Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Bodyweight: Should you be tracking it?

Whilst it is the most common metric to track (because it’s the easiest to measure and has been the main measurement people have always tracked historically), tracking body weight can be a double-edged sword.

Most people associate weight with fat, but in reality, fat is only a small part of what you’re weighing on the scales - muscle, fluids, bone, organs, even your dinner are also going to affect your “weight”.

What most people who want to lose weight actually want is fat loss, not weight loss (the two don’t necessarily have to come together).

The confusion around bodyweight can cause as much of a hinderance as a help.

Would I recommend tracking weight if your goal is fat loss?

It depends...

If you’re fully aware of what weight really means, and can check it, then forget it, then yes, it would be helpful to track it and keep an eye on your progress to see if what you’re doing is working or not.

But if you’re the type of person to get hung up on it, and stress about it if it’s not doing what you want (even through that my not mean what you think it means), then definitely no.

Also, daily weight changes can be huge (a couple of kilos up or down are quite normal), and you need to be aware that you simply can’t gain or lose weight from fat or muscle that quickly! Use some common sense.

Unless you’re swimming the channel or doing something of equal challenge, you’re unlikely to lose a measurable amount of weight from either fat or muscle in a day. Likewise, unless you gorge on 20,000 calories, you’re unlikely to gain much either. So, your pound or two weight fluctuation from one day to the next is almost certainly going to be down to, predominantly, hydration levels.

If you are tracking your weight, my advice would be to measure it daily, at the same time, under the same conditions (upon waking, after using the toilet will be the most consistent).

[If you don’t believe how important this simple tip is, weigh yourself first thing in the morning, as soon as you get up, then weigh yourself again that same evening and see how different the measurement is!]

Then take an average at the end of each week (add up all the weights then divide by 7). This will be a far more accurate way to track your weight that will even out the ups and downs from hydration levels etc. You can then compare your weight week to week to see if you’re making progress or not.

Women should also be aware (and I know you all are) that weight can vary dramatically over the course of the month. This is again due to hormones and fluids, NOT a sudden 5lb fat gain overnight!

You’ll have to compare each week/phase with the same week/phase next month to get a more accurate measure of progress. This may seem like too much, but your goal should be long-term, so you have the time to do this, and if you’ve chosen to use bodyweight as your main measurement, this is worth doing to get a real idea of your progress.

Week to week would not be a fair comparison for these reasons.

So, whilst it can be useful, it’s up to you whether you choose to use weight as a measure of progress. Just remember, if you LOOK better, FEEL better, and are STRONGER and FITTER - does weight really matter?

Obviously, the more metrics you can use to monitor your progress, the better idea you’ll have of whether what you’re doing is working or not. Personally (and with my clients), I track bodyweight (as described here), measurements (neck, chest, waist, hips, thighs as standard, possibly also shoulders, arms and calves), bodyfat % (as accurately as possible, usually using the naval method as well as bioelectrical impedance readings), and progress photos.

These, along with training records (have weights increased? Fitness levels increased? Recovery times improved?) give me a very clear understanding of how the program is working.

Track as many variables as you reasonably can and use these to monitor your progress, and don’t panic over a pound or two here and there unless it’s consistently going in the wrong direction!

Get in touch if you need more help :)


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