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Is Fat Loss Different from Weight Loss?

Have you ever find yourself watching Adele and trying to figure out how she did it? Or have you found yourself googling ‘Adele weight loss’ wondering what her secret is to shedding those pounds? Is there a difference between weight loss and fat loss?

People who are trying to lose weight or shed pounds often search for "weight loss" or "fat loss". However, they are usually used interchangeably. A person is likely to believe that they have lost some fat when they notice the number on the scale has declined or their pants are getting looser. But is that really what happens?

What does weight loss and fat loss mean? Are there any differences between the two? Contrary to popular belief, fat loss and weight loss actually have very different meanings.

In this article, we explore the differences between weight loss and fat loss.

What is Weight Loss?

Weight loss is a bit more complex since it might refer to collective loss or loss of one of the following:

Muscle Content

Fat Content


Water Content


Weigh loss is a reduction in body weight that is visible on the scale. Most people are unaware that if they only focus on weight loss treatment, they might lose muscle and not fat. It not only compromises aesthetics, but also negatively affects overall health.

What is Fat Loss?

Fat loss is straightforward in the sense that there is a loss of fat in the body. This means that the fat cells have been 'drained' of their fat tissue that had been stored in them. Consequently, the body's fat content is reduced.

Your fat cells, however, remain in the body. A fat cell simply shrinks when it is converted into energy. In addition, when the diet or treatment begins to increase fat, the excess fat will be stored in the fat cells that remain in the body. When people stop following the specific diets or exercises that were keeping them in shape, they regain weight when they stop the fad diets or exercises.


What happens when you lose fat vs when you lose weight?

Fitness gurus would have us believe fat loss is easy. Triglycerides are fat molecules stored in adipocytes or fat cells. Fat loss occurs when these triglycerides are released from cells into the bloodstream as free fatty acids (FFA). The exercise, caloric deficit, and other forms of fat loss plans stimulate the body's energy demand, causing free fatty acids to be transported to the area that needs energy1.

You feel slimmer, but was that Weight Loss or Fat Loss?

This is when the body uses up the fatty acids as a source of energy, and the fat is 'burned off'. Fat cells that were initially stored in them shrink as more triglycerides are released into the bloodstream. People who lose fat will see this shrinkage, as they will appear to have more defined and toned muscles under the surface.

Fat loss is included in weight loss, but it may also include water weight and muscle loss.

Muscle Loss

The body's water content and muscle content are especially affected by rapid weight loss. An article presented at the European Congress on Obesity shows that a severe caloric deficit diet of 1250 calories for five weeks can result in significant weight loss.

Reduced calorie intake can cause weight gain as the body needs fewer calories, leading to decreased muscle mass, lower metabolism and lower BMR (basal metabolic rate). This means that the loss of weight is more likely to have been caused by muscle loss than by fat loss2.


Above all, to not Lose Muscle, don’t Crash Diet

The most common cause of muscle loss instead of fat loss are crash diets. Crash diets and quick-fix diets promise to help you lose weight really fast. However, the problem is that a lot of that lost ‘weight’ comes from lean body mass – particularly water and muscle content, and not body fat.

Crash diets have also shown to cause mood swings, fatigue, a lack of physical stamina as well brainpower3. After a crash diet, the result might be that the scale reads lower and your pants fit looser. However, it will all be temporary, because as soon as you hop off the crash diet hamster wheel, the weight will come right back.

Weight Loss (through Crash Diets)

Fat Loss

  • No change in body composition 
  • Results often temporary with almost immediate rebound in the weight
  • Reduction in muscle tissue, water, with only small amount of fat 
  • Crash dieting leaves poor eating habits 
  • Slowed metabolism 
  • Weakened immunity

  • Reshapes the body composition 
  • Reduction in body fat primarily

Why are some spots more stubborn than others?

With any weight-loss treatment, the first signs of weight loss are more often than not a result of loss of water weight and not of fat or muscle mass.

The human body is designed to hold on to fat in order to survive. In the event that food is scarce, the body utilizes the fat reserves stored in the body in order to safeguard bodily functions.

The body has been designed to retain fat, but men and women retain fat differently. Obviously, there is more to this than simply survival. For instance, the body tends to store more fat around the abdomen when a woman is fertile.

Non-Invasive Fat Reduction Solutions, Not Weight Loss Treatment

As science has helped us understand how fat retention persists even in the slimmest of bodies, it has also given us options to target problem areas of the body with excess stubborn fat.

With non-invasive fat reduction treatments, fat cells can be effectively targeted and eliminated from the body.


Using sub-zero temperatures, CoolSculpting targets fat cells through Cryolipolysis, an FDA-approved non-invasive fat reduction treatment. As the fat cells freeze, they undergo what is known as apoptosis (cell death). Fat cells are broken down and then eliminated from the body over a 90-day period.

CoolSculpting has been cleared to work on the following areas:

Submental Fat


Love Handles/ Back Fat

Bra Fat

Arm Fat

Inner/ Outer Thighs

CoolSculpting Treatment Areas


In contrast with CoolSculpting, SculpSure is another FDA-approved fat reduction treatment. It targets fat cells with laser technology that generates heat in the targeted region, hence, melting the fat away.

The body recognizes the cells’ pending death and begins the process of eliminating them via the body’s lymphatic system.

As a result of targeting fat cells specifically, it is evident that fat loss, and not weight loss. Muscles are not affected by during the treatment, and neither is the water weight of the body.

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Losing fat is generally healthier than losing weight overall, since weight includes lean body mass.

Although there are a variety of ways to go about achieving fat loss, making sure to make sustainable changes and making better informed decisions will help you achieve your desired physique.

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