Weight loss vs fat loss

Oct 22, 2019

A common mistake that people make is putting too much emphasis on what their weight is as opposed to what their body composition is. A healthy body composition is one of a low body fat percentage and proportionately higher muscle mass. Achieving an ideal body composition is key when it comes to sporting performance; you cannot only look at what the scale tells you.

Your power to weight ratio, or performance, is determined by your body composition and therefore knowing what your weight is made up of is handy information. For example, a person can weigh 70kg with a body fat percentage of 12% making their power to weight ratio good. Another person also at 70kg but with a body fat percentage of 22% will have a poor power to weight ratio.

Achieving a lower body fat percentage comes from good dietary habits and the right type of exercise.  The bottom line is; you cannot afford to ignore your diet. What you eat day to day will determine what your body fat percentage is. What you eat before, during and after any training sessions will determine your energy levels during training as well as your ability to recover after training.

If you get the timing of your nutrition intake right relative to your schedule, then you will be able to train well and get the most out of your training sessions. Being strategic with your food intake will go a long way to improving your strength, fitness and overall training outcomes.

Body Fat Percentage Ranges

  General Population Athletes
  Males Females Males Females
Lean < 12% < 17% < 7% < 12%
Acceptable 12 – 21% 17 – 28% 7 – 15% 12 – 25%
Overweight 21 – 26% 28 – 33%
Obese > 26% > 33%  >15% > 25%


Kerryn Wuth

Kerryn is a registered dietitian in private practice working in Durban and Ballito.  She has a special interest in sports nutrition and using this to help athletes improve their performance. Read more about Kerryn Wuth


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