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Why you should strive for fat loss not weight loss

Whenever anyone refers to "losing weight", they don't realise that they are actually referring to fat loss not weight loss and there is one vital difference - one will make you look toned and fit, the other could do the exact opposite.

Subcutaneous vs visceral fat

Subcutaneous fat - is the least harmful of the fats. It is the excess fat that is stored just underneath the skin so when you see a "muffin top" or "love handle" that is subcutaneous fat. As it is not necessarily a risk factor for diseases, it's not as vital to get rid of all subcutaneous fat as in some cases it has shown to be protective. However, this type of fat can also be indicative of a higher percentage of visceral fat in the body, so should not be overlooked.

Visceral fat - is the more dangerous type of fat. It surrounds the organs such as heart, lungs and liver and is responsible for many types of diseases such as heart and cardiovascular disease. This is more dangerous as it cannot be seen from the outside and this very often happens when someone is Skinny Fat. From the outside they don't have much subcutaneous fat and appear to be healthy, however due to genetics and their diet, they could have lots of visceral fat and at a higher risk for many diseases.

Lose weight vs tone up

When you measure your weight on the scales it consists of many components these being:

- Body fat (this includes body visceral and subcutaneous)

- Lean muscle

- Bone mass

- Water weight

- Organs

Just saying that you want to "lose weight" is very misleading, you are not referring to the type of weight that you want to lose. What most people are referring too though, is losing body fat to get toned and more defined muscles.

In losing fat you also want to maintain and build your muscle mass. Having lean muscle not only makes you stronger but is going to make you look toned and body more defined- what most people are wanting. For example - you may weigh 60kg with a body fat of 30%. You could then start working out and still weigh 60kg (as you've built up muscle) and then have a body fat of 24%. So although you have the same "weight" you could look and feel remarkably different.

That's why it is vital when/if you weigh yourself that you don't just look at the number on the scale and you are able to get a full picture as to what makes up the percentages of that weight. This will help you know if you are actually losing fat and getting healthier or if you have lost muscle or water levels.

The best exercises to lose fat

To lose weight you need to be burning more calories than you are taking in. Cardio exercise, such as walking, running, swimming and cycling is undoubtedly the best exercise to not only get your heart rate and improve fitness, but also burn the most calories. It is must easier to go for an hour walk or run, than to slog it out in the gym doing weights for an hour. And when you are just starting out exercising, going out walking can seem a lot less daunting than heading to the gym.

However, as shown above, when losing fat, you need to maintain your muscle mass as you don't want to be burning through your muscles when you workout so is critical to maintain resistance training in your exercise schedule. Doing strength training, either body weight exercises or with dumbbells or barbells will help to preserve your muscle mass, bone mineral density and help your joints. This will lead to a larger BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) meaning burning more calories when just at rest.

So it is vital to do cardio exercise to help improve your fitness and heart health and resistance training to help maintain muscle mass and increase your basal metabolic rate.

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