How to effectively monitor your progress during a diet?
How to follow your weight loss evolution?
Is weighing itself the most effective method for visualizing one’s progress ?
When we talk about weight loss , diet , we come quickly to talk about numbers …
” I lost X kilos, ” ” I have more than Y pounds to lose, ” …
Everything revolves around weight and value on the scale!
Yet, is this really the most accurate way to track progress ?
And if I say that, it’s because I know something about it: we receive emails every day about this specific subject 😉
” I can not lose weight or very little and this despite my efforts … I am sure to be in caloric deficit and bodybuilding in the rules of art “
Does the fact that the numbers do not move or little on the scale should it lead us to conclude necessarily that these two points would not be respected?
No, not especially, we’ll see together how some people do it wrong …
The thing is that it starts from a good intention: that of a regular monitoring of its progress.
Unfortunately, these people are wrong indicators: if it is interesting to have an idea of where you are, relying solely on the scale is a mistake.
Between fluctuations due to water retention , muscle gains and fat loss, weight alone is not accurate enough.
Stop focusing only on weight or body mass index
Weight has never been and will never be a reliable indicator .
Here, what you really want is to lose fat, not lose weight.
On the contrary, if you lose weight too quickly, it is an indicator of poor weight loss.
It means that you lose muscle (which weighs heavier than fat) in parallel with fat.
Let’s take an example to make it simpler:
Lara begins a diet, she measures 1m65, weighs 65 kg.
At the end of her diet, Lara weighs 53 kg, so she lost 12 kg.
Yet Lara still does not have the body she dreamed of …
Lara is what is called a “skinny fat”, literally translated, a “thin fat”.
Basically, she looks skinny, but she does not have a flat stomach and has cellulite on her thighs and buttocks.
She did her diet the wrong way, limiting herself too much on calories, doing little sport, and consuming a little protein.
She lost too much muscle, so her figure did not look as fine as she wanted. She lost weight, but not the right weight. She did not target the fat.
If we look only in terms of weight, -12 kg is already not bad.
The thing is, as in our example, we have no way of knowing what these 12kg are made of.
Muscle, fat, water?
How to know ?
That’s why we need to look at new indicators .
Namely indicators that will allow you to gauge your true progress .
Here are 5 ways to track your progress more accurately than just looking at the weight on the scales every morning:
1. Take pictures
We’ve all seen amazing videos or slideshows of people who have lost several dozen pounds or have undergone a physical transformation.
Well, these people all started at the same point: they were overweight and decided that it would change 😉
And what better way to follow his physical transformation than to take pictures?
So, of course, if you consider that you have pounds to lose or that you are not comfortable with your body, I understand that taking pictures may seem unpleasant.
But be sure that once you reach your goals, these photos will be considered as proof of your success and your efforts .
So, it is not useful to take a picture every day , the difference will be negligible.
As for the scales, once a week is enough .
Be sure to take your photos at approximately the same time of the day (the fasting morning is the easiest).
And with the same angles and the same brightness .
History to see the changes.
The best is to take 3 pictures: face, side and back .
And not to try to cheat by contracting the abs, trying to get in the belly, etc …
What we want is an image at the instant t of his body.
By doing this, you will see that you can quickly see significant changes .
And believe me, there is nothing more effective to motivate you to continue your efforts 😉
2. Test your strength
What does it mean ?
It means that when you do an exercise, you will have a repetition called “maximum” or “reference” repetition .
How many repetitions and at what weight ?
In squat, press, bench press, etc …
By noting the progress of your sports sessions – and it works for cardio too – you will have a clear idea of how your abilities are evolving.
And this, especially if you had noted these values and you have followed.
Is not it gratifying to see that we went from 20 kilos to 60 kilos in squats?
Or that we went from 8 km / h for 20 minutes to 11 km / h for 45 minutes for example 😉
I advise you to write down the weights used and the repetitions performed for each of your workouts .
Thus, you will have a much more precise idea of your capacities, and of your future evolutions.
In addition to that, again, seeing the numbers increase – this time – you will have a motivation boost too.
3. Take your measurements
Combined with the percentage of fat mass (point # 4), the measurements are a very reliable indicator and very relevant to analyze and monitor your evolution .
The scale gives a “cold” indication.
But does not differentiate between fat, water or muscle loss.
And it is here that the measurements will play a role.
By measuring (with a tape measure) your chest, your waist, your thighs, your biceps and your shoulders and, again, by following the evolution, you will have a precise idea of your progress .
Once you have done the measurements, it is enough for you to compare them with those of the previous weeks to immediately report on the progress you have made.
Another interesting point is that by analyzing the areas where you tend to store fat, you can more easily prevent the risk of illness related to obesity.
A study of the European Heart Journal has shown that waist / hip ratio and waist circumference are positively correlated with higher risks of cardiovascular disease.
4. Measure your fat mass
As mentioned above, weight is not a sufficient marker to measure its evolution effectively.
On the other hand, it becomes it when one couples it with the rate of fat mass .
And one can get an idea of the fat mass ratio measuring the subcutaneous fat ( ie under the skin).
To do this we use a clip like the one that can be seen in the photo .
The result is not ultra accurate, what matters most is the evolution over the different weeks that will give you an idea of the fat loss over time.
It’s the percentage change that counts :
- For example if you have lost 3% fat but you have lost only a kilo, you have gained muscle at the same time. Which is an excellent result.
- On the contrary, if you lost only 2% fat but you lost 10 pounds, you lost fat AND muscle, which is not a good thing.
From the evolution of your body fat, you can adapt your training if you consider that you have not targeted fat enough:
- More muscle building or muscle building
- A diet richer in protein
- And possibly a lower calorie deficit (more calories every day, for example, from 1400 to 1500 or 1600 cal / day)
Last point to clarify, keep a critical opinion compared to the results obtained with the clamp.
For example, if your forceps tells you 15% while your thighs are fat … Your morphology makes you store a lot at the thighs but not at the place of measurement. The 15% indicated are therefore biased.
You can also turn to more precise and professional instruments to measure more accurately (such as impedance meter scales, sometimes found in hospitals or doctors).
5. Retry your old clothes
Very effective method to realize in a few seconds that we have made good progress 😉
So obviously, it’s less scientific but it allows to realize directly the progress made.
You may not have reached for example your goal of -10kg that you had set … But you’re swimming in jeans that was tight a few months ago … it’s good to know it 😉
The funny thing is that I just found an old jean that I put 6 years ago and was very tight at the time. And that was before the graduate years when I took at least 10 kilos. I had a lot of satisfaction to see that it was no longer tight at the waist. I told myself that I had not stagnated or made all these efforts for nothing!
So if you still have old clothes before your diet lying around, try them out and you will see that you will surely swim in them.
Track your progress in weight loss – The last word
To take stock of one’s progress is not just to analyze an indicator such as weight alone, but rather to know how to couple and interpret them in a good way .
This is why sports coaches have a job … 😉
That does not mean that you can not do a checkup yourself …
Just be careful not to misinterpret the indicators, it could mislead you later and possibly undermine your morale …
It is not because the weight stagnates that you do not advance, and conversely it is not because you lose 3kg / weeks that you automatically go in the right direction.
So, carefully follow the 5 indicators presented in this article and link them to both see where you have progressed and if there are any things to change in your diet / workout routine to further improve the results. 😉