Why women need to STOP losing weight!

Weight Loss = Calories out – Calories in. More exercise, less food. Can your perfect body be achieved with this? No.

Mahlaqa Shaukat March 02, 2016
Weight Loss = Calories Out – Calories In.

Or in layman’s terms, to lose weight, burn more calories and eat less.

More exercise, less food.

Is it really that simple?

Can your perfect body be achieved with this simple equation?

Answer: No.

It’s not that simple!

Good news however, it’s not that complicated either.

Weight loss is not the same as fat loss. ‘Weight’ refers to the sum total of everything your body is made up of: bone mass, fat mass, water, organs, muscle and other tissue. Fat, on the other hand, refers to a particular kind of storage tissue in your body which is deposited around your organs and under your skin whenever you eat more than your body needs. While weight is measured on a weighing machine, fat is measured in inches using a manual device or electronic full body scanners. Weight is measured in pounds or kilograms whereas body fat is usually measured as a percentage of your total body weight.

When you say you want to lose ‘weight’, what you really mean is that you want to lose ‘fat’. You don’t want to lose bone density and have weaker bones, or lose muscle mass and have weaker joints or lose collagen fibres under your skin and cause premature aging. You want to lose excess fat so you look and feel great.

The next question you need to ask yourself is whether ‘Fat Loss = Calories Out – Calories In’?

Answer: Absolutely not. Fat loss involves multiple things, like the composition of the food you eat, the type, frequency and intensity of your exercise, your sleep cycle, stress levels, hormone imbalance and so on.

If fat loss is so complicated, how does one go about achieving it? Well, like any life-changing process, you do it one step at a time. Follow these four golden rules to start your fat loss journey:

1. Build muscle

Remember that 80-year-old lady you saw jogging in Hyde Park, yep she’s definitely got a healthy percentage of muscle mass in her body and your phupho (paternal aunt), who keeps complaining of joint pain at 40, does not! She should do more squats.

Muscles are active tissue in your body. They require energy just to exist. In comparison, fat is inactive tissue. Muscles boost your metabolism, causing you to burn fat even while you rest.

Research proves that muscle mass is 13% denser than fat, which means that the same weight of muscle mass is more compact and takes less space than fat. Consequentially, when you build muscle to replace the same ‘weight’ of fat you look leaner.

Muscle fibres also play a vital role in protecting your joints and bones from the impact of intense exercise, especially cardio workouts like running and dancing. This means you can go on exercising for longer without risk of injury.
“I am happy with my body otherwise, I just need to lose the fat on my legs.”

As a fitness instructor I hear this statement in almost every class, with a different body part being signalled each time. Sadly, we don’t have much control over how our body decides to lose fat. Factors like genetics come into play. Think of it as removing a cup of water from a full bathtub, the level of the water will go down but you won’t see a divot in any corner of the tub. Our bodies behave much in the same way. Focus on stimulating overall fat loss by building muscle and you’ll see that fat disappear even from the most stubborn areas.

2. Lift weights: they will NOT make you bulky

Do you look at a photo of Marilyn Monroe and think,
“Wow, she looks bulky”?

If Monroe, who was known to routinely lift weights, managed to retain her curves and feminine beauty, trust that you will too.

“I don’t want manly arms” is how most of my clients react when I suggest weight exercises and strength workouts. Women have 15 to 20 times less testosterone, the hormone that is responsible for bulky muscles in men.


The world-famous actress and fitness author, Cameron Diaz, is known to bench 145lbs at 43 years. ‘Manly’ is the last word that comes to mind when one sees Diaz on the screen. No matter how much women lift, it is close to impossible to bulk up like men.



Mix-up your workouts and hit the weights at least two to three times a week. Lifting weights and working the bigger muscle groups will help you build muscle faster and reach your goal quicker. Even lifting your own body weight counts! Step away from the boring cardio workout on the treadmill and incorporate squats, jumping jacks, plyometric lunges and other multi-joint, functional movements into your routine. Keep mixing up your workouts so you can shock your body into losing that stubborn fat.

3. Quit the ‘low-fat’ diet and balance your diet already

Research has proven that you need to eat fat to lose fat. Not all fats are bad for you. In fact it is proven that eating beneficial fats with training produces muscle gain because it supports hormone balance and recovery from intense exercise. So keep eating beneficial fats that are found in foods like olive oil, nuts, avocado, chia seeds and coconut oil, and you’ll be doing your body a favour.

Remember that girl who lost a lot of weight and claims ‘I eat a bit of everything’?

DON’T believe her!

What she doesn’t eat is a fast food burger every now and then or a double-cheese pizza followed by ‘a few bites’ of Nutella naan. Most processed and fast foods don’t even qualify as ‘real food’ anymore so they definitely don’t count as part of a ‘balanced diet’. Products that are natural and free-from genetic modification have to be labelled ‘organic’ these days. That is how rare natural and real food has become.

Always go for natural foods such as chicken, tofu, beef, fish, fruits, and vegetables, and know the source of your food. Try and buy local produce. If you are buying anything with a label, check for fat and sugar quantity.

Most low-fat food processing companies compensate by adding more sugar disguised on the label as ‘high-fructose corn syrup’ or another ingredient ending with ‘ose’. Not only does excess sugar in your body get stored as fat but it can also increase risk of diabetes, heart disease and lung disease.

Rule of thumb: If you can’t tell what’s in your food by looking at it, avoid eating it.

4. Sleep your way through weight loss

Lack of sleep and stress release the stress hormone ‘cortisol’. Cortisol actually causes you to gain weight in the form of fat, especially around your abdomen. Therefore, no matter how healthily you eat, if you’re stressed out you still might find yourself gaining weight.

Understand that it is extremely important for you to relax, sleep well and take a break every now and then. Sleep for six to eight hours every night and take some time off from work on the weekend. Indulge in activities that you enjoy and give your body time to recuperate.

Photo: Isagenixhealth.net

So there you have it. Next time you think about losing those 10 pounds, stop right there! Change your goal from weight loss to fat loss. Aim to lose two per cent of body fat instead and measure your progress in inches.

Start today.

Build muscle, lift weights, balance your diet and sleep well. Your body will thank you for it!
Mahlaqa Shaukat The author is the CEO and Co-founder of AimFit Fitness Studios. Previously she worked as a Technology Consultant at Deloitte LLP in London after graduating from Oxford University with a degree in Engineering, Economics and Management.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Jake Anderson | 7 years ago | Reply Loving #2!! Ladies, no need to be afraid of jumping into the iron pit and lifting those weights. Far from the myth of looking too muscular - it won't happen! Embrace the weights and build a better you. :) Feel free to check out my site for more tips, although Mahlaqa did an AMAZING job on hitting the basics! http://www.buildmusclefasterhq.com
Samina Lodhi | 8 years ago | Reply we need more inspiring women like Mahlaqa Shaukat to lead this country...im fat and i got bullied in school. losing fat (not weight!) allowed me to regain confidence and become happy again. Thank you tribune for sharing these articles...
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