working out but not losing weightDo the scales always tell the truth about my fat loss?

The answer to this is “yes” and “no”.  The scales will always measure your weight loss or gain, but not necessarily your fat loss or gain.  The human body is made up primarily of solid mass (bones), lean muscle (muscle tissue) and fat tissue.  If you are significantly over weight, the scales are a good indicator of your progress up until the point where you are perhaps only 15 pounds over weight.  Why is this?  When we are very over weight, our goal is to lose body fat and this can be achieved through a combination of healthy eating and exercise.  The thing is however, that exercise naturally builds muscle mass (weight) so as you’re losing weight through fat loss, you’re also gaining weight through muscle gain.  Now before you breathe a sigh of relief and think, “ah, that explains why my weights been going up the last few weeks and not down – I’m still doing fine”, we need to be very cautious.  Building muscle is a slow process and you’re only likely to put on a couple of hundred grams of muscle mass a week (if that) if you’re lifting weights and doing plenty of resistance training, yet fat loss occurs at a much greater rate, particularly if you are significantly over weight.

If you want to lose weight, the reality we shouldn’t be so concerned with our weight but more our body fat percentage.  There are many ways for measuring this, but watching the way your pants fit is one of the best!

 Hey!!  I’m the same weight as always but my clothes don’t fit!

This is a complaint often heard from middle aged women and relates to our discussion above in many ways.  As we age, we generally become less active and more sedentary, placing less demands on our muscles.  As a result, they tend to atrophy (shrink).  This does happen naturally to a degree, but the old saying, “use it or lose it” comes in here.

The muscles of the body are 3 times more dense than body fat which means one “cup” of muscle tissue weighs 3 times more than one cup of body fat.  Therefore, 1/3 cup of muscle weighs the same as one cup of fat and takes up 1/3 of the space of the equivalent weight of fat.  Do you follow me here?  It’s important that you do, so read over it again so you understand the math.  How does this relate to women complaining they haven’t gained weight, but their clothes don’t fit?  Well hear me out….

As mentioned before, due to inactivity and lifestyle, as we age the heavy muscle disappears through lack of use and natural aging processes which in theory would amount to us losing weight.  This doesn’t typically happen however.  Because we have less muscle as we age and therefore less energy burning power (muscles burn calories/energy) we gain fat.  The fat we gain might weigh the same as the muscle we’ve lost, but it takes up 3 times as much space!!  This means we don’t fit the same size clothes we used to, and although our actual weight hasn’t change, due to the fact our body fat percentage has increased considerably we may in fact be classed as obese.

Filed under: Weight Loss Myths

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