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Fat loss 101: The scale is not nearly as important as you may think.

Nailed it.

For the second night in a row, last night I woke up five times to urinate. I almost always wake up once every night to use the bathroom, but five times is a little annoying. I’ll sure be glad when the excess water weight from my splurge week (er… weeks) is finally gone! Actually I think that may be the last of it, perhaps one more day at most.

Of course the initial water weight loss is showing up on the scale: I’m down 3.4 pounds since Monday morning.

Fat loss 101: Scale weight is the least important measurement for evaluating your progress!

Fat loss 101: Scale weight is the least important measurement for evaluating your progress!

Something I hear quite a lot from people who don’t know a great deal about fat loss is, “My diet started off great – I lost 5 pounds the first week, but now the scale is barely moving! It’s so frustrating.”

What I’m about to write is fat loss 101, but considering some of the emails I’ve been getting over the past week I need to get it out there. 🙂

First of all, when you switch from a poor diet to a “clean”, healthy diet, your body will almost always release water. As I touched on in yesterday’s blog, the reason for the initial water loss when starting a fat loss program is because your body has a preferred electrolyte (mainly sodium and potassium) to water balance. When you consume a lot of salt (which pretty much goes hand in hand with a poor diet), your body retains more water to maintain that electrolyte/water balance; when there is less sodium in your system your body reduces the amount of water it’s storing.

Water is very heavy (8.35 pounds per gallon), so it’s very normal to see an unusually large scale weight loss over the first few days of a fat loss program. After this initial water loss, a scale weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week is about what you should expect if your diet and training are solid.

All this talk about scale weight brings me to my main point: scale weight is not that important. Another mistake most beginners make is they live and die by the number shown on the scale. The truth is scale weight is just one small part of the data you should be looking at as you evaluate your progress:

As regular readers of my blog know, I perform all of these tests first thing every Sunday morning. These measurements only take about 5-10 minutes to perform, and the information provided by these simple tests is vital to evaluating your progress and making adjustments, if needed.

For an example of one of my typical Sunday stats reports, check out my December 18, 2011 blog (or any other Sunday blog).