Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss vs. Depletion
“Lose weight fast!” “6-pack abs in just 8 minutes a day!” “Pre-contest dieting.” These are 3 popular reflections of being lean people often think of. In regards to how people consider weightlifting, bodybuilding, & strength training to be one and the same, I think a similar association is often made with the terns “weight loss” & “fat loss” (with depletion being an extension of fat loss). Stemming from this, it’s common to see people who are in pursuit of something who are using nutrition & exercise strategies that are not relevant to their goals & lifestyle.
Weight loss is probably one of the most uttered phrases in the 21st century. If something has been shown to have even the most minor positive effect on weight loss, we hear about it. The overwhelming majority of the western population is overweight, and people try desperately to keep off unwanted pounds.
When people think of weight loss, they typically want to lose bodyfat. However, there are many other factors that play into the make up of the weight being lost: excess water, inflammation, intestinal waste, and even lean tissues (muscles & organs) are affected during a weight loss period.
This area really applies to people who are far above a healthy body weight/composition, and don’t have any aesthetic goals beyond just fitting into normal clothes. For how complicated people make it, losing weight is really pretty simple. Make fruits & vegetables the majority of your daily calories & food volume, drink adequate water (and stop drinking everything else so frequently), get a full night’s sleep every night, and do some daily physical activity (go for a walk, play with your kids, etc.)
In addition, you can reduce unnecessary lifestyle stress to compound the healthy changes happening to your body. No pills, potions, powders, plastic surgeons, fad diets, or death workouts will make up for the effects of making poor dietary & lifestyle choices on a regular basis. When you give your body a good hand to play, it will make the most of it’s resources.
As mentioned, this is what most people think of when they say “weight loss”, but fat loss is really an advanced goal of body composition. Lots of people will lose substantial amounts of weight from excess water & inflammation once they clean up their lifestyle in addition to bodyfat. However, to target bodyfat specifically is really something that’s only of use to people who are paid to look a certain way (i.e. models & bodybuilders) and athletes who are carrying around unnecessary weight (because fat weight is dead weight).
The goal here is less about health & more focused on image or performance optimization. Aesthetic trainees will start to employ different dietary schemes to drop additional bodyfat, all of which revolve around calorie or macronutrient manipulation. People who are overweight or obese frequently overstep their bounds and start using these restriction schemes too early in their journey. As such, the struggles that make a disciplined bodybuilder frustrated are experienced by those who have not built up their willpower yet. The result is yo-yo dieting; wanting Jenny Craig one week & McDonald’s the next.
Athletes with this concern are better off just keeping their lifestyles clean & letting their activity take care of their needs. They need adequate nutrient intake to ensure their performance or recovery doesn’t degrade.
Depletion is totally aesthetic minded. This is the state that nearly all of the models & celebrities you see on magazine covers with their 6-packs proudly displayed are in. It is as far from being healthy as being morbidly obese is; their bodies are dehydrated & starved down to that state, depleted in the very real sense of the word.
What most people don’t realize is that this is only maintained for a matter of hours (either for a competition or a photoshoot). Ask any model or bodybuilder what their favorite meal is, and they’ll tell you, “the one after the photoshoot.” These guys and gals don’t walk around like this all year-round, and lots of them also use anabolic steroids & other performance enhancing drugs to help retain their muscle mass while living on such a restrictive diet.
The fallout is that Johnny No-Name in his freshmen year of college who just wants a few bumps on his stomach to show off at the beach, ends up trying all of these things that are far beyond his goals (as a result, he fails consistently, and either keeps banging his head against the wall, or reverts back to doughnuts & ice cream). Worse off, athletes whose efforts are misguided end up getting injured or sick, and do some serious damage to their prospective careers.
A healthy lifestyle is never contra-indicated. You don’t need to resort to restriction if you simply want to be healthy, look good, feel good, & perform well (in fact, I would stay away from restriction outside of restricting junk food intake). Those who do are basing their livelihoods on their practice, and sometimes, they end up paying the price for them.
Until next time…
Keep it strong, keep it vegan.