Weight loss journeys are by no means easy, with slips, trips, and temptations on every corner. When sticking to a diet plan and working out regularly, it’s only human we want to be able to see measurable results.
It’s therefore important to keep track of your weight loss to ensure your efforts don’t go to waste. Tracking weight loss not only helps you stay motivated to prevent you from falling off the wagon, but it’s also a great method to make sure we’re constantly progressing.
But what is the best way to measure weight loss? This article sums up the 5 best ways to track your weight loss efforts, we’ll identify the pros and cons of each method so that you can choose the one that’s right for you. Let’s get to it.
Using scales is not the only way to measure weight loss. In fact, using scales for weight loss isn’t even the best method. There are several other ways to track progress, motivating you to continue on your weight loss quest.
Here are the 5 best ways to measure weight loss:
Body measurements are one of the oldest and simplest methods to track your body weight. Using a tape measure you simply measure different areas of your body to see whether they have reduced in size or not.
You can then record the measurements in a log so that as you progress, you can look back and see how far you’ve come.
The common areas to measure are:
Apart from these body parts, you can also take body measurements at the forearm, shoulders, and calves if you wish.
This method is simple, cheap, and gives a good understanding of which part of the body is losing weight (unfortunately we don’t get to determine this!).
Similarly, to body measurements, skin fold calipers are another method that involves manually taking measurements from your body.
They are used to measure the amount of fat you have underneath the skin, and again, this method is great for understanding where abouts you’re dropping the fat from.
You can also plug the readings into certain formulas to give you an overall of your total body fat %.
To use skin fold calipers, you pinch the fat from a particular area, place the calipers on the fat and read the scale on the side of the calipers.
The common areas to measure are:
The good old scales are the oldest and most common method of measuring weight loss. The only thing that’s changed is that we’ve moved away from the manual scales and we’re now using digital ones (well most of us have anyway).
Simply step on the scales and hey presto, we’re told how much we weigh – there’s no faffing around with tape measures etc, within 30 seconds we’re told how much we weigh, and 20 seconds of that is walking to the bathroom to fetch the scales!
Scales are great for those who are motivated by seeing quick results, as you can see results within the first week of a fat loss campaign.
But the biggest drawback is that you’re measuring ‘weight loss’ rather than fat loss. The scales don’t take into account muscle mass, and if we work out (which we should be), the scales don’t take into account that we could be building muscle whilst losing fat.
With muscle weighing more than fat, this could result in the number on the scales not dropping.
With the number on the scales remaining the same week after week, we can quickly become de-motivated to continue on our fat loss quest.
That’s why we suggest that if you’re using scales as your primary measurement tool, you couple them with another method mentioned on the list.
When opting for scales as your chosen measurement tool, we suggest weighing yourself at the same time at each weigh-in (normally first thing in the morning after you’ve been to the toilet), so that we can accurately compare the differences between weigh-ins.
Muscle mass – As mentioned, scales only show overall weight with no consideration of how much of that weight is lean body mass
Area of weight loss – Scales show an overall picture of weight loss with no indication as to which areas of the body have lost weight
DEXA Scan is the gold standard for measuring weight loss. This high-tech amazingly clever piece of equipment tells you exactly how much fat tissue and lean mass you have along with providing information on bone density.
Not only will it tell you how much fat you have, but the printout you receive after the scan shows you exactly where your body fat lies, and how much of it is in each area.
The Dexa scan uses low-dose X-ray beams for its processing making it an extremely accurate way of measuring.
Typically, the Dexa scan is found in hospitals, clinics, research centres, and surgeries. A Dexa scan may be required as part of a health assessment, but you can also get them done privately if you’re interested in your body composition.
As you can imagine though, a Dexa scan is not cheap. You can look to pay around the £150 mark ($180) for a single scan.
Therefore it’s not likely something you could rely on each week to measure the progress over the last 7 days!
“A Picture paints a thousand words”.
Taking pictures is a great way to measure progress. All things considered, taking pictures is our favourite method to measure weight loss (more specifically, fat loss).
As we mentioned before, it’s likely the reason we’re working out is to improve our body composition and look better. So, it therefore makes sense to measure the thing we’re trying to improve – our looks! And what’s the best way to do this? Pictures of course.
Scales accurately show weight loss but can’t show how much of this weight is fat.
There’s room for human error with body measurements and skin fold calipers.
Dexa scans are too expensive to do each week.
But pictures… Pictures can be done by yourself, in the comfort of your own home, and can show areas where you’ve lost fat. Exactly what we’re after!
As you go through your weight loss journey you will notice your muscles start to look more toned as you strip away the fat. This will provide heaps of motivation to keep you striving towards your fat loss target.
You won’t have to transfer any measurements to another medium as your pictures are automatically stored on your phone and you can look back through the weekly pictures to see how far you’ve come.
As you can probably tell, this is our firm favourite!
When embarking on a weight loss program, we’re going to want to track our progress to make sure we’re heading in the right direction.
It’s advisable that not only do we measure our progress, but that we have a means of recording the results so that over the weeks we can look back to see how far we’ve come.
Each of the methods listed in this article are recommended methods to track your weight loss. Which one you decide to go with is a matter of personal preference. Pick a method that you’re most likely to stick with, provides you with the most motivation and one that suits your circumstances.
Remember, weight loss doesn’t happen overnight. Stay dedicated to your training and nutrition for at least a couple of months and you’ll be rewarded.