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17 Feb
2014
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Weight Loss is Not the Same as Fat Loss

 

The real problem with losing weight in general, is that the focus is on totally the wrong thing. You don’t actually want to lose weight, what you want to lose is fat. When you lose fat the weight takes care of itself. It truly doesn’t matter what you weigh, as long as your mirror reflects back to you a body that pleases you.

When you focus on losing fat rather than weight, the waistline takes care of itself. If you build muscle at the same time, then body-shape moves towards what looks attractive all by itself. Your body knows how to look good. It just can’t manage it when you cover it in fat.

Does that mean throw away the scales?

No, the scales can be a useful tool as long as you remember what they are measuring – total body weight. Pound for pound, muscle takes up one-fifth less space than fat. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it makes a huge difference. Muscle tissue is also smoother and less ‘lumpy’ than fat so replacing fat with muscle gives the body a smoother look.

Businesses like Weight Watchers focus on reducing body weight by doing a weekly weigh-in. The start of a diet often produces a dramatic weight loss in the first week or two – this is hugely encouraging – and the likes of Weight Watchers use this to convince you that what they do works. In fact it is mostly water loss and that happens when you drastically reduce calorie intake, or change the kinds of food you eat. Of course once the water is gone, you suffer dehydration, drink more, and in subsequent weeks struggle to lose weight. But that early success has you hooked on that Weight Loss System and you are subtly encouraged to feel that your failure is actually all down to you – not the flawed Weight Loss System you are using.

Even if you are aware of the body fat problem and use a scale that measures body fat, you are likely to be misled. These scales work by measuring the electrical resistance of your body and using that information to carry out a body fat percentage calculation. The trouble is that electrical resistance is affected by the amount of water in your body and so as you lose a lot of water at the beginning of a diet you can be fooled into thinking that you have lost body fat.

We tend to believe numbers and electronic gizmos without question – especially when we have spent a lot of money on a hi-tec body fat measuring scale like the Tanita BC-587 that costs around £300. The truth is that these devices are wildly inaccurate and not worth spending your money on.

A much cheaper option to gauge body fat is the mirror you probably already have in your bedroom.

 

Normal body fat percentages for women

Body Builder 8-9%

Female Athlete 18-20%

Normal 25% – 30%

Obese 30%+


Normal body fat percentages for men

Body Builder 3-4%

Male Athlete 10%

Normal 18% – 25%

Obese 25%+

 

How you look is a pretty good guide and once you are over the 30% it’s going to be hard, but worthwhile, work to get that number down.

Still it’s nice to have some numbers and to keep a record so that when you feel the urge to eat there is something to look at to keep you motivated.

One the cheapest solutions for measuring body fat is a set of body fat callipers like the Accu Measure which is only around a fiver (plus postage). With these you grab a lump of skin around your hips and use this simple piece of equipment to measure the thickness of the skin fold. This then allows you to calculate your body fat percentage. Or if that is too complicated just use it to keep track of the skin thickness measurement and watch it shrink as you lose fat.

Measuring skin fat, and focusing on building muscle, as you lose weight guarantees that the weight lost is fat and not muscle. So you get a much greater reward for your efforts at changing your eating habits.

And if you want an easy way to change those eating habits for good then check out my book How to Lose Weight Easily and Free Yourself from Diets Forever which sets out 10 easy steps to set you on the right track to permanent weight loss without any food restrictions. If you are curious about how you can eat what you want and still lose weight then check it out.

For an in-depth look at this subject:

http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2012/07/02/body-fat-percentage/

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