Fat loss and weight loss are two different things

It seems to be obvious for those that are “overweight”.  Overweight meaning that the scale shows you a big number.  Traditionally we have classified someone as overweight, obese, etc.. by how much the scale reads.   No this is not to be completely discredited of course, but it may not be the whole picture.

Overweight According To The Scale

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the classifications of being overweight or obese are based on Body Mass Index or BMI for short.   BMI is basically a height / weight chart.  To get your BMI score you simply take your total scale weight in kilograms (lbs / 2.2), divided by your height in meters(inches x .0254) squared.

Of course the much easier way for you to figure this out is simply going online to a BMI calculator.  Click here for one

Basically this formula is giving you an idea of what should be your “optimal” weight based off of your height and gender.  BMI has been strongly correlated with certain diseases according to the CDC.

Don’t Freak Out Yet

BMI or your total scale weight is far from the entire picture.  Just because someone weighs a certain amount does not directly point to bad health.  It also does not directly point to being “fat” or “obese”.

Body composition has to be taken into account here.  Body composition of course meaning, Fat Mass vs Lean Tissue.  Just because someone has a certain scale weight, does not tell us what that weight is made up of.  Of course we are not purely made up of body fat.

  • Muscle
  • Bone
  • Body Fat
  • Water

Just to name a few different things that make up our total scale weight.  An easy way to think of this is to look at the scale before you go to bed and then again after you wake up.   In some cases you can be as much as 5-10lbs lighter!   Does this mean you’ve dropped that much fat over night?  Or did you gain that much fat through the day?   Of course not.

The weight itself is not the deciding factor of overall health, but the percentage of body fat you carry does make an impact.  It is important that we take into count how high someones body fat percentage is before classifying them as unhealthy or even “overweight”.

I train with many athletes personally that have a BMI score of over 25, which means they are classified as overweight and according to the CDC, would mean they are unhealthy.  Several of these athletes have visible abs, train hard 5-7 days per week, and eat a healthy diet.   Basically their amount of lean tissue is causing the “overweight” reading, but they are far from unhealthy.

Body Fat Percentage 

I much more accurate way to look at health status would be to base it off of body composition.  Understanding a persons body fat percentage can shed more light for us as Personal Trainers.

There are cases that we see clients at a relatively low weight, heck sometimes even classified as “underweight” according to the BMI.  But a closer look at their body composition shows a high percentage of that weight being body fat.   This could be a bad situation.

Being “skinny fat” would mean that a persons lean body mass (LBM) is low.  No matter the scale weight however, having a higher percentage of body fat can create health risks.  Our goal as Personal Trainers is to treat the body fat percentage problem not so much the scale weight.

The Overall Best Medicine 

No matter if you are “skinny fat” or “heavy fat” the ultimate goal is to get that percentage of body fat down and add lean body mass.

By implementing a workout regimen that includes resistance training, you can effectively increase your ability to reduce body fat percentage and preserve or even build LBM.   Of course a structured diet will play a huge role in the success of this as well.

At the end of the day, exercise and diet seems to be the best medicine.

C.J. Woodruff
Founder / CEO, The Fitness Trainer Academy Inc.CJ Woodruff