When you are trying to lose weight it is easy to get fixated on the numbers on the scale, as it validates all your hard work…but does it really? What makes the scales change can be more than a reduction or increase in body fat and they are not necessarily an accurate reflection of all your hard work.
Athletes are an excellent example of why scales don’t tell you what you need to know about how well you are progressing with your healthy weight loss goals. Athletes have a high percentage of muscle in their body to be strong enough to compete and low levels of fat so they are not carrying unnecessary weight that might slow them down. Due to this on the traditional BMI measurement of weight to height ratio, many athletes are considered overweight and in some cases obese.
This is because athletes have an increased level of lean body mass, and it is not only ideal for athletic performance, it is also ideal for reducing your risk of developing diseases like heart disease and diabetes, as well as unnecessary injury from bone fractures.
Therefore, if you have been trying to lose weight but are finding that the scales aren’t reflecting the time you have put into exercising this could be due to you building muscle. Even though it may seem a bad thing when you look at the scales, it is a sign of a healthier, stronger body.
The list below outlines some key factors that indicate if you are succeeding at increasing your lean body mass but your scales show you are putting on weight:
- Are you feeling like you have more energy each day?
- Are your clothes feeling looser?
- Did you drop a size last time you bought new clothes?
- Are your blood results from the doctor showing lower cholesterol or blood sugar levels?
- Have you been able to reduce any of your medications?
- Are you exercising more often than you used to?
- Are you eating better and being more mindful of your food choices?
- Are people noticing that you have lost weight?
- Each month your weight decreases a little more on the same set of scales at same time of day in same type of clothing?
- Is there a change in your comprehensive anthropometric measurements?
You may be wondering what is a ‘comprehensive anthropometric measurement’. These measurements are taken through analysis your body fat and muscle composition, which is great if you like to have numbers to support your progress. There are several options that are considered relatively accurate measurement tools, and certainly more accurate than the single anthropometric measurement provided by your humble scales when they are measured regularly. These include:
- Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) which includes your bone mineral density (BMD) or
- Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA), which uses the resistance of electrical flow through the body to estimate body fat
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Computed Tomography (CT)
- 7 point Skinfold combined with 5 point Circumference using callipers and a tape measure by an Accredited ISAK Anthropometrist
So is it time to ditch the scales? No, not entirely, they can still provide you with some information on your progress and general health. But you do need to consider what else is happening in your body that maybe affecting those numbers, measure your progress in a number of different ways and keep up your motivation to strive for a healthier you!
Image sourced from: http://masteringmymidlife.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/going-weightless.html