So you’ve embarked on a weight-loss mission and you’re making good progress. The scale is going in a downward trend and you’re feeling pretty awesome about yourself. Then the worst possible thing happens. You measure yourself and to your shock, you’ve lost weight but not inches. What’s with that?
You can’t help but question why you’re losing weight but not inches. Does your measuring tape hate you that much? Well, there could be a number of things going on that would affect your ability to lose weight but not inches.
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Why Am I Losing Weight But Not Inches?
Weight loss is exciting. It’s fun but it’s hard work. It requires determination and perseverance at points. You might be at the start of your mission, midway through or near your goal weight.
You might be regularly checking the scale or just monitoring occasionally and notice that you’ve lost some weight. Then you go to measure yourself and notice that your inch loss doesn’t match up.
This is a pretty common occurrence no matter where you are in your mission and there could be many reasons why you’ve lost weight but not inches.
Let’s take a look at all the possible options here.
You’re Losing Visceral Fat
There are two types of fat in your body. Visceral Fat and Subcutaneous Fat.
While both types of fat can be stored in the belly, visceral fat is not visible and it’s stored around your vital organs such as your liver, pancreas and intestines. It’s usually the first type of fat to budge when you first start losing weight.
Losing visceral fat may not affect your measurements and is likely one of the reasons your losing weight but not inches. However, it will benefit your health by reducing your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
Subcutaneous fat is the jiggly fat that’s visible just under the skin. It’s harder to lose compared to visceral fat however, it can be done by having a healthy diet with a manageable caloric deficit and the right exercise program.
You’re Losing Weight But Not Belly Fat
One of the most important things you must realise when embarking on any weight-loss mission is that you cannot target fat loss from one specific area.
Let me just repeat that loud and clear.
Of course, there are many who tout certain pills, diets, and programs to spot reduce or target belly fat but you should think critically about what you’re being sold.
The simple fact is you will lose weight from different places across your body at different rates and it may not initially be from the places you want to lose from. This, of course, ties into a few points further in this post but can lead to you losing weight but not inches.
You’re Losing Muscle
Another reason you might be losing weight but not inches is that you’re actually losing muscle.
This is typical with fad diets that place you on a high-calorie deficit to make you lose weight fast. It’s less than ideal because you’re more likely to lose muscle which can be seen on the scale but not with your measuring tape.
Pound for pound, fat takes up more space in your body than muscle does.
And please don’t @ me with the usual rhetoric that fat weighs more than muscle. A more muscular person can look slim but be the same weight as someone of a larger build.
To avoid muscle disappearing when you’re trying to lose weight you need to use the right exercise program that includes both cardio and strength training. A few tips to be mindful of when trying to maintain muscle during weight loss include:
- Set a reasonable weight loss goal. You can read more about setting reasonable weight loss goals in my post detailing the easy way to lose weight.
- Focus on increasing your strength by including strength training in your fitness routine.
- Be consistent with your diet and exercise regime.
You’re Losing Water Weight
One of the most common reasons that you might be losing weight but not inches is that you’re losing water weight. This is likely true if you’re following a low carb or keto diet.
Glycogen, which is the body’s storage of carbs, holds water pretty well. When you restrict your intake of carbs you will lose water weight. This might see the scale drop significantly in the first few weeks of your new weight loss regime but typically after that your weight loss may slow down. This is when people tend to wonder what they’re doing wrong or even back track on their diets.
Some signs that you’re losing water weight include:
- You’re losing weight but your clothes don’t feel any looser.
- You’re seeing pretty aggressive weight fluctuations on the scale.
- You’re experiencing rapid weight loss but not many visible results.
You’re Measuring Different Body Parts
If you’re stepping on the scale and noticing a drop in the numbers but only measuring one body part this could be why you’re losing weight but not inches.
Your body will lose weight from all areas but it won’t be at the same rate. Some places are slower or harder to lose from than others so it’s important to take measurements from across your body:
The key thing to remember here is not to focus on waist measurement alone. You are likely losing weight from areas that you haven’t been tracking.
Your Measurements Are Inconsistent
When weighing yourself and taking your measurements it’s important to remain consistent.
I talk more in depth about this in this post detailing how often should you weight yourself. However, as a brief recap you should use the same device, in the same conditions to ensure that your weight and measurements are consistent.
- Weigh yourself at the same time of day (preferably in the morning, before breakfast and after using the bathroom)
- Weigh yourself without wearing any clothes
- Keep a record of your weight and measurements to track your progress
- In an app
- On your phone
- In your 90 day diary
- Use the same scale in the same room in the same position to ensure maximum accuracy
- Recalibrate your scale often, which is especially important if you happen to store it upright as I do
It’s also important to have reliable equipment. I highly recommend these Bluetooth scales that allow you to track 13 metrics by syncing up to your smartphone or tablet. These scales are a very helpful bit of technology and provide more context for your health and fitness levels than just a number of your weight.
You’re Losing Weight In Places You’re Not Measuring
You might have also lost weight but not inches because you’re losing weight in places that you don’t typically measure. This could be your calves, ankles, neck, chin or even your face.
When I started losing weight the two places I lost from first were my chest and my face. Although I was measuring my chest, I obviously couldn’t measure my face. However, this is where taking progress pictures can help to identify other areas of fat loss.
You’re Slouching Too Much
It might seem ridiculous but sometimes simple adjustments can make all the difference. This is true if you happen to be slouching when taking your measurements.
The simple remedy for this is to correct your posture and start again. You might be surprised at the results.
Your Diet Choices Aren’t Great
Here’s something that you might not want to hear but it could contribute to the fact that you’re losing weight but not inches. Your diet choices stink!
This next statement seems to be a mantra on This Extra Life but it’s true: Successful weight loss is built on 80% good diet choices and 20% the right exercise regime.
To promote weight loss you need to ensure that your daily nutrition is on point.
A few pointers to keep in mind include:
- Drink plenty of water (find out how water can help you lose weight here)
- Eat foods that are high in fibre
- Avoid eating fried or processed foods
- Eat until you’re 80% full
- Ensure your portion sizes aren’t too big
You’re Eating More Sugar Substitutes
Sugar alcohols are carbohydrates (just like sugar) but in only half the calories. They are naturally occurring in certain fruits and vegetables but are also commercially produced from sugars and starches. Typically if they have been added to foods it’s to boost the sweetness of that particular food.
Just to be clear, sugar alcohols don’t actually contain any alcohol, they just have the same chemical characteristics of sugar and alcohol.
The main differences between sugar alcohols and low calorie sweeteners is that sugar alcohols contain some calories and carbs. Unlike sugar alcohols, low calorie sweeteners (usually found in fizzy diet drinks) have been linked to weight gain.
If you’re looking to reduce your sugar intake and overall calories you might turn to sugar alcohols instead. However, you might find that they cause bloating and water retention.
You’re Eating More Fibre
So, yes I know, I just said that you should eat more fibre and you should. However, immediately switching to a high fibre diet can lead to water retention and bloating meaning that you might be losing weight but not inches. Therefore, yes, eat more fiber but increase your intake gradually so that your body doesn’t become too shocked by the sudden change.
When changing up your diet to include more high fiber foods try to stick to whole foods like fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
You’re Not Going To The Toilet
One of the reasons you could be losing weight but not inches is because your backed up.
One of the biggest parts of weight loss is elimination. That also includes eliminating waste from your body.
To enforce a regular bathroom routine you should aim to drink a glass of water first thing in the morning to help cleanse your bowels. Having regular bowel motions will help you to avoid bloating and constipation.
You’re Not On The Right Weight Loss Plan
Another reason you might have lost weight but not inches is due to your weight loss plan.
Many people starting their weight loss mission want to lose weight as fast as possible and often take this to the extreme. This can be counter active to your goals as you will likely lose water weight or muscle without losing fat.
Therefore it’s important to make sure you’re on the right weight loss plan. Some pointers includes:
- Avoiding poor food choices
- Stay away from unhealthy crash diets
- Aim for a sustainable weight loss of 1lb to 2lbs per week
- Set a realistic calorie deficit of between 3500 – 7000 calories per week, or 500 – 1000 calories per day
Your Exercise Program Choices Are Wrong
This may or may not come as a shock, but your exercise program can influence your visible weight loss.
Without the right cardio and strength training program it’s very easy to not see much weight or inch loss at all.
If you’re trying to promote a loss of belly fat, although you cannot spot reduce from one particular area, you can use the right program which should include cardio and resistance training.
This will help you to maintain muscle as you lose weight and will help you to lose more weight overall because muscle burns more energy than fat.
HIIT workouts are particularly helpful in boosting your fat loss. HIIT burns more calories than steady-state cardio, and the calorie burn lasts for up to 24 hours after your workout.
Your Genetics, Gender And Age Play A Role
You probably won’t like this but your genetics, gender and age might be a key factor in why you’re losing weight but not inches.
Unfortunately this is something that you have little control over but they can influence the speed and location of your weight loss.
The important thing to do is not get too hung up on the things you can’t control and focus on the things you can control like your nutrition and exercise program.
If you remain consistent you will achieve your goals although it may take some people a little longer than others.
Have you lost weight but not inches? Did you find this post helpful? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.