Fat Loss Vs Weight Loss

Posted by Adelaide


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Most people know exactly how much they weigh and how much they want to lose, but very few people know what percentage of their total body weight is made up of fat.  Rather than just tracking body weight, I believe it’s important to understand your body weight composition too.


So what’s the difference between Total Body Weight and Body Fat Percentage?


  • You’re total body weight is the sum weight of your bones, muscles, organs and body fat (that’s both essential fat and excess fat).

  • Your body fat percentage is a measure of how much fat (again essential fat and excess fat) you are carrying around compared to lean body tissue (bones, muscles, organs etc.)


The main problem with relying on the conventional scales is that our body weight can fluctuate throughout the day as we have to take into account our stomach, bowel and bladder content.  Any water loss, water retention, muscles loss, muscles gain, fat loss or fat gain.  Also two people can weigh the same at 70kg but their body shapes can be completely different as one individual can be storing less body fat.

So what should your Body Fat Percentage be?


Between 25-29% is a healthy body fat percentage range for women aged between 30-49 years and 19-24% for men of a same age range.  For woman aged 50 years and over 

29-32% is a healthy bodyfat percentage range with 24-27% being a healthy range for men aged 50 years and over.  For those aged 16-29 years, 22-25% is a healthy range for woman whilst 14-18% is healthy for men, according to the World Health Organization (2003). 


The picture below represents what this looks like in both men and women.  Do you know your body fat percentage?


So why is Body Fat Percentage important?


We need to have a certain level of fat in our body in order to protect our internal organs, help control our body temperature, maintain reproductive function, process nutrients and store energy, but as we know globally obesity is on the increase.  In 2014 worldwide, more than 1.9 billion adults were classed as overweight.  Of these over 600 million were obese. (World Health Organization, 2015)


Therefore, it’s important to maintain a healthy level of body fat composition within the recommended range as this will help to reduce your risk of developing obesity-related diseases such as Atherosclerosis, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure and even some cancers. Conversely, if your body fat percentage drops below the recommended minimal range this too can have a negative impact on the body. 

Excess Body Fat in a Skinny Girl Body


One of my clients who looks lean actually had a body fat percentage that was over 32%.   She was told that ‘she was an overweight girl in a skinny girl’s body’.  Since then she has now dropped 3% body fat in the last few months but has maintained an ideal body weight for her height at 70Kg through an effective nutrition and strength training program that we worked on together which focused on burning fat and building lean muscle. 

5lbs of muscle weighs the same as 5lbs of fat, as a pound is a pound in weight regardless of whether it is muscle or fat.  


Muscle is much denser than fat therefore it takes up less space, so even though someone's weight can stay the same, they'll look slimmer as the amount of body fat they are storing drops and their lean muscle tone increases through training. 

How do you measure Body Fat Composition?


You can estimate body fat composition by using Skin Fold Calipers to measure skinfold thickness at various sites on the body.  These numbers are then converted to get the body fat composition. 


By far the quickest and easiest way to measure body fat percentage and it’s what I use with my clients which is a Bio Electrical Impedance (BIA) machine.  The BIA sends an electrical current through the body.  The principle behind this technique is that fat contains little water; most of the body’s water is stored in lean body tissuse intra and extracellularly.  

Therefore, when an electrical current encounters fat, there is more resistance.  By measuring how easily the current moves through the body, the body fat composition can be estimated. 


It’s best if the BIA is carried out by a trained health or fitness professional like myself, as we can explain the results to you, identify your risk factors and design an exercise and nutrition program personalised for your specific fat loss needs.


The weight loss changes are happening in your body fat make-up, so go get your body fat percentage number and remember think FAT LOSS and not weight loss.

Adelaide Brooks is a Certified Personal Trainer in Beckenham with a Degree in Sports and Exercise Science and a Masters in Psychology.  She has over 15 years experience as a trainer in the medical and fitness industry. 


If you would like to book a body transformation training session with Adelaide please take a look at the services page.  

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