Monitoring Your Weight Loss: Is Your Weight Really Fat or Is It Muscle?
When you're trying to lose weight but exercising vigorously too, can you tell the difference between your new muscle weight and your fat weight?
Texas Tech University Associate Professor of Nutritional Science Martin Birks says that if you have a lot of muscle, you might have a high BMI for your height but that doesn't mean you're fat or unhealthy. He says that doctors' offices and gyms may use expensive weight scales that incorporate bioelectrical impedance (BIA) to help accurately detect your fat levels.
But Professor of Preventative Medicine at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University Dr. Tim Church says that if your waist size is more than 35 inches if you're female, or 40 inches if you're male, you're at risk for developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. You don't even need a weight scale – just a $3 measuring tape. If your waistline falls within these risk ranges, you definitely have too much excess fat.
But being self-conscious of your weight and weighing yourself regularly is actually a good thing. In fact, a study by Cornell University found it actually helps you lose weight! They found that people, especially males, who weigh themselves frequently rather than occasionally are more likely to lose weight and keep off the weight they lost.
Stepping on the weight scale frequently doesn't burn fat, but researchers theorize it makes you more aware of changes in your weight and provides you with active feedback with what's helping you lose weight and what's making you gain weight. With this increased sensitivity in your weight changes, you're more likely to lose pounds and keep them off. The problem is it doesn't work as well for women – and researchers can't figure out why for now.
They found you'll have even more success if you use graphs and spreadsheets to record you weight every time you weigh yourself. The data feedback will help you better correlate your weight changes with your lifestyle changes.
If you can't figure out if you're losing weight or building muscle and your waist isn't larger than 35 inches, then you can use a BIA body weight scale to calculate what your body fat percentage is. But, weigh yourself everyday to boost your chances of loosing weight and keeping it off!