Losing Body Fat vs. Losing Weight – Which One is the Most Important and Why…

Why is it that so many women and men for that matter, are obsessed with their actual body weight and more significantly with the number that shows when they step onto their bathroom scales, every single morning?

The weight loss industry is huge selling everything from weight loss lotions, potions, pills, and diet books with companies promising that their product will give you that body you’ve always dreamed of! But is losing body weight important or should you just be concentrating on trying to lose body fat instead?

woman on the scales trying to lose body weight

Today so much of the media hype is still constantly trying to convince women that they should be a certain size or weight. You just have to look at most of the models in fashion magazines or even the shop mannequins to see this crazy phenomenon.The weight loss business plays a big role in this, which is why the diet pill industry is such a massive money making machine.

While you probably can lose some weight by using some of these pills and potions, there have been several studies that have shown that these synthetically made diet remedies do not work in the long term and can in fact have a negative effect on our overall health.

Also is the number on the scales really important and a significant indicator of our health let’s take a look at losing body fat vs. losing weight and see which one is more important and why.

Body Weight

Your body weight is an accumulation of the weight of your bones, vital organs, muscle and body fat, as well as any water your body is holding. By just concentrating on reducing your body weight you may lose some fat, but it will also affect every other apect in your body.


Your bones normally account for about 15% of body weight and not only allow you to move but also protect your vital organs. Therefore it makes sense to want strong bones and these will be both heavy and dense. This is an especially important consideration for women as they get older to reduce the risk of getting osteoporosis.


bottle of water


If you lose a lot of weight quickly it’s very likely to be mostly water weight which will generally come back. Water makes up 50-60% of the average adults body weight and we need this important nutrient vital for so many functions, in fact dehydration can have an adverse effect on your overall health.

Normal water gains and losses can be responsible for daily fluctuations in your body weight by as much as 2-4 pounds.However if you think that you are carrying too make take a look at reducing your salt intake and other natural ways, but don’t stop drinking that lovely H20 as your body and mind needs it.


healthy muscular female


If you’ve already read my post ‘Weightlifting for women – the things you should know’ you already know why us girls should be constantly working to increase our muscle mass. The more muscles you have the higher your metabolic rate, therefore the more fat you can burn.

But remember muscles weigh the same as fat, so if you train your muscles the scale weight won’t be going down and could even go up, BUT your size and shape can change drastically. This is why you should be looking at how your clothes fit you and using a tape measure rather than weighing yourself.

seeing weight loss from clothes


Body Fat

Your body needs some fat to provide your body with energy as well as playing an important role in many of our bodies functions. However too much fat can lead to obesity and other health issues along with too many of those unsightly wobbly bits.

Don’t be a ‘Cardio Bunny!’ who spends hours doing nothing but aerobic exercise and follows crazy crash diets with bad nutritional choices. Yes, you will lose weight but you will will not be building the essential strength to help you carry out every day tasks and will likely to become ‘skinny fat’

Fat Percentage

There is not a specific figure for your right fat percentage but rather a range you should preferably be in.

The American Council on Exercise provides the following ranges for body-fat percentage:

Women Men
Essential fat 10-12% 2-4%
Athletes 14-20% 6-13%
Fitness 21-24% 14-17%
Acceptable 25-31% 18-25%
Obese 32% plus 26% plus

Measuring Body Fat

The most common ways and easiest way for the average person to measure their fat percentage are with body fat calipers or with special body fat scales.

Body fat calipers are used to measure your skin folds in specific spots which are then charted to give an estimated body fat percentage. You can buy these online with an instruction manual, however as the accuracy can vary greatly depending on the ability of the person using them I’d recommend that you actually go to a trained specialist to have it done. You can often find someone trained to do this at your local gym.

Body fat scales or body composition scales have a technology called bio electrical impedance analysis and if you enter certain personal data they can work out your body fat among other things.

It is worth remembering that both these methods aren’t always entirely accurate, however if you are on a journey to becoming a stronger healthier female these can give you the much needed motivation to keep on going until you reach your ultimate goal.

body fat calipers

Other Considerations

If you are already regularly weight training and trying to lose body fat with not much success, then take a look at how many calories you are actually consuming. Is it too many or more likely for many women, not enough and are they the right kind?

A great way to measure the amount of calories you are eating is by using one of the many health and fitness apps out there. These are an easy way to see how many calories are in each meal you eat, but more importantly they will give you a breakdown of the macro-nutrients – protein, carbohydrates and fats that you have consumed.

Also, look at what you are drinking, how many of your normal daily beverages have calories you don’t really need. If you haven’t already cut out the soda and stay off the booze unless it’s a special occasion, it’s really quite frightening just how many calories are in both plus too much alcohol can also lead to eating all the wrong types of food.

So if you are still guilty of constantly looking at the number on those old bathroom scales – stop now! Get training to build more muscle and therefore reduce your body fat and remember ‘Strong is the New Sexy!

If you enjoyed this post and have any questions or comments please drop me a line below as I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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6 Responses

  1. Jeannie Brickley says:

    Hi Emma.

    I definitely don’t do enough weight training. I used to; but as I get older; it tends to make me get sore and since I have started having trouble with my shoulders; I am afraid I will overdo and tear a rotator cuff. I did that once, not weight lifting; but lifting my dad. I was able to get back most of my movement without an operation by physical therapy and painful exercising. It wasn’t a pleasant thing and I don’t want a repeat. Lol.

    But I do believe that strength is more important than weight loss. Especially as we get older and fat has a tendency to be in more supply on our bodies than we would like. Belly fat is a problem for me; as for many other women. I definitely need some exercises that target that.

    Thanks for a great post.


    • Emma says:

      Hi Jeannie,

      I’m pleased you enjoyed the post and Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.

      Yes, unfortunately as we get older our recovery time times a lot longer, this is one reason why stretching after exercise is so important as well. Age is just a number and we can exercise and strength train as we get older we just have to take it a lot slower to begin with. You said you have had a shoulder injury in the past, so it would be a good idea to try and strengthen that area to avoid further injuries.

      Why not try some body weight exercises to start as these can help you improve both your strength and burn that dreaded belly fat. Also as they are using your body’s natural range of movement there is also less risk of injury to your muscles and joints..

  2. Jackie says:

    I really resonated with your post. My body weight has not changed since high-school, but the shape of my body definitely has. I just started to incorporate weight training into my daily exercise routine. I’m going to read your post “Weight Lifting For Women” next! I don’t want to be a body-builder, rather I’d just like to keep the muscle tone of my youth! Thanks for the great post!

    • Emma says:

      Hi Jackie,

      I’m so glad you enjoyed reading my post and I’m pleased to hear that you have just started to include weight training into your exercise routine. It is a great way to get all that lovely muscle tone back and create a stronger more compact body. Also if you are ever short on time why not also have a look at including compound exercises into your routine as they are a great overall body toner. I wish you luck on your journey!

  3. Alanna says:

    I think you are right. A lot of people are hung up on what they weigh vs. how healthy they actually are. Weight training and toning is especially important as women age. I was doing really well for a while. Then I stopped. I can’t really do cardio anymore now that I’m older. I can walk but I never feel like I’m getting an actual workout from walking. I bought some kettle bells–5lb and 10lb. I love them! I just don’t use them often enough! But building muscle mass is what I’m striving for now because as you build muscle you lose fat. Thank you for the great tips. Alanna

    • Emma says:

      Hi Alanna,

      I’m really pleased you enjoyed the post, walking does have it’s benefits, but you are right strength training is especially important for us as we get older.

      Well done on investing in some kettle bells, now you just have to get into the habit of using them on a regular basis and building that lovely muscle. 🙂

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