What is the Difference Between Weight Loss and Fat Loss


With summer approaching, so does the good weather and opportunity to get motivated towards some health and nutrition goals. Perhaps one of those goals is managing or reducing your weight.

But what is the difference between weight loss and fat loss?

• Weight loss is a decrease in weight from muscle, water, and fat.

• Fat loss is also weight loss, but specifically from fat.

Note: Fat loss is the preferred outcome in a weight-loss strategy!

Understanding Body Composition

Our body is composed of many tissues, including muscle, fat, water, and bone. The proportion of these tissues relative to one another is referred to as your body composition. When losing weight, it is best to lose weight from fat tissue specifically, while maintaining the integrity of muscle mass.

There are specialized instruments that can determine the proportions of these tissues using specialized medical-grade equipment, such as BIA (bioelectrical impedance analysis), or DEXA (Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry). Fancy names aside, these tools allow us to track your body composition.

Here at Preventous, we use the Tanita ™ BIA. It is a quick, reliable way to track body composition over time, to ensure that weight loss is coming primarily from the fat tissue.

Visceral Fat

A visceral fat rating of 12 or more is linked to metabolic disturbances and increases the risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Do you know where you stand? A quick scan in our Dietitian’s office can give you the answer.

What is Visceral Fat?

Fat can be further divided into two main types: Subcutaneous fat and Visceral fat and subcutaneous fat.

Subcutaneous versus Visceral Fat

This is an important distinction because while many may want to address the more visual fat, it is in fact the visceral fat that is most associated with the risk of medical concerns such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s and high cholesterol. The good news is that strategies in reducing both fat types are similar and discussed further.

Visceral fat is related to waist circumference, but the best way to determine is through a body composition analysis. The Tanita analyzer allows us to measure body composition including visceral fat while providing ideal ranges based on age, gender, and height.

What causes visceral fat accumulation, and how can we reduce it?

There are several factors including diet, exercise, alcohol consumption, sleep, and mood. The best strategy is to adopt lifestyle modifications that are sustainable and unique to you.

Dietary strategies may include:

• Ensuring adequate high-quality protein in the diet, to maintain muscle mass.

• Using the healthy plate approach, making half your plate vegetables.

• Choosing appropriate portion sizes.

• Ensuring adequate water per day (2-3L).

• Limiting or avoiding alcohol consumption.

These strategies are similar for losing subcutaneous fat as well and can be supported through adapting other healthy lifestyle patterns such as adequate physical activity, sleep, and stress reduction.

Choose a balanced lifestyle strategy that works for you and your goals, be it weight loss, improved metabolic health, or general health and wellness! Everyone’s goals are unique, as are their journeys!


Dan Neuman
Registered Dietitian

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