So you’ve been listening to Kayli and I about how to lose body fat and you’ve adjusted your diet and you’ve started resistance training. That’s fantastic news. Wait . . . you say the scale is up this morning. Oh man that must have been scary huh? Well guess what! I have more good news for you, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing and it’s totally normal.
Fat loss and weight loss are not linear. It is very common and incredibly normal to see the scale go up and down from day to day. This is why I suggest that you weigh daily. Now, if you struggle with body dysmorphic disorder or the scale causes you severe emotional distress, that suggestion changes. When you weigh daily and record that weight somewhere, you can plot the weight on a chart and you will see the overall trend going down. We don’t care about what is happening in the micro perspective here, it’s the macro that matters.
When you are in a fat loss phase, you should be watching several different metrics. I suggest keeping track of your body measurements, biofeedback, how your clothes fit, and the scale. Oftentimes the scale won’t move but you notice your clothes are looser and your measurements are dropping. This is usually a good indicator that you are gaining muscle mass and losing body fat. None of these metrics by themselves are good indicators of your progress. You must look at all of them together. As a matter of fact, the very definition of a plateau in fat loss requires a consecutive 4 week of no scale movements and no measurement movements. Unless both are stalled for 4 consecutive weeks, you are still making progress.
There are several things that can cause the scale to fluctuate. Your body weight can fluctuate up to 4% from day to day depending on the situation and your body. Water can often be a driver of scale weight. You could have been dehydrated one day which made your body hold on to more water, this can make the scale go up. Your body could be inflamed from a hard workout, this can make the scale go up. You could have undigested food left in the gut which would make the scale go up. You could be full of poop. I don’t mean that facetiously. If you’re struggling with constipation or you didn’t get enough fiber to help you clear out your bowels, the scale will go up. Stress, lack of sleep, eating later at night, eating fried or sugary foods can all make the scale go up. It is important to be aware that in order to gain 1 pound of body fat in a day, you had to eat 3500 calories OVER your maintenance calories. So if you eat 2000 calories per day just to stay at the same weight, you would need to eat 5500 calories that day for the increase in the scale to be due to body fat. So the next time the scale is up 2 pounds from the day before. Ask yourself, “did I really eat 7000 EXTRA calories yesterday?” I would almost guarantee the answer is no.
Since I mentioned measurements, I feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a swing in the other direction. I mentioned all the different types of metrics that you should watch for a reason. We don’t just watch these to test the validity of the scale. They are important in their own right. For example, say the scale is going down and you’re super stoked about that but the measurements are not dropping. That’s discouraging isn’t it? If you are a person with quite a bit of extra weight to lose and the scale starts dropping but the measurements are not budging and you aren’t noticing a difference in your progress pics, there’s a good chance you are losing fat, but it isn’t going to be the superficial body fat that gives your body shape. You are most likely losing the visceral fat first. This is the fat that surrounds your organs. This is a good thing. Do not let this discourage you. This is why the first 10 pounds lost causes the most impact on your health markers on lab work with your doctor. When you drop the visceral fat, your body can work more efficiently.
I would strongly suggest watching several different measurements of progress. Scale, measurements and photos are all great ways to judge your progress. I would argue that even if those things aren’t moving or changing, but you feel better, you are winning. Oftentimes if you chase health and wellness, the body you want will come later and then you can really enjoy your newer body and actually feel better in it.
If you would like more 1 on 1 help reaching your fat loss goals fill out our coaching application to hop on a free coaching call so we can discuss your goals and see if you would make a great fit for the Phoenix Rising Program.
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Kayli is a certified personal trainer and online coach that specializes in fitness, wellness, nutrition, mindset, mobility and everything in between.