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Fat Loss Vs. Weight Loss

author image M. Gideon Hoyle
M. Gideon Hoyle is a writer living outside of Houston. Previously, he produced brochures and a wide variety of other materials for a nonprofit educational foundation. He now specializes in topics related to health, exercise and nutrition, publishing for various websites.
Fat Loss Vs. Weight Loss
A muscular man and woman are lifting weights. Photo Credit: Samo Trebizan/iStock/Getty Images

Fat is an energy-rich substance found in varying amounts in almost all types of food. It is also the substance your body uses to store the excess calories from the foods in your diet. Typically, when you lose this excess fat, you also lose weight. However, in some cases, you can lose fat and maintain the same body weight, or even gain weight.

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Fat Basics

In addition to supplying you with energy, fat forms part of cell membranes throughout your body and helps you respond properly to insulin, a hormone that allows you to regulate glucose in your bloodstream. However, when you eat too much fat or consume the wrong types of fat, you can gain weight and increase your risk of heart disease and other serious ailments. Unhealthy fats in your diet include saturated fats and a man-made substance called trans fat. Relatively healthy fats in your diet include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Fat Loss

Each pound of fat on your body contains roughly 3,500 calories of food energy. To lose this fat, you will need to burn off more calories than you consume in your daily diet. Typically, this goal is most easily achieved by making reductions in your calorie intake and increasing the amount of exercise you get each week. You can lower your calorie total by eating less food or choosing foods that contain fewer calories. You can increase your activity level by participating regularly in moderate forms of aerobic exercise, such as biking or brisk walking, or by participating regularly in strength training exercises such as weightlifting and body weight exercises or calisthenics.

Weight Loss

Aerobic exercise helps you burn off fat calories by making your muscles work harder than usual for limited periods of time. Strength training exercises, on the other hand, help you burn off fat by increasing your body’s supply of muscle tissue. This works because muscle tissue burns through calories relatively quickly, and increasing the size of your muscles amplifies your body’s calorie-burning capacity. Participation in either aerobics or strength training can lead to weight loss. However, muscle tissue is also quite heavy, and individuals who lose fat through strength training can potentially gain weight despite depleting their fat reserves.


Despite the potential for weight gain associated with strength training, individuals who regularly perform these exercises typically improve their body composition, or ratio of lean tissue to fat. Having a good lean-to-fat ratio is a good indicator of overall physical fitness, according to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and provides a better gauge of your general health than simply weighing less than you did before. Consult your doctor and a nutritionist for more information on losing fat by changing your diet. Consult your doctor and a fitness specialist for more information on fat loss through exercise.

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