The Weight/Body Fat Conundrum

Body weight doesn’t matter, body fat does. Here’s an analogy. Think back to your middle school earth science class. Remember when you had to weigh different rocks, and it was shocking to find a small rock that was much heavier than it looked? What was your teacher’s explanation? If you don’t recall, here it is: the rock was dense. Density impacts weight. The more dense something is, the more it weighs. The same is true with muscle versus fat. Muscle is dense and compact. Fat is less dense, but occupies more space.

As you lose body fat, muscle can grow simultaneously. Weight can ultimately stay the same or barely change while body fat percentage decreases dramatically (ex: last two pictures).

In a society that places emphasis on the numbers on the scale, teaching my clients the basic science of density and matter was a big challenge. It’s simple, really. Your weight consists of your blood, bones, muscle, body fat, whatever you just ate — didn’t eat, waste, and so on. This can, of course, fluctuate — and frequently. Conversely, your body fat percentage is your body fat percentage. This takes time to change, and the handy thing is, it’s a measure of what those scale-obsessed people really want to know.

It comes down to density. Fat is an energy reserve, while muscle is “working” weight. Dense and compact, muscle powers your body through actions. Muscle burns more calories than fat and can keep you lean. The more muscle one has, the more of a fat-burning-machine they are.

It should really be a no-brainer to be more concerned with body fat percentage than how much your blood, bones, body waste, and all that fun stuff weighs at any given time. Still, many people (women especially) obsess over the scale. Please, take the logical route. Get your body fat percentage checked at a local gym for free, or buy a body fat analyzer or calipers, and simply check what you really care about: your body fat percentage. The image below demonstrates why this is so important. Weight is the measure of your total composition.

Body fat percentage is a measure of your body fat ONLY! Subtract that from your weight and you’ll have your body fat to lean body mass ratio. That information can help you determine more accurate caloric needs than calculations based on ever-fluctuating body weight

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