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Weight loss Vs Fat Loss – let’s look at that important difference

Updated: Oct 25, 2018

We LOVE a great body transformation… after all measuring transformations is what we do!

But one of the reasons I took over at Physique Science and use DEXA with my clients was to help de-emphasise the focus on “weight loss”, and advocate for clients (and their health and fitness professionals) to look more closely at overall body composition as a more accurate measure of progress.

About body weight

In very broad terms, body weight is made up of fat mass and fat-free mass (which includes muscles, internal organs and bone weight).

DEXA is the most accurate way to separate and weigh these different tissue types and for ideal overall health, we recommend measuring and managing both the fat and fat-free components of your body weight.

So while I am always excited to see DEXA being used in the media as in the TV series “Bringing Sexy Back” to put some focus on fat loss, to my mind, weight loss still ‘stole the show’.

Here’s why…

The results for one participant before and after scans are outlined below…

If you have a look at these results, while the weight loss and fat loss are very positive, it comes at the expense of substantial loss of muscle mass – which accounted for almost half their total weight loss!

Health and fitness professionals advocate resistance exercise to build or maintain lean tissue because it’s the tissue that is metabolically active (that is, it burns calories) and maintains or improves functionality. Unfortunately, a reduction in muscle mass this significant will inevitably slow this participant’s metabolism, making it much harder for them to maintain the new lower weight.

Let’s compare that to a managed weight loss example

We have included below the scan results of a client we monitored over a 6-week cross fit challenge.

This client lost 5.1KG overall which amounted to a 4.8% loss in body fat (or 6.2KG of fat) but she also gained 1kg in lean tissue across her challenge – a solid, healthy and sustainable result.

Progressive scans six weeks apart

So what’s the take home message?

If you track your progress using #DEXA, rather than the scales, you can be confident you are reducing your body fat… but not at the expense of your muscle mass.

AND get a scan with us at Physique Science or somewhere that you will have a post-scan consultation with a health and fitness professional (rather than an imaging professional/radiographer) who has a thorough understanding of body composition assessment, and will go over your scan results in detail.

As we like to say…. if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

Got questions? Drop us an email at

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