Working within the fitness industry you tend to come across a lot of opinions that are quite misinformed to say the least. These can range from ideas on "which exercises work which muscles" and "should I eat before or after a session" right through to middle-aged men who think it's totally acceptable to stroll around a gyms wearing cycling shorts (It's not! the lunge is not a pretty sight!) But, standing above all of these is the king of misconceptions that really does need to be laid to rest once and for all. This monster of a misconception is that you should be aiming for "Weight Loss".
The following list will go on to explain why everybody aiming to improve their body composition should be aiming for Fat Loss instead of weight loss. Now don't get me wrong, if you're massively overweight then yes measuring your weight is a useful indicator of progress but for someone who is simply carrying a couple of stone more than they used to aiming for fat reduction is a much more effective goal. So anyway, here it is, 5 rock-solid reasons why fat loss is champion and weight loss didn't even cross the finish line...
1. Losing water causes weight loss
Have you ever seen a boxer's pre-fight regime to get down to the acceptable weight ahead of their fight? They often go as far as resorting to jogging in a sauna whilst wearing a sweat suit. This process makes the body sweat out all of it's water which in turn causes weight loss (not fat loss, for anybody that thinks going out running in july with a parker zipped up to the nose will make you burn more fat) Remember, just a few percent decrease in your hydration levels can have a massively negative effect on your body.
2. Muscle loss
Muscle comes in at approximately 18% heavier than fat. There are quite a few ways in which the body can lose muscle; one being that if you undergo any form of under-eating where your body does not receive enough fuel it turns on its muscles as well as other stores. The major negative here is that the less muscle you have the slower your metabolism (the rate at which your body breaks food down into energy) So in this situation your scales will tell you how great you are but your metabolism will be saying "yeah let's see how light you are in a few months with a slower metabolic rate. In effective yes you will drop weight, but the more of this type of weight you drop the more weight you will probably end up gaining once you start eating normally again.
3. Obsessive behaviour
Hands up if during any one day you've ever weighed yourself before and after each meal? Don't worry you're not alone there, huge numbers of people do this in their quest to see if they've shed a pound since they last weighed themselves during the adverts in between loose women. Wouldn't it be nice if you didn't have to be heading for the scales every 10 minutes to see whats changed and instead be able to go about your daily tasks instead?
4. Not Eating
If you know that you're currently sitting at or perhaps slightly over a weight you've worked really hard to get to; and you know that you have lunch coming up what's a possible outcome here? You may decide not to eat? This further adds to point no.3 Letting your actions be ruled by the scales may often lead you to go against your better judgement and make poor health decisions.
5. You can actually gain weight whilst shedding body fat
As mentioned in point no.2; due to muscle being heavier than fat, as you gain muscle and lose fat your weight may stay the same or even increase. Now down at your local slimming club this would result in you being stoned to death for failing to hit your weekly target! But if somebody were to measure your body fat percentage the stones would be placed back in the handbags and you would be crowned a hero.
To conclude, purely aiming for weight loss can have a massively negative impact upon your behaviour and if you take on board the above points you will see that aiming purely for weight loss will more than likely result in weight gain! Take a look at the bigger picture and use your clothes to help you aim for fat loss. A good suggestion is to purchase an item of clothing in the size below your current clothing and simply try it on once a week or once every fortnight. Believe me your clothes will never lie to you (providing you don't wash this item as it may shrink) As your excess body fat reduces the clothing will become looser. Simple eh, and the only disruption to your life will be the 5 mins of songs of praise you'll miss whilst trying them on every Sunday morning.
Oh and one final point; if you never set foot on a set of scales again you won't know your weight and your friends certainly won't either. I'm pretty sure I've none of you have ever been told "hey, you look good have you lost 2 lbs?" But when your friends see you fitting back into your old clothes again or buying smaller clothes they'll be sure to comment on the changes. How great will that feel, and if they ask about your weight why not just make a number up, they'll never know!
By Jonathan Pittam