It’s 5 am, you sleepily roll out of bed and hop on the scale to see the same number pop up from the last few weigh-ins. Frustrated, you carry on with your day contemplating throwing out your scale because it’s a liar, right? Surely showing up consistently to Camp and nailing nutrition, the number should change. Maybe it’s because muscle weighs more than fat and that’s why the number hasn’t changed?
Not so fast.
Muscle and fat weigh the same, pound for pound. However, muscle is denser than fat, therefore taking up less space which is why losing inches is possible without the scale budging. Scales are a quick way to help gauge progress. The only problem is, it doesn’t give us the whole story. Scales are best used alongside other metrics to help illustrate what change is occurring. Here are some examples:
Daily Energy Levels
Consistency with nutrition
Circumference measurements (thigh, neck, waist, and arms for example)
Performance at workouts (strength, speed, mile pace, and recovery time)
How clothes fit
Sleep duration and quality
Relationship with food
Stress (just to name a few!)
Tracking some of the above on a daily or weekly basis can help paint a picture of how successful you are with your health & fitness. Relying solely on one metric is missing the bigger picture.
It's also important to keep in mind the number on the scale isn’t an indicator of how much muscle or fat we have, and even if the number goes up or down, we don’t necessarily know if it was muscle, body fat, water or glycogen, among other things. However, we can get a better idea if we look at long term trends along with other metrics.
How fast can results be expected? This is challenging to answer because everyone will be different. But, we do have control over our actions which lead to the results we want to see when we are consistent with our training, nutrition, hydration, and sleep. There are some broad recommendations when it comes to targeted rates of weight loss, (caloric intake, sleep, training, etc). 1-2 pounds lost per week is commonly referenced but it’s not relevant to the individuals total body weight or body composition and might be inappropriate for some.
For example, 2lbs lost for a 125lb individual is 1.6% of their body weight while 2lbs lost for a 250lb individual is .8% of their body weight.
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