Posted on 17 September, 2017

Why Do I Lose Centimetres But Not Actual Weight on the Scales?

By Jacob Andreae in Lifestyle, Fitness, Health, Exercise, Change Why Do I Lose Centimetres But Not Actual Weight on the Scales?

[Image source: CBS News]

Losing weight is easy — eat less and move more. Or so they say. If weight loss is so easy, why do so many people struggle with losing weight and keeping it off? At the core of weight loss is certainly a calorie deficiency. That means to consume less calories than you are expending. However, there is much more to it than that.

[Weight] is only one measure. Any one measure doesn’t tell the full story.

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Food is much more than just energy. Sure, it is that. But a calorie deficient diet full of burgers, chips and soft drink is still going to result in physiological responses in the body that lead to fat storage, weight gain and a host of lifestyle diseases such as atherosclerosis and certain cancers.

Just recently, I decided to check what my BMI was. BMI stands for Body Mass Index and is an approximate measure of how normal your weight is for your height. Arguments aside for now as to it’s validity; I was shocked to see that the 2 kgs I’ve put on in the last couple of months from focusing my time on other aspects of my life beyond health and fitness, put me at the high end of the normal weight category. That means I wasn’t far off being considered overweight (3.5kg to be exact).

Weight is a good measure of progress on a weight loss journey — in the beginning. It’s also only one measure. Any one measure doesn’t tell the full story. Just like asking only one of your two children who did it when they both come running into the house crying and blaming each other for something they’ve done to one another.

I still like to use the scales to measure and track progress but I’m also aware that I need other measures to show the full picture. My other preferred measures include chest, waist and hip circumference, perception scales and photos. Measuring body fat percentage with a pair of calipers or body fat scales is also very effective. In my opinion, circumferences are the best measure. It gives a lot of information, can predict the likelihood of cardiovascular disease, gives a better measure of body transformation, is less intrusive and is easily accessible.

Why Do I Lose Centimetres But Not Actual Weight on the Scales?

It’s much easier to lose weight in the beginning.   
As with any new skill, your greatest progress comes in the beginning. This is because it’s a real shock to the system and your body is working hard to adapt. Eventually your body becomes accustomed to the exercise. It’s important to keep challenging your body in different ways in order keep your body adapting to the challenges your presenting it with.

When you start exercising, you actually start building muscle.
This may make it hard to lose weight on the scales. But let’s face it. You don’t just want to lose “weight”. It’s fat you want to lose. And this is why using the scales as your sole measure of progress is not a good idea. Putting on muscle (even for woman) is a good thing. And no, you won’t get big bulky muscles. Big bulky muscles come from eating a lot of food and doing lots of sets (not reps) of heavy weights. Increasing your lean muscle mass increases your metabolism. This means you burn more energy right throughout the day, even when you’re asleep.

Muscle is more dense than fat.
Therefore, muscle takes up less space than fat in the body. This is why you might see a reduction in circumferences but may not see a reduction on the scales. You might even see the number on the scales go up! This is okay. If your circumferences are dropping but your weight on the scales is going up, this just means you’re putting on more muscle. If you’re worried about it, see a personal trainer to get advice on the type of exercise you’re doing and check that it’s right for your body type. See this blog I wrote on body types for more information. You can also contact me or comment on this article. I’m happy to help.

Losing weight is much more than simply eating less and moving more. Weight loss is primarily about eating the right foods and that includes eliminating the foods you aren’t tolerant to. At it’s core however, weight loss still involves eating less than you are expending on a regular basis. Exercise is the cherry on top that speeds up the journey. It helps with increasing your energy expenditure and building muscle, which in turn, expends more energy, even at rest.

Do you (or have you) suffered from being caught up with the number on the scales? Share your weight loss story and the measures you used to track your progress.

About Jacob Andreae

About Jacob Andreae

I write and speak about Fitness, Nutrition and Mindset. 

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Why Do I Lose Centimetres But Not Actual Weight on the Scales?A quick start guide to losing weight and staying on track. Learn the strategies I use to eat and move for optimal health. Includes worksheets to enhance your motivation, commitment and discipline, along with a sample eating plan and exercise program.