Fat Loss vs. Weight Loss – What’s the Difference?

Christian Coulson
Updated: June 14, 2020
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The only difference in my life when I’m on a diet is that instead of saying, “I ate nachos,” I say, “I accidentally ate nachos.”

Like many people, the first thing I did when trying to lose fat was to do countless hours of cardio and eat little food.

This approach left me looking very skinny and weak, I wasn’t getting enough nutrients or doing resistance training to stay “toned,” I didn’t know any better.

I ended up losing lots of muscle, not just fat.

In this article, I’ll go over the difference between fat loss and weight loss so you can decide which one you should focus on based on your goals.

Weight Loss

Weight loss is an arbitrary term and can mean anything that causes you to weigh less, such as:


Many things, such as stress, sodium, and hormones can affect how much water you retain.

That’s one of the reasons you can wake up almost 3-5 pounds heavier the morning after eating out.

You probably didn’t gain 10 pounds of fat (some of it is fat) but had more sodium than normal, which made you retain lots of water.

That’s the reason why your weight goes back to normal after 2-3 days.

If you tend to eat out a lot, here are a few tips to keep your calories low when doing so.

A lot of people can also have high levels of stress, which can cause water retention as well.


Glycogen is the stored form of carbohydrates, your body keeps those in reserve to use for energy.

When you don’t eat, your body starts using that glycogen, which makes you weigh less.

Glycogen also retains water, that’s why you see people on Keto be excited about losing 10 to 20 pounds in just one week.

They completely cut carbohydrates so they don’t store any glycogen and therefore lose a lot of water weight.

After that drastic loss of weight during the first week, weight loss starts going at a normal rate of a few pounds per week.

Fat & Muscle

During weight loss, you’ll also lose both fat and muscle.

If you don’t eat the proper macronutrient (protein, carbs, and fats) ratio for you, lose weight too fast, or eat too little calories, you can end up losing more muscle.

Calculating the right macronutrient ratio for you is fairly easy, you can check out my article on how to calculate your macros and TDEE.

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Fat Loss

Fat loss consists of losing weight while maintaining as much muscle mass as possible, which will allow you to look more toned and get that fit look.

To primarily lose fat, you need to prioritize strength/resistance training, you don’t put muscle, you build muscle, and resistance training with proper nutrition is how you do so.

Here are a few tips on how to prevent losing muscle during weight loss.

Learning how much of each nutrient (protein, carbs, and fats) you, specifically, should be eating is also important.

This will ensure that all the nutrients are going to the right places (used for energy, recovery, build lean muscle), instead of getting stored as fat. 

Many women get scared when they read the word muscle, they believe they’ll end up looking bulky and manly, but that’s not the case.

I’ve written a different article about why lifting weights won’t make women bulky if you’d like to learn more.

Should I Lose Fat or Lose Weight?

The answer is: it depends.

Losing weight and losing fat are both a great accomplishment and it depends on your specific goal.

If looking smaller is all you want, and don’t mind not being toned, then focusing on weight loss is fine.

Here are a few science-based tips on how to lose weight faster.

However, if you’d like a more toned look and be at your best, then you should take the time to learn the basics of nutrition and resistance training.

It is definitely knowledge worth having.

I hope you enjoyed this article about the difference between fat loss and weight loss!

If you’re ready to start your weight loss journey, Avocadu’s 21-Day Fat Loss Challenge is the place to start!

This plan helps men and women lose 10-21 pounds in just 21 days and can be repeated as many times as you want.

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