Understanding Weight Loss – Fat vs Muscle


When it comes to weight loss, lots of people simply track the wrong things.  I saw on a forum that someone had lost nearly 6kg of weight, but actually lost 7.4KG of fat! How is this possible?

To help keep you motivated, it’s vital you understand the measurements and what they mean.  In this article we explore the best methods to keep track of your progress.

The problem with tracking weight

2KG of fat vs 2kg of muscle

Compare the difference between fat and muscle

Tracking weight loss is easy, however for many it can be the worst way of tracking progress.

There are many people who are trying to loose weight but seem to plateau, unable to shift the last few points.  The problem here is that whilst you might be loosing fat, you may well be gaining muscle at the same time, offsetting the weight loss.

For example, if you lost 2kg of fat, but gained 2.1kg of muscle, your scales will tell you you’ve gained weight!

 So how should you track weight loss?

Tracking weight loss isn’t really a problem, it’s when it’s done in isolation.  What’s important is to understand the relationship between body fat and weight.

By way of a real example, I’ll refer to someone’s progress from an online forum.  Here’s the data:

  • 15th June, 15 st 11 lbs (100kg), 60% body fat
  • 4th July, 14st 11.8lb (94.3kg), 56% body fat

After the diet (this person used a Huel Diet – read more about Huel here), and in just under 3 weeks had lost nearly 5.7KG – impressive amount of weight.

In this case, tracking just the weight does look impressive, but it’s more impressive than that!  To explain the figures above; with a starting weight of 100KG and 60% body fat –  60KG of the body weight is fat.

After the diet, 56% of the body is fat, so 52.8KG of fat ( 94.3KG x 0.56 ).

That’s 7.2KG of weight loss!

What if I can’t measure Body Fat?

There’s several methods of measuring body fat, ranging in accuracy.  Personally I use bio-impedance scales – the Withings WS-50 (see amazon link), but you can pick up some body calipers fairly cheaply. I  find body calipers to be tricky to use, especially on yourself!

The easiest method is to ignore your weight, and simply track your ‘Total Inches’. To do this, all you need is a pencil, a notepad and a tape measure. By measuring at key points on your body you’d be able to track your progress over time.

For more information on this, check out this article on eHow.

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