture of your body composition by measuring the percentage of fat and muscle you have.

Another important tool for measuring fat loss is a simple tape measure. Measuring around the waist, top of the leg and bust (for ladies) is an important part of tracking your progress.

Focus on fat loss, not weight loss

Many weight loss programs claim to help you lose weight quickly and easily. However, it's important to realize that a significant amount of this weight may include water and muscle losses.

Losing muscle can be detrimental, as muscle is a crucial component of your overall health.

Maintaining a healthy percentage of muscle has several benefits, such as regulating healthy blood sugar levels, maintaining healthy fat levels - like triglycerides and cholesterol - in the blood, and controlling inflammation.

Maintaining your muscle mass may also reduce your risk of age-related muscle loss, which results in frailty and potentially disability.

Additionally, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. This is the main reason why men generally have higher calorie needs than women.

Consequently, losing weight in the form of muscle can decrease the number of calories you burn at rest, making it easier to regain any weight you lost in the form of fat.

How to lose fat and maintain or gain muscle

There are a few simple ways to ensure you'll lose weight in the form of fat and either maintain or gain muscle mass. These include eating plenty of protein, exercising regularly, and following a nutrient-dense diet.

Eat plenty of protein

Protein is important for maintaining the muscle you have and supporting new muscle growth, especially when losing weight.

Eating plenty of protein with a reduced calorie diet without weight training may not help you gain muscle, but it may help you maintain muscle while increasing fat loss.


Exercise is the most effective way to encourage fat loss rather than muscle loss.

While exercise alone is an effective strategy to maintain muscle mass with dieting, combining exercise with a higher protein intake may help optimize your results.

Final Thoughts

Weight loss refers to a decrease in your overall body weight, whereas fat loss refers to weight loss that occurs specifically from losses in fat mass. A body fat scale and/or a simple tape measure are more useful for monitoring fat loss than tracking your body weight alone.

Losing weight in the form of fat rather than muscle should be the priority given how important your fat-to-muscle ratio is to your overall health.