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Why the number on the scales is not the best indicator of weight loss progress


Source: Life hacker

Libra can deceive you. You exercise and diet, but the weight does not change. You are upset, even ready to give up everything and admit that you are hopeless. Do not rush to give up a healthy lifestyle! The number on the scale is not the best indicator of progress. Life hacker figured out a few reasons why your body is changing, but the weight remains the same.

Photo: Shutterstock

Why fat leaves, but the weight does not change

1. Muscle mass is growing

If you are engaged in strength training, the composition of the body gradually changes: muscle mass increases and body fat decreases. In this case, the body becomes more toned and slim, but the weight can remain in place.

It is not so important that the relief is hidden behind a layer of fat. If you do strength training and eat well, your muscles will grow.

2. Fluid retention

For the first days of a diet, a person can throw off several kilograms at once, judging by the weights. However, there is nothing special to rejoice about: not fat but water is leaving.

To lose a kilo of fat, you need to create a deficit of 7 kcal, and this is almost impossible to do in two days, even if you eat nothing at all and exercise constantly, which obviously will not improve your health. It works the other way around too: you can lose fat, but water retention will keep the number on the scale the same.

Your body can hold water for various reasons:

  • Consumption of large amounts of salt. Salty food retains water in the body and leads to the release of glucocorticoids - hormones that interfere with muscle building.
  • Menstruation. Many women experience fluid retention in the body before menstruation, and especially on its first day. Moreover, this effect is reduced if a woman begins to train.
  • Long flights. Changes in cabin pressure and long periods of inactivity can cause water retention and swelling.
  • Taking certain medications. Certain chemotherapy drugs, pain relievers, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants can cause fluid retention.

To find out how much you actually lost weight, you need to find out not the weight, but the percentage of fat. There are several ways to determine this.

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How to find out the percentage of fat

1. Buy smart scales

Smart scales find out the percentage of fat using BIA (bioelectrical impedance analysis) or bioimpedance analysis of the body.

When you step on the scale, it sends a small electrical impulse through your body and determines the percentage of fat, muscle mass, bone weight and the amount of water in the body. The data is synced to your smartphone and saved so you can track your progress over time.

Here are a few budget models:

  • MGB Body fat scale;
  • Xiaomi Mi smart scales;
  • Picooc mini;
  • Meizu Smart Body Fat Scale;
  • Yunmai Mini.

2. Calculate using a special calculator

Online calculators use formulas based on the girth of different parts of the body. This is mainly the method of the US Navy, which takes into account the growth, girth of the neck, waist and hips, and the method of the sports doctor Covert Bailey, which uses the girth of the hips, one hip, lower leg and wrist. Here are a few applications that have such calculators:

Body Fat Calculator - US Navy Edition

Navy Body Fat Percentage Calculator and Tracker

Body fat calculator

To make the data as accurate as possible, follow a few rules:

1. Measure parameters always at the same time - in the morning on an empty stomach.

2. If possible, ask a friend to measure you. This will help you stand relaxed and your measurements will be as accurate as possible.

3. Take measurements correctly:

  • Waist - measure by the thinnest part of the abdomen, a few centimeters above the navel.
  • Hips - measure across the widest part of the hips.
  • One hip - in some calculations, you need to measure the circumference of one hip. Measure on the widest part.
  • Neck - measure over the widest part.
  • Wrist - Measure at the narrowest part.
  • Forearm - measure over the widest part.
  • Leverage - measure over the widest part.
  • Shin - Measure on the widest part.

4. Take measurements once a month, not more often. The composition of the body does not change quickly, so you will receive well-marked results no earlier than in a month.

5. Record your results: weight, girth of different parts of the body, percentage of fat. So you can track the progress.

3. Orient by clothes

Since a kilogram of fat is much larger than a kilogram of muscle, a change in body composition affects your size.

With the same weight, you may notice that the shorts have become much looser, the fat sides that used to hang over the belt of the jeans are gone, and the slip-on dress is now not tight at all.

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This method is obvious, but many people, not seeing the changes, prefer to think that the clothes have simply stretched. Scroll through old photos, see how your clothes sat on you and how they look now. Perhaps you are in for a pleasant surprise.


  • If the weight does not change, this does not mean that you are not losing fat.
  • Weight may remain the same due to muscle building or fluid retention.
  • To determine how the percentage of fat changes, you need a smart scale or a tailor meter and a percentage of fat calculator.
  • Weigh yourself and measure your fat percentage at the same time - in the morning on an empty stomach.
  • Do not wait for quick changes: the fat goes away gradually.
  • Keep exercising and dieting. You will certainly lose weight, become stronger and fit.

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