It’s frustrating to see the numbers in scale not changing every week while you are on a weight loss journey. But you find that you are losing inches but not weight, why is that?
Tracking the weight each week and knowing how much you have lost is so motivating.
But here you are losing your size but not losing weight. This makes you feel demotivated in your weightloss journey.
How do you keep track of your weight loss journey?
If you want to track your progress, then you need to follow methods other than scales. So that you don’t need to complain about the scale not moving.
Why is the scale not moving?
What does losing inches mean?
Why am I not losing weight but losing inches?
Why am I losing inches but not weight?
If you are losing size but not weight, be happy. Your body may be burning your fat while preserving your muscles.
What do you mean by weight loss?
When people mean weight loss, what they mean is to get fit and lose that fat around their belly, chest, thighs, butt and lower back. But they measure fat loss with weight loss, but fat loss and weight loss are different.
It’s a common practice to track body weight while on a fat loss aka weight loss journey. Monitoring the progress daily or every week, you can be motivated or demotivated.
If the scale moves down - happy
If the scale didn’t move - unhappy
What are the limitations of weighing scale for tracking a fat loss aka weight loss program?
- 1The scale shows your overall weight. It can’t differentiate between your lean body mass and fat mass. The weight includes your weight of organs, the vital fluids and muscles along with the fat mass. So even if it shows a loss in weight, how do you know whether it's a fat loss or muscle loss?
- 2Scale can have errors; if you place your feet uneven can give some errors.
- 3If you are gaining muscles and losing fat, the scales don’t have any sensors to measure that. It will only show how much your body weighs.
- 4Your body weight keeps fluctuating throughout the day from morning to evening. This due to the food and fluids we intake and the things you excrete. It can also change through weekdays and weekends.
So following only numbers in the scale is not a good option. But at the same time, people who do frequent self-monitoring of weight has a good chance of following a weight loss program. This was found by the research titled Long-term weight loss maintenance for obesity.
The study also suggests that those who maintain high levels of physical activity along with low calorie and low-fat diets end up maintaining their weight loss in a better way.
If you want to maintain your fat loss then you can follow these steps as suggested by the study.
- High levels of physical activity
- Low calorie and low-fat diet
- Frequent self-monitoring of weight
#1 Losing inches but not weight - can be due to fat loss
If this is the case then you can celebrate; as you are in the path towards your goal. As we have seen above the scales can't differentiate between lean mass and fat mass.
FYI: the lean mass includes muscles, vital fluids, bones, organs and other tissues excluding your fat mass.
Fat is less dense than muscle. For a given weight, fat takes three times the spaces than muscle.
People when following some crash diets end up losing weight but not inches of fat. This is mainly due to muscle loss. As muscle takes less space than fat. Loss in weight can be easily noticed than any significant change in inches.
#2 Losing inches but not weight - can be due to muscle gain
If you combine your weight loss journey with a solid workout program. You will gain muscles. This will help you to keep your weight while losing the fat.
The muscles will increase your BMR ( the energy your body spends daily to survive). Increased BMR helps to burn more calories and increases your fat loss.
So you can keep your weight while losing inches of fat.
Now it's time to shift focus from tracking only weight in a fat loss program. We will show you other ways to track your fat loss.
A calorie-restricted environment will cause you to lose either muscle or fat. You can find out your calories requirement using a macro calculator.
When you do increase the protein intake and start lifting weights, then your chance of using the muscle for energy will get reduced. Your body will start using fat as fuel. There are other factors that influence this process. Read more about the fat-burning process.
This way you can lose fat without losing weight.
More reading: Weight loss and fat loss difference.
FAQ: Losing inches and not weight
How many inches can you lose in a week?
Studies have shown that the safest level of calories cutting will be 300- 500 calories minus your maintenance calories. So if you follow that route you will be losing around .6 - 1lb per week.
How many inches can you lose in a month?
If you follow a 300- 500calorie deficit on your daily calorie intake, then you can expect to lose around 4lb in a month. That will be equal to 1inch around your waistline. If you follow a crash diet you will start losing weight but not fat. You may see a weight loss of around 10 pounds in a week. But don’t expect it to continue, or it's a healthy option.
How many inches can you lose in a month safely?
The safe level means you are not putting huge stress by cutting a lot of calories and following a balanced diet. If you follow a balanced diet with a calorie deficit of 300-500 calories, then you can expect a weight loss of 2- 4 lb every month. This is an average value and can change from person to person.
How many pounds to lose an inch?
There have been studies that show that volunteers have reduced 1inch on average for every 4 pounds of weight. So you can also expect a figure around 4pounds. For every 4 pounds, you can expect to see a reduction of 1inch.
You can analyse and measure your success in different ways.
Let’s start to measure fat loss
- You can use skinfold callipers to measure your body fat percentage. At first it will be difficult and may take some time. But once you learn to use it, then it will be reliable.
- Use a BIA (bio-impedance analysis) device to measure your body fat percentage. It’s not that accurate, but more reliable than scales. Body hydration level can affect the values of BIA. if your health club has a BIA device, then use it to measure and track the value in a journal.
- If you closely observe the clothes you wear, you can find some changes with their fit. (not losing weight but clothes are looser) This is a good indicator of fat loss.
You can use the above steps to track your fat loss. Even using your body weights is not a problem, don’t see it as the one factor that determines your progress.
From now onwards measure your fat loss with body fat percentage(using BIA or skinfold callipers).
Read more about the fat storage mechanism.