If you’re working toward a physical transformation, seeing the scale refuse to budge can be super disheartening. When you train hard and diligently track your nutrition, you expect to see a downward trajectory, right? Unfortunately, that’s simply not how transformations work—that would be nice, though!
At Envision Fitness, our team of personal trainers and nutritionists are here to guide you on your journey toward becoming your healthiest you. A fundamental part of that journey is learning how to accurately measure progress so you can make the necessary adjustments to your routine. If you’re relying on your scale or BMI to track your transformation, you’re missing critical information. Here’s why you should ditch the scale and track accurate measures of progress instead.
Your Scale Is a Terrible Tool for Tracking Progress
If you’re trying to shed weight, you should weigh yourself frequently to stay on track, right? Nope. That notion is utterly false. The idea that a bathroom scale can accurately track your progress toward your transformation goal is, unfortunately, misguided.
When you practice resistance training and track your daily food intake, your body undergoes a process known as recomposition. What this means is that you’re gradually losing fat while simultaneously increasing muscle tissue. Since muscle is denser than fat, it occupies less space (volume) inside your body, but it weighs more than the equivalent volume of fat tissue.
If you’ve ever heard that muscle weighs more than fat, that’s a misnomer. A pound of muscle is the exact same weight as a pound of fat, but the appearance of the two is drastically different.
For example: Let’s take two friends who display the exact same scale weight. One of them has a high body fat percentage while the other has lower body fat and a higher proportion of lean muscle mass. Even though the friends have identical scale weights, the individual with more body fat appears larger than his friend because fat tissue occupies more volume than muscle.
Unfortunately, your scale can’t differentiate between fat, muscle, bone, and water weight, so it displays the only number it knows to be true: your total mass. If you’re losing fat but gaining muscle, your body is gradually shrinking, but according to your scale, you haven’t lost much weight. Here’s what your scale will never tell you:
● The type of weight you’re losing (water, fat, or muscle).
● The amount of muscle tissue you’ve gained in proportion to the fat you’ve lost.
● If you’re losing inches
● Whether your clothes fit better
● Whether your body is retaining water
When you place too much importance on your scale weight, you inevitably develop a false perception of your progress, and a negative one at that. Our advice? Ditch the scale! Or at least take its reading with a grain of salt. You wouldn’t tolerate a liar in your life, so don’t tolerate one in your weight loss journey, either!
The Problem With Tracking Body Mass Index (BMI)
Much like your scale weight, your BMI gives a false perception of progress because the calculation relies on the number your scale displays. While many medical institutions rely on BMI as a measure of obesity and health risk, it’s an antiquated calculation that doesn’t accurately represent an individual's body composition. According to BMI charts, even the legend himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was considered obese! Inaccurate is an understatement.
BMI is nothing more than your weight-to-height ratio, calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared. The calculation does not take muscle or fat mass into consideration, which means it does not accurately measure your degree of leanness.
In Schwarzenegger’s case, a tremendous amount of dense, lean muscle mass and very little body fat meant he weighed far more than what is considered “normal” for his height. Though he was in fantastic shape and clearly not obese, his BMI told a different tale.
The same goes for you: when you lose fat mass but gain lean muscle, you become smaller and healthier, but your weight may not change significantly. If you input your weight and height into a BMI calculation, the resultant figure will only change in proportion to your weight. And, as we discussed, scale weight is not an accurate measure of progress, either. Bottom line? Don’t bother with tracking your BMI as it won’t accurately reflect your real progress.
So what should you track?
Body Fat Loss & Lean Muscle Gain: The True Determiners of Progress
If you want a real picture of your progress, the only way to paint it is by tracking your actual body fat loss and lean muscle gain. The goal of any physical transformation is (obviously) to lose body fat, but in the process, you’ll inevitably gain muscle tissue if you’re exercising regularly. And muscle is exactly what you need if you desire a smaller, stronger, healthier, and fitter physique.
As we discussed, muscle occupies less space than fat; when you gain muscle and lose fat, you become smaller, stronger, healthier, and more agile. But here’s the really neat part: muscle is more metabolically active than fat, which means it burns more calories than fat tissue even at rest. According to researchers, 10 pounds of muscle burns about 50 calories per day at rest; 10 pounds of fat, on the other hand, burns a mere 20 calories. Which would you rather have more of?
At Envision Fitness, we accurately measure our clients’ progress by tracking both fat loss and muscle gain because it’s the only method that actually works. By measuring the numbers that truly matter, we can periodically adjust and refine your nutrition and exercise routine to encourage ongoing progress. How do we do it?
When you let us help guide you through your transformation, we track your critical stats from day one. During your free consultation, your personal trainer will measure your:
● Body fat percentage
● Lean body mass (muscle and bone)
● Body water percentage
● Resting metabolic rate (RMR)
● Metabolic efficiency
● Visceral fat percentage
We then track your body fat loss and lean muscle gain at routine intervals to ensure you’re on target to reach your goal. If we relied on scale weight or BMI calculations, we’d have very little information from which to tailor your plan. Sure, the scale might tell us you’re losing weight, but how do we know whether you’re losing fat and not muscle?
Bottom line? Scale weight and BMI are the least important numbers you should be tracking! Tracking changes in your body fat and lean mass percentages is the only method you can trust to reveal what’s truly going on throughout your transformation. Check out our client success stories for proof!
Ready to Make a Change? Start Your Transformation with Envision Fitness
At Envision Fitness, we committed to empowering you. Through custom personal training, individualized nutrition coaching, and constant accountability, we give you all the support you need to reach your goals—you just have to show up and do the work! We also offer group fitness classes and weight loss classes at our Hopkins, MN gym to foster strong community and consistency among all of our members. To learn more about how we can help you achieve your fitness goals, contact our team at 952-444-2791 today. Or, if you’re ready to get started, go ahead and request your free fitness consultation!