sports wellness

Weight or body fat: What do you really want to lose?

Weight or body fat: What do you really want to lose?
Transformation coach Enzo Bonoan helps us understand what we need to know about losing body fat

Since everyone is confined in their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, moving capacity has been limited. Your favorite snack is now just within reach, eventually making you wonder what the numbers in the scale would be.  

With many worrying about that extra pound, it is common for people to say they want to “lose weight” – but do you really want to lose weight or just the body fat?

Extra Rise MNL transformation coach and Mr Golds Gym Philippines 2019 Enzo Bonoan answers some queries to better understand what one should know about weight and fat loss.   

What is the difference between weight and fat loss?

Weight loss and fat loss are commonly interchanged.

“They are used in the same vein but they are not exactly the same,” Bonoan notes. When people say they want to lose weight, they might actually want to lose fat instead. 

Weight loss, in its very essence, is just losing weight. However, our body consists of many components that add to our weight such as body fat, muscle mass, bones, fluids, among many others. When a body loses weight, it may not necessarily come from body fat alone.

“Simply put, if your goal is weight loss, eat less than what you burn,” says Bonoan.

“Let’s say I eat a lot of junk food within a day but I still eat less calories than what I burn, I will lose weight but not the good kind. What will happen is I will lose water and I will also probably lose a lot of muscle in the process.”

In the context of fat loss, the goal is losing body fat while maintaining muscle mass which does not necessarily mean weight loss. 

“There are many weight loss approaches. You will lose body fat, but you will also lose muscle mass and that will depend on how you approach it,” he added.

How do I shed body fat?

If you want to lessen your body fat, Bonoan requires 3 things – eat less, eat enough protein, and do resistance training. (READ: Understanding food for fat loss)

What weight loss and fat loss have in common is eating less than what you burn. However, if your goal is fat loss and you want to retain your muscles, eat enough protein because it helps you retain, if not build, lean muscle mass.

Moreover, weight loss does not require resistance training. But fat loss with the purpose of retaining muscle requires it. By doing resistance training, you are stimulating muscle growth that will also help you maintain muscle mass.  

“As you are retaining muscle mass but you are also losing weight, that can only mean you are losing water and body fat. That, I can say, is the healthy approach to weight loss, particularly fat loss,” said Bonoan.

If you want a bodybuilder-like figure, there is no other choice but to do heavy lifting. However, one can rely on body weight as it has a decent amount of resistance to build a great athletic and lean physique. 

“If you are doing resistance training at home, what you want to do is you want to be able to satisfy each function of your body,” said Bonoan, who emphasized on muscular strength and endurance.

He recommends to focus on the 4 key muscle groups which are pushing (shoulders, chest, triceps), pulling (back, biceps, rear shoulders), legs (quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves), and core (abs, obliques, lower back, hips) when exercising. 

“Perhaps on one day, you can do all push exercises, on another day all pull exercises. Another day you can do all legs and core. My suggestion is do what you can based on your fitness level, equipment availability, and your schedule,” he said.  

How fast can I lose body fat?

The answer is there is no exact time.

One person can lose one pound in a week but others can lose 3 pounds in the same week. It all depends on varying factors, such as “how your body responds to calorie deficit, resistance training, and recovery.”

As per the transformative coach, the best way to view fat loss is not on a micro-perspective level but in terms of months depending on your starting point.

“Let’s say you want to lose 20 pounds of fat, assuming you’re losing one pound a week, that’s roughly 20 weeks, which is 5 months. You might want to set your expectations in such a way that you will not be discouraged,” he explained.

The most important component to see the most effective result is lifestyle-building.

Reaching your desired goal in the shortest amount of time can lead you back to your previous lifestyle; hence gaining all the fats you worked hard to shed. Therefore, sustainability is the key for long-term fitness goals. 

“What’s not important is the speed, what’s important is sustainability. You may lose weight or fat very fast at first, but if you’re not able to sustain it for a longer period of time, then you will not lose the 20 pounds of fat,” he said.  

How do I measure body fat?

When we want to see our progress, we often look at the number in the scales. However, this might not be the best option to track your fat loss journey. 

The numbers we see in the scale is our total weight which takes into account many factors. If you have more water in your body, you will actually weigh more than you look and feel. 

“You might want to take it as a grain of salt and don’t be affected by the numbers on the scale. What is actually more important is the general progress towards your goal,” highlighted Bonoan.

As he explained, the scale is just one way of measuring but there are many more ways to gauge progress. 

“Let’s say one day you can do 10 pushups, next time you can do 12 then that’s progress right there. Check how you feel. If you’re feeling better, less sluggish, then that’s progress. If your clothes fit better, if you look better in the mirror [that’s progress],” he said. 

Knowing your goal – whether weight loss or fat loss – is paramount to a successful fitness journey. Tailoring your approach toward nutrition and exercise for what you want and what your body composition requires is important, he said. – Jillian Velasco/Rappler.com

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