Weight Management
August 27, 2021
• Updated on
27 Aug

Weight Loss vs Fat Loss: The Difference, Explained

The internet is full of plans that aim to help you lose weight quickly. Some require a controlled diet, others require eating at fixed hours. But does losing weight mean that you automatically lose fat or inches around your waist? There is a clear difference scientific between weight loss vs fat loss, which is what we are outlining below. 

What Is Weight Loss?

Weight loss is a decrease in your overall body weight. This weight includes muscle, fat, and water in your body.

What Is Fat Loss?

Here’s the main difference between weight loss and fat loss: fat loss refers to weight loss from fat, and it’s a more specific and healthful goal than weight loss. Most of the time, when we talk about wanting to lose weight, we’re really talking about wanting to lose fat. This is not only because excess fat is potentially dangerous but also because you don’t want to get rid of lean tissue.

Obese person
Obese person


Weight Loss Vs Fat Loss

The weight loss vs fat loss difference requires deeper discussion. Fat loss is more specific than weight loss. We can lose body fat by reducing calories, just like with weight loss. The quality of food we consume for fat loss, vs weight loss, is more important. We need to be more specific about our macronutrient intake, i.e. protein, carbohydrate and fat intake.

Balanced meal
Balanced meal

The goal to successful weight loss vs fat loss is to preserve as much muscle as possible, or possibly even gain some, while at the same time lose as much body fat as possible. Your body fat percentage is a key indicator of your success, not the scale. In fact, stay off the scale. 

The Focus: Fat Loss, Not Weight Loss

In the battle of weight loss vs fat loss, you should focus on fat loss. Most weight loss programs will help you lose weight - but much of it will be in the form of water and muscle. And as we mentioned above, real success in keeping the kilos off for good lies in preserving muscle while doing away with fat. That’s why it is important to understand the difference between weight loss vs fat loss and eat a diet and follow a regimen that helps keep fat off.


Why You Need To Maintain Healthy Muscle Mass

Losing muscle has detrimental effects, because losing weight in the form of muscle can lower the number of calories you burn at rest, making it easier to regain any weight you may have lost as fat. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn while resting.

Maintaining a healthy percentage of muscle has numerous benefits, such as:

  • Maintaining healthy fat levels in the blood (triglycerides and cholesterol)
  • Regulating healthy blood sugar levels
  • Controlling inflammation

Several studies have linked a higher fat-to-muscle ratio to chronic diseases like metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and diabetes). It also lowers your risk of age-related muscle loss, which can lead to certain disabilities.



How To Lose Fat While Retaining Muscle

In the battle of weight loss vs fat loss, the key is losing the flab while retaining (and even building) muscle. There are a few simple ways to ensure you’ll lose weight in the form of fat and either maintain or gain muscle mass:


Protein is an important nutrient for everyone (not just athletes and bodybuilders), and a key component of fat loss. That doesn’t mean you need to start drinking protein shakes every day. Most people can get the protein they need from a healthy and balanced diet. Protein is essential to building bones and plays a part in metabolic reactions, immune response, assists in cellular repair, forms blood cells, and more.

Protein is also important for maintaining the muscle you have and supporting new muscle growth, especially when losing weight. A high-protein diet reduces hunger, helping you eat fewer calories. The recommended dietary allowance for protein is 0.8-1.2 grams per kg of body weight per day.



However, prioritising protein at meals doesn’t mean cutting out the carbs. Breaking up with entire food groups isn’t a must for losing fat, and it’s definitely not a good move for keeping the fat off long-term.

Research suggests that healthy, sustainable weight loss really happens from eating a wide variety of wholesome foods like fruit and veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins and limiting the processed, sugary stuff.

Sweet potato
Sweet potato



Exercise is the most effective way to encourage fat loss without losing muscle. Combining exercise with a higher protein intake can help get better results. One must get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. It is important to keep up the metabolism and prevent muscle loss.


We hope this blog has given you a better insight into fat loss and weight loss. If you are looking for a permanent solution to your weight loss vs fat loss problems, you can always schedule an appointment with us to learn more about our weight management programme.  


How can I lose body fat instead of weight?

Here is how you can lose body fat: 

  • Include protein in your diet
  • Exercise well
  • Practice a mix of strength and Cardio exercises
  • Follow a Calorie deficit diet
  • Do include rest

How do I know if I'm losing fat or water weight?

The easiest way to do this is to compare your present body fat percentage to your body fat percentage a month ago. If your current body fat percentage is more, then you have gained fat weight. If your body fat percentage has stayed the same/decreased but you have gained weight on the scale, it is water weight.

Will belly fat go away with weight loss?

A weight loss plan will help you lose inches overall, but belly fat cannot be fixed with just a diet - there needs to be some form of targeted exercise as well. 

How can we measure weight loss and fat loss?

Weight loss can be measured by scale. It can be any weight; muscle, fat or water weight.

Simple ways to assess fat loss include measuring inches or centimeters lost from your waist and hips and noting any changes in how your clothes fit around your waist.

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Lovneet Batra
Lovneet Batra is a clinical nutritionist with over a decade of experience treating patients and educating people on the benefits of a healthy diet. One of Delhi’s most sought-after nutritionists...
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