I had a client ask me this question when he’d been exercising more than ever, trying to eat properly and still did not see the needle on the scale move – at all! He was discouraged and frustrated to say the least. My immediate response was another question: how often are you weighing yourself? He said every morning.
That’s the first mistake. Your weight will fluctuate daily depending on a variety of factors. I always suggest you weigh once a week on the same day and as close to the same time as possible.
If you weight daily as he was and saw your weight go up and down by 3 or 4 pounds but never really change – you can safely assume it’s due to fluid fluctuation. You can’t lose 3 lbs. of fat in one day…and then gain them back the next only to lose them once more. Your fluid levels are fluctuating. It takes more than one day to lose 3 lbs. of fat.
Also think about your activities. Did you play two sets of tennis under the hot sun and sweat a ton? You definitely lost fluids you must replace. Did you work out for 2 hours in the gym and end up drenched? You lost fluids. If you weigh and the scale shows weight loss – it is just water.
Next, if you truly are eating properly and exercising consistently and you have not lost “weight” consider that you may be losing fat. The thing to look at is are your clothes fitting more loosely? A good practice is to take your measurements periodically – like once a month. It may well be that you have lost fat AND built lean muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat. Your body composition can change – for the better – and the number on the scale can stay the same or even go up slightly.
So how can you ensure you consistently lose fat and not just water? Here are my top 3 tips:
1. Don’t fall for restrictive, severe fad diets. Be sure you are eating balanced meals. Those diets that tell you to eliminate or severely restrict any food group (like fat or carbs) is not healthy and you will not be able to stay on it for long. Besides, the diets that promise fast weight loss usually just cause fluid loss. Balance and choosing high quality, fresh whole (real) foods is key.
2. Include some form of clean protein with each meal. Protein is necessary to repair and build muscle.
3. Be sure to keep yourself adequately hydrated. Your body needs enough water for all metabolic processes. If you feel bloated, chances are you are dehydrated. Drinking enough water is the BEST natural diuretic there is.
Usually in the first 20 minutes of exercise you lose water weight, after 20 minutes you will start to burn real fat calories. So make sure to pass your threshold of 20 minutes.