How to Tell the Difference

Weight loss refers to a lower in your total physique weight from muscle, water, and fats losses.

Fat loss refers to weight reduction from fats, and it’s a extra particular and healthful aim than weight reduction.

However, it may be troublesome to know whether or not you’re shedding pounds from fats or muscle.

This article explains why fats loss is extra necessary than weight reduction, how one can inform the distinction between the 2, and offers ideas for dropping fats and sustaining muscle.

It’s frequent observe to track your weight reduction progress utilizing a scale.

While this may be useful, most scales don’t differentiate between fats loss and muscle loss.

For that motive, monitoring solely your weight isn’t a dependable solution to decide whether or not you’re dropping fats or muscle and in what quantities.

Conversely, a body fat scale can present a extra correct image of your physique composition by measuring the share of fats and muscle you may have.

You may also use skinfold calipers to estimate your physique fats proportion, however this takes observe to make sure accuracy (1).


Instead of solely counting on the dimensions, you need to use a physique fats scale or skinfold caliper to raised perceive your physique composition and monitor your progress.

Many weight reduction applications declare that will help you drop some weight rapidly and simply.

However, it’s necessary to comprehend {that a} vital quantity of this weight could embrace water and muscle losses (2, 3).

Losing muscle could be detrimental, as muscle is a vital part of your total well being.

Maintaining a wholesome proportion of muscle has a number of advantages, equivalent to regulating wholesome blood sugar ranges, sustaining wholesome fats ranges — like triglycerides and ldl cholesterol — within the blood, and controlling irritation.

Indeed, a number of research have linked a better fat-to-muscle ratio to persistent ailments like metabolic syndrome, coronary heart illness, and diabetes (4, 5, 6).

Maintaining your muscle mass might also scale back your danger of age-related muscle loss, which ends up in frailty and probably incapacity (7).

Additionally, the extra muscle you may have, the extra energy you burn at relaxation. This is the primary motive why males typically have larger calorie wants than ladies (8).

Consequently, shedding pounds within the type of muscle can lower the variety of energy you burn at relaxation, making it simpler to regain any weight you misplaced within the type of fats (9).


Emphasizing fats loss slightly than weight reduction can lower the chance of a number of persistent ailments, assist scale back the chance of age-related muscle loss, and scale back fats regain.

There are a number of easy methods to make sure you’ll drop some weight within the type of fats and both keep or acquire muscle mass.

These embrace consuming loads of protein, exercising frequently, and following a nutrient-dense food plan that places you in a slight calorie deficit.

Eat loads of protein

Protein is an important nutrient for quite a lot of bodily capabilities.

It’s essential to make enzymes that assist with digestion and vitality manufacturing, regulate fluid steadiness, and help immune well being, amongst different capabilities.

Protein can also be necessary for sustaining the muscle you may have and supporting new muscle development, particularly when shedding pounds.

In one 4-week examine, younger males had been randomized to eat a low calorie food plan containing both 0.55 or 1.1 grams of protein per pound (1.2 or 2.4 grams per kg) of physique weight mixed with an intense train coaching program (10).

While each teams misplaced a big quantity of weight, the lads who consumed the upper protein food plan misplaced 2.9 kilos (1.3 kg) extra fats mass and gained 2.4 kilos (1.1 kg) extra muscle than males who consumed the decrease protein food plan.

Importantly, the examine discovered that top depth resistance train adopted by a excessive protein restoration snack made probably the most distinction. Also, it restricted the lads’s fats consumption to create a calorie deficit and maintained their carb consumption for enough train gas.

And whereas consuming loads of protein with a decreased calorie food plan with out weight coaching could not make it easier to acquire muscle, it could make it easier to keep muscle whereas growing fats loss.

A assessment of 20 research involving women and men ages 50 years and older discovered {that a} high protein diet containing at the very least 0.68 grams per pound (1 gram per kg) led to extra muscle mass retention and fats loss than a decrease protein food plan (11).

While protein wants differ relying in your age, well being, intercourse, and bodily exercise degree, consuming protein within the vary of 0.45–0.73 grams per pound (1–1.6 grams per kg) of physique weight per day can help muscle mass retention and fats loss with weight-reduction plan (11, 12, 13).

For reference, the advisable dietary allowance for protein is 0.36 grams per pound (0.8 grams per kg) of physique weight per day.


Exercise is the simplest solution to encourage fats loss slightly than muscle loss.

A assessment of 6 research discovered that older adults with weight problems who engaged in cardio and weight coaching at the very least 3 occasions per week whereas following a calorie-restricted food plan retained 93% extra of their muscle than those that didn’t train (14).

Certainly, train alone is an efficient technique to take care of muscle mass with weight-reduction plan, however combining train with a better protein consumption could assist optimize your outcomes (10, 15).

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans advocate adults get at the very least 150–300 minutes per week of cardio and muscle-strengthening actions that contain all main muscle teams (16).

Follow a decreased calorie food plan

To drop some weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. You can create a calorie deficit by consuming fewer energy or exercising, however ideally each.

However, reducing your energy an excessive amount of can result in a higher lack of muscle slightly than fats.

Instead, intention to reasonably scale back the variety of energy you eat by 500–600 per day to attenuate muscle loss whereas nonetheless facilitating fats loss (17, 18).

You can scale back the variety of energy you eat by consuming extra fruits, greens, complete grains, lean protein meals, low fats dairy, and fewer sugar-sweetened merchandise and drinks, processed meats, and fried meals (19, 20).


You can prioritize fats loss and maximize muscle retention by consuming loads of protein and exercising frequently alongside a decreased calorie food plan.

Weight loss refers to a lower in your total physique weight, whereas fats loss refers to weight reduction that happens particularly from losses in fats mass.

A physique fats scale or skinfold caliper is extra helpful for monitoring fats loss than monitoring your physique weight alone.

Other easy methods to entry fats loss embrace measuring inches or centimeters misplaced out of your waist and hips and noting any modifications in how your garments match round your waist.

Losing weight within the type of fats slightly than muscle must be the precedence given how necessary your fat-to-muscle ratio is to your total well being.

You can prioritize fats loss by consuming loads of protein, exercising, and moderately restricting your energy.

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