Why measurements are important?
It is important to know if your diet works. Even in the short-term. This is important for your further actions, motivation and choices.
Measure it wrong – and you’ll be totally lost as for what works for weight-loss and what does not. For example, eating pizza at night may result in weight gain in the morning. Knowing that, you’ll avoid pizza. However, this was not fat gain, just water from carbs and salt. You can totally eat pizza at night and lose fat. If you are in calorie deficit.
Similarly, cutting carbs for a few days will show as a few pounds lost. However, it will be a loss of glycogen and water. So you’ll continue avoiding carbs, thinking that it helps you lose weight. We all know though that you can eat carbs and lose fat as fast as without carbs.
What works best?
To know exactly how your progress is going, ideally, you must use DEXA scan. It can measure body composition very precisely.
Before googling it, you should know that it is, most probably, not available to you. And if it is available, using it regularly is expensive and inconvenient.
Calipers are more accessible, but equally impractical because not many PTs are trained well to use it. I can do it for you with my quality calipers using Bioprint method. It will cost £50 pounds (just text me to arrange a meeting 07547716237), but honestly, better go buy new trainers.
I advise to get the most out of the scales and measuring tape.
Throw into the bin the advice to throw scales into the bin.
Bathroom scales is a great measurement tool. Of course, body composition measurement methods like DEXA scan or proper calipers are better, but not easily available.
Don’t focus on getting to certain weight though – use scale only to observe the progress.
Important: untrained individuals might grow muscles under conditions of calorie deficit, but growing muscles is much slower and harder than losing fat – take it into consideration. Add measuring of circumferences (waist and hips) to have a clearer picture of results.
To sum up
We can always be discouraged by what scales say. When there is no reason to be discouraged.
And although scales are a valid progress measurement tool, especially for trained individuals, the readings can be heavily misinterpreted.
2-4 pounds weight fluctuations because of water retention/flushing can be a common situation.
We may store water for weeks (especially when constantly elevated cortisol is involved)
Therefore looking at the trend over a longer period of time rather than comparing 2 separate dates is a better method of progress measurement.
And therefore if weight plateaus in spite of consistent calorie deficit, one needs to be careful with conclusions. Sometimes a good night sleep or a week of recovery from exercise or even calorie increase(yes!) may help to flush the water.
Very often, one just needs a bit of patience to wait and see.
Now, what happens on holiday. This is such a good example.
We normally are ‘very good’ before the holiday. Everybody is on 2 weeks of crash diet and binge exercise before they fly off. We are normally glycogen depleted (much lighter than if we would maintain a normal lifestyle) before a holiday and therefore the result after a holiday can be even more shocking.
Weight gain/loss is not fat gain/loss.
And in the health and fitness game, we are after FATLOSS.
Most of us lose weight fast after a holiday. This is not your amazing metabolism. This is water flushing away💦💦
Important, this can be influenced by cortisol: some people lose weight on holiday in spite of ‘bad diet’ because stress hormones drop and water release.
In the same way, some people will gain weight after holiday stressing about holiday weight gain😥
If you are prone to binge eating, booking all-inclusive low activity holiday is booking a disaster. Avoid at all costs.
Fat loss expert, elite group fitness instructor and personal trainer based in Sheffield.