Measuring for weight loss progress the wrong way can set you up for a lot of mental pain. Find out how you can do it the right way.
There are all these different numbers you can calculate and tools you can use. It can get a little confusing at times. Focusing on a simple yet effective strategy can help you out a lot.
Different things to measure
It might sound simple what to measure when “losing weight”. However, there is a difference between weight loss and fat loss.
You don’t just want to lose weight, you want to lose body fat. Body fat is the main unhealthy thing about carrying around extra weight. For example muscle can increase your weight but that doesn’t make having muscle unhealthy.
So when trying to lose weight you can measure a few different things.
The first one is weight, the number on the scale.
This is the most commonly used number to track your progress. The main reason is probably because it’s so simple to find out. You just have to step on your inexpensive scale at home and you get a number.
The problem with weight is that it’s not always an accurate representation of your progress.
You can see it for yourself with a simple experiment. Step on the scale, remember the number and drink one litre of water. Then step on the scale again. Your weight will have changed by one kilogram (+-2 pounds).
The thing is, you have not gained any fat. This same situation can happen in all your measurements.
The second one is fat percentage, how much of your weight is because of body fat.
This basically comes down to [weight from fat] divided by [total weight]. Things like how much you ate and how much water you drank will still influence this number but a lot less.
This is basically the “best” measurement to keep track of your fat loss progress. The problem is that fat percentage is hard to measure accurately.
There are consumer devices available but they are not always simple to use or accurate.
The third and final measurement number that will be discussed is circumference, the distance “around” certain body parts.
Circumference is a descent way to measure your progress. If you gain muscle you will see less circumference progress so it’s entirely what you want. However, the volume of muscle is a lot less compared to the same weight in fat. So, even then you should see circumference progress.
This measurement number is fairly easy to discover and accurate.
Here are some body parts you can measure the circumference to track weight loss:
- Waist: at the belly button
- Hips: at the widest part of the buttocks
- Thighs: at the same distance above your knee (for example 10 inches)
- Biceps: at the same place
How should you measure for weight loss
So, which one of these three should you track and how often?
Stepping on the scale first thing in the morning is such a convenient way to track progress. This makes it the best way for most people.
You do have to keep in mind that weight measurements will swing up and down from day to day. The trick is just noting down the number but not putting too much emotional attachment to it. Then every week or two you can take a look at the numbers. If you see a downward trend you’re doing a good job. If not something might be wrong.
If you notice that your pants keep getting less tight but you’re not losing weight, you’re probably doing a good job.