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Can You Burn Fat Without Losing Weight?

By September 22, 2015Adult Fitness

It’s true that your body weight is not the be-all and end-all of how much progress you make with fat loss. There are other helpful indicators like: how you feel, how clothes fit, progress pictures, energy levels, blood markers, etc. It’s particularly important to know this if you are strength training when trying to lose fat, because the training can add lean muscle mass to your body, and muscle has weight to it. If you put put on 5lbs of muscle mass and lose 5lbs of body fat, your body weight won’t change, but you’ll look a hell of a lot better, and you’ll be healthier.

However, we do need to face the realty: for a SHORT TERM period of time and the beginning of a fat loss phase, your body weight is a very good indicator of body composition and body fat changes. Aside from waist size, it is probably the BEST and most accurate, tangible measurement we have. Here’s the reason: You will add lean muscle when you train, but you will not add muscle NEARLY as quickly as you can lose body fat.  Under the best conditions, you can probably lose 1-2lbs of fat per week. Likewise, in the best case scenario, you can only put on 1-2lbs of muscle per monthSo for a short term period of time (a minimum of 4-12 weeks), you should absolutely lose pounds off the scale if you’re truly losing fat.

This is not so black-and-white, because you can put on body weight from other sources aside from fat and muscle, such as water and glycogen in your muscles. But if you are consuming fewer calories to try and lose fat, you probably won’t add much total weight from these sources.

Your physical appearance and energy levels are important, but as with all things that don’t give you a tangible measurement, you can misinterpret them. Your mood and happiness can affect how you perceive your own appearance and energy levels, for better or worse. You can even trick yourself into thinking your clothes fit differently.

When you get to the point of consistently training and focusing on nutrition for months and months, and years and years, then your body weight is less reliable in telling you how much fat you’ve really lost. The longer you’ve trained, the greater the chance that your lean mass gains can come close to rivaling your fat loss. There’s a good chance you could transform your body for the better without losing as many pounds as you thought necessary. This is also true for someone who wants to enhance his/her physique but is already lean. That person’s appearance will benefit just as much from increasing lean mass as it will from losing some fat.

Once again, we have to look for balance. Weigh yourself multiple times a week to get a number you can look to measure your fat loss, but avoid obsessing over the scale and prevent it from dictating every food choice you make. It’s easier said then done…but it can be done.

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