A tape measure wrapped around a hand

As we embark on our weight-loss/gain journey, there are plenty of things that affect our body goals ranging from factors like body fat percentage, muscle gains and nutrition. Let’s understand this a little better, shall we?

Body fat percentage

Yes, talking about ‘fat’ can be uncomfortable and a little strange, but it’s worth understanding it better because let’s face it, we all have fat and it plays a role in our journey no matter what size or shape you are.

Often, ‘weight’ and ‘fat’ is misconstrued.

And whatever your goal – whether to shred and tone or to gain and build muscle for a leaner and stronger physique, keeping an eye on body fat percentage is key.

Weight loss vs. fat loss

There’s a big difference between ‘weight loss’ and ‘fat loss’.

Put simply, when we look to ‘lose weight’ our focus is narrowed into how much we weigh on the weighing scale. Using this as a measure to lose fat isn’t very accurate, or helpful, at all. Because our weight is constantly in fluctuations.

There are many different factors that can affect how much we weigh at any given moment, such as drinking water or eating a meal.

And these fluctuations can occur daily, hourly or by the minute. Which means we’re missing the full picture of what’s happening with our bodies.

Whereas, measuring the percentage of body fat we have is much more useful because our body fat percentage does not fluctuate to the same extent as our weight. We would be able to monitor our progress more meaningfully if we focus on body fat percentage, rather than just weight.

If you’re looking to reduce body fat, some things you can consider doing, instead of focusing on a number on the scale, is: measuring your body, take progress pictures and pay attention to your energy levels and how you feel. 

Stubborn fat 

Unfortunately, selecting specific parts of your body to lose weight on is biologically (naturally) impossible. What we can do to target specific areas is muscle-toning exercises.

And have you ever wondered why it’s harder to lose fat in some areas more than others? Is stubborn fat a real thing?

Some areas of your body have a higher amount of fat cells that are less responsive to lipolysis, which is the process of fat-breakdown. Cheeky fat cells.

Alpha and beta fat cells 

There are two types of fat cells – alpha and beta.

Different areas of our body have different amounts of these two fat cells. Alpha fat cells respond to lipolysis better than beta fat cells, which is why it’s more easy/difficult to lose fat in certain areas of your body.

And surprise, surprise, you have more beta cells in your hips, thighs, and belly, relative to the rest of your body. Now it all makes sense, right?

This is where patience is, truly, a virtue. Results do come with time, exercise and a healthy diet.

And a little discipline is required in order to stick to the right nutrition plan for your body depending on your body goals. There’s no one size fits all so it’s best to consult a nutritionist to come up with a plan for your body.

Understanding your body 

When it comes to your body there’s no one size fits all because every single person’s body is different from another. And there are also lifestyle factors that play a role in how we can maintain our health and move closer to our goals.

The takeaway

Understanding body fat and body fat percentage are useful to help us get closer to our goals. There’s a difference in weight loss and fat loss. Looking at body fat percentage is a more accurate and measure of your progression.

Stubborn fat is real, and there’s a whole science explaining why it is. In short, it’s explained by alpha and beta fat cells. The aim of the game is patience, exercise and nutrition.


**At Free Soul, your well-being is our priority, and although we pride ourselves on our expertise in women's health and wellbeing, it is important to acknowledge the individuality of each person. Features published by Free Soul are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease, or replace the advice of your GP. We always recommend consulting with a healthcare provider if you encounter any health concerns, and we’ll always be here to support you so you’re never alone on your journey.