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The Key Differences Between Weight-loss and Fat-loss

Most people will use the phrase “I need to lose weight” when they’re not happy about their size or appearance. However, what they really want is to lose fat; not muscle, water, or healthy tissue.


Diet trends and media influences have caused people to look at their weight as problematic, but weight is not a bad word and the scale is not your enemy. If you want to get down to a size that is both healthy and satisfying to you, turn away from the fad diets.

Crash diets are often dangerous and deliver unsustainable results. This is because they help people lose mostly water weight or lean tissue and don’t help as much with fat loss. In addition, people who lose weight rapidly can gain more weight than they lost once the diet is over, or end up in the hospital. It’s best to take a more sustainable approach and aim to lose one to two pounds of fat per week.

The key to slimming down and getting to a smaller size lies in building muscle and limiting body fat to a healthy percentage (roughly 10-33 percent). This can be done in several key ways:

  • Lifting weights
  • High intensity interval training
  • Body weight exercises
  • Burning more calories
  • Cutting out junk food
  • Resting and changing up your workouts


Lifting Weights

Young woman weight training. Camera angle view.

The first thing that people turn to when faced with the task of building muscle is weights. Start with some free weights or a kettlebell and do a few reps working your main muscle groups. This includes working out your chest, shoulders, back, abs, arms, hamstrings, and calves. Doing weight repetitions that target muscles in these areas will give you the full-body tone that you’re looking for. You can also incorporate lighter weights in your aerobic exercises for added strength training.

Interval Training

Interval training, or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), is a great way to build lean muscle and burn fat. It also increases your metabolism and keeps it going at a higher rate for up to 48 hours after your workout. Interval training requires you to give maximum effort for short periods and allows you to rest in between exercises. This makes your body work harder and can burn twice as many calories as traditional aerobic exercises during and after each session. Although HIIT is often superior to other exercises, you can do them in conjunction with your regular workout to boost fat burn and torch extra calories.

Body Weight Exercises  

These are great for anyone looking to build some muscle without weights. If you don’t have a set of weights or access to a gym, you can do some body weight exercises such as pushups, squats, lunges, leg lifts, and sit ups for similar results. Try combining these types of exercises and make your own body weight circuits to complete throughout the week. As with all of your strength training and aerobic exercises, be sure to mix it up and get adequate rest between intense workouts. Rest is essential for muscle to properly build, so don’t feel like you have to do it every single day to get results. 

Burn more calories


Lifting weights, doing HIIT, and getting active every day will ensure that you burn more calories, but you have to alter your diet if you want to burn more than you consume. The key to losing fat is to cut out the unhealthy, fatty foods and get involved in more fitness-oriented activities. Aim to eat unprocessed, whole foods for the majority of your meals, and try not to skip breakfast or go too long without eating. Eat smaller, well-portioned meals instead, and keep healthy snacks on hand. In addition, think about purchasing a basic pedometer to track your steps and encourage more walking. These basic changes will make a big difference in the number of calories you burn in a day and will ultimately help you decrease your percentage of body fat.

Top Tips

It may be easier said than done, especially when you have a full schedule and a lot of bad eating habits. The only thing you can do is start and be as persistent as possible. Remind yourself of the benefits of fat loss and know that there is no such thing as wasted effort.

These are the best tips for building muscle and burning fat:

  • When you’re lifting weights, lift every other day
  • Don’t cut too many calories too quickly
  • Try adding some safe fat burning supplements to your regimen
  • Eat a high protein diet to support muscle growth
  • Eat your carbs after your intense workouts
  • Don’t starve yourself because it can have adverse effects on your metabolism
  • Eat several healthy meals and snacks throughout the day
  • Consider buying a body fat caliper to track your progress

If you have any further questions about how to lose fat and gain muscle, speak with a trusted health professional.

About the author

Susan Beth is a freelance writer with When she’s not writing, she enjoys outdoorsy activities, helping others, indulging in dark chocolate and stealing a few extras moments of sleep.

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