Some people live and die by the scale, whether they weigh less than the day before can literally change their whole day.
If they weigh less than yesterday, then today is a great day!
If they weigh more than yesterday then watch out…
But aren't Body weight and Body fat the same?
No, they are not.
In my how to actually lose weight article I used the two terms somewhat interchangeably but they have different meanings, which we will expand upon here.
Your body weight (how much you weigh on the scales) and your body fat (how much fat you carry in your body) are two related but different things. You see there are many factors that go into your body weight but there is only one that goes into body fat.
There is only one thing that contributes to your body fat. How much fat you have – duh!
Your body fat stores are kind of like an ‘energy storage facility’ for your body. When you don’t eat enough energy from food to accomplish all the stuff you do in a day your body will take energy from the stores. This is the underlying principal of fat loss. To lose fat you must consistently make your body pull energy from its energy stores. You gain body fat when you eat more than you burn in a day, the extra energy gets put into the stores for later.
Your body fat doesn’t change quickly. There are 3500 Calories in one pound of fat. If you pull 500 Calories a day from your stores you will lose 1lbs of fat per week. Losing 1-2 lbs of fat a week is a challenging but possible rate of fat loss for most people depending on how much fat they have to start with.
Note: Gains in muscle are even slower – around 0.5-2lbs of muscle gained per month under optimal conditions.
Body weight, on the other hand, has many factors and can change rapidly. Even worse, your body weight can change drastically day-to-day without your body fat changing at all!
Here is the quick-and dirty list of factors that can change your body weight but not your body fat:
In summary, if you had the perfect storm of all these factors tipping in one direction you could gain 6-10 lbs over a couple of days without any changes to your bodyfat. The flip side of this is that you can lose 5lbs very quickly (especially if using a low Carb diet) without much bodyfat coming off.
The trick is to remember that fat loss (not weight loss) is the result of slow and steady progress. If your weight is trending the right direction over weeks and months, you’re doing it correctly. Don’t put too much stock in overnight changes in body weight.
Also, use body measurements, how clothes fit, and the mirror/camera (as well as weighing yourself) to track your progress. If weight comes off and you look no different, or you look different and the weight doesn’t change chances are that you need to re-weight for a few days to see an accurate representation of your body.
Note: I personal hate of mine is when magazines promise that you can lose 20lbs in 2 weeks. If you do the math it’s physiologically impossible and it’s just there to pray on the insecurities of the reader. F*** those guys.