Scale deception and How to determine REAL progress
Over the last few days I’ve heard from several clients who are concerned that they’re progress has stalled or they aren’t seeing changes on the scale. I’ve assured them this is totally normal and that weight loss isn’t always linear. I understand their frustration and wanted to touch on how deceptive the scale can be. Here are a few ways the scale lies to us and how you can measure your progress instead:
Weight and Fat are not the same.The only thing the scale can do is measure your total body weight. That includes everything: fat, muscle, bone, organs, blood, water, gut contents and muscle glycogen. The scale lies doesn't tell you how much of that weight is fat and how much is muscle.
Most scale-focused dieters assume that weight loss is good and weight gain is bad. But what if the weight gain is 100% pure muscle?
What if half the weight you lost was muscle (that can happen if you don't use strategies to build and feed muscle while you're losing weight).
Muscle is the weight you want to keep. Fat is the weight you want to shed.
Your body weight can fluctuate 2-3 pounds a day or more from shifts in water alone. That shift could be even greater over the course of the first week on a diet, especially a reduced-carb diet. The heavier you are to start, the bigger the first week's weight loss (including water) is likely to be.
Losing water weight is easy. When I prepped for competitions before I knew better, I used to begin lowering my water intake about 4-5 days before a show. I’d lower intake a little more each day until it was time to step on the stage. I would easily drop 3-5lbs of water alone that week.
If you're not a weight class athlete, what good is it to lose water weight only to gain it back as quickly as you lost it? That's how diets fool you.
Carbs (glycogen) Carbohydrates are stored in the muscle as glycogen and water is stored along with them. That's why your weight can tick up a few pounds when you eat more carbs. Add sodium and you may gain even more.
For those wanting fat loss, the sudden increase on the scale without knowing about body composition could be cause for freaking out.
For those wanting muscle gain, the increase on the scale without knowing about body composition could be cause for celebration.
But both the panic and the celebration were premature. The scale lied again -- in both directions. The burner didn't gain fat weight and the builder didn't gain muscle weight -- it was just glycogen and the water that came along with it.
It's your gut. Everything in your gastrointestinal tract has weight, so if you've eaten some "heavy" meals recently, you'll weigh more than if you haven't been eating much. If you don't eat anything for a day, you could lose a lot of weight, literally overnight. But rest assured, the weight you lose is not just body fat. You can't lose that much fat in only one day. This also explains weight loss seen with colon cleansing. Why people feel the urge to cleanse their colons (unless their gastroenterologist told them to), I'll never understand. Yet this is one of the oldest weight loss scams in the book. The weight lost is not fat.
Here are 4 ways instead to measure your progress on this program:
Take weekly/bi-weekly progress photos
Take your measurements every week/2 weeks in inches, use the guide to jot them down.
Assess how your clothes fit each week or every other week.
Assess your fitness progress. This program is progressive. Measure your success on the ease of your workouts.