Losing Fat vs Losing Weight

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You often hear people use the term "weight loss". It is so common that is seems to be on the cover of just about every health and fitness magazine out there.

But what exactly is weight loss?

The term "weight loss" is slightly misleading. The most common way to quantify losing weight is to look at the numbers on the scale. It is easy to think that you have successfully lost fat if the numbers on the scale decrease.

Likewise, it is easy to think that you have gained fat if the numbers on the scale go up. While this is true in the simplest sense, it is not entirely accurate. Remember your total body weight is a combination of your muscle mass, water weight, bone mass, and everything else that your body is made up of.

The number on the scale is the sum total of several different aspects that make up your bodyweight. This is why the term 'weight loss' is misleading. The question is if the number on the scale decreases then how do you know if you have lost body fat, water weight, or muscle mass? The truth is that since our bodies are primarily made of water, the number on the scale fluctuates greatly due to our levels of hydration.

Point to Remember: From now on you want to focus on losing body fat, not just losing weight.

Sometimes your body retains water if you have a meal that is very high in sodium. You can look at the scale the next day and see that you are 3 lbs heavier, but that weight gain is based on excess water retained as a result of that meal and not 3lbs of pure body fat.

Likewise, sometimes people who start strength training for several weeks will feel their pants fitting more loosly, but the weight on the scale stays the same or maybe even goes up 2 or 3 lbs.

This is not purely the result of gaining body fat from exercise. It is a result of your body composition changing.

Body fat is also known as adipose tissue. It is your body's way of storing excess energy that can be used as fuel when needed. If you don't already have visible "six pack abs", it is because you have a layer of body fat on covering them. The truth is that everyone has defined abdominal muscles, but not everyone can see them. The most important aspect of this is to shift your thinking from "losing weight" to "changing your body composition". Changing your body composition means increasing your lean muscle mass, decreasing your body fat levels, and staying properly hydrated.

This whole concept relates back to abdominal training because it is relevant to the myth of "spot at is "Spot Reduction"?

Spot reduction is the idea that working certain muscles will make the fat covering them disappear. The obvious example for this topic is the idea that doing lots of crunches will help you lose the fat over your belly. Other examples would be doing the inner/outer thigh machine to try to lose fat around the hips or doing tricep exercises to lose the fat covering the triceps.

So, is spot reduction accurate or is it another one of those myths that have been perpetuated for a long time? If you are leaning towards the idea that it is a myth then congratulations, you are correct.

But the real question is why doesn't spot reduction work?

If you do 1000 crunches in a row, why would it not be enough to help you lose a few inches around your mid section?

While the exact number calories one will burn from doing crunches will differ from person to person it is safe to say the overall message is "not enough" (as we discussed earlier). If an exercise does not help you to burn significant calories then it is not going to be very conducive to losing body fat.

Spot reduction is simply a myth that goes along with the "more is better" mentality. Many people think that "the more crunches I do the more fat I will lose". As you know by now, that is certainly not the case. To lose body fat you have to focus on doing exercises that give you the most "bang for your buck" and having a nutrition plan that primes your body to use stored body fat as energy.


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