“I’m losing weight! (but not size?)

Awhile back I posted a blog titled “I’m losing inches! (but not pounds!) which has turned out to be one of the more popular pages so far.  If you are new to the Mytrainerchris page, you can find it here: https://mytrainerchris.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/im-losing-inches-but-not-pounds/

It can be boggling,  how could a person weigh less, yet retain nearly the same size? Unless you are on a helium diet, the following are my usual suspects…

1. Measurement errors.  Body measurements including scale weight, tape measure, calipers and bio-impedence readers are imperfect.  Your body weight moves up and down throughout the day, in some cases up to several pounds/kg’s.  The foods foods you eat, the amount of water you can retain and how much your stomach bloats following a meal can all alter measurements.  In the case of skin fold calipers and measurement tape, a slight variation in placement can alter readings.

2.  Measurements need to be taken of multiple parts of your body.  Typically this includes the waistline, thigh, chest, shoulders and upper arm, calf and neck.  If you are only measuring the waistline, please note that this is usually the slowest portion of the body to reduce size.

3. Weight loss typically comes before size loss, but the amount of each is not equal nor exactly proportionate.  Losing weight means you lose fat, water and muscle.  The goal of course is to lose fat and maintain and preferably build muscle.

When you lose fat, which is less dense than muscle, you lose bulk.  When you lose muscle, you still lose weight, but you lose less size.


4. Your current workout program could be causing you to lose more muscle than fat.  During a recent 12 week transformation challenge, I noted a contestant who spent hours nearly everyday on the cardio equipment at a modest speed drinking fat-burner drinks.  I can only recall him lifting weights once.  In the end, he did indeed lose both size and weight, which is awesome and will certainly benefit his heart and joints, but his overall composition looked like a slightly smaller version of his previous self.  Personally I would have prescribed doing less exercise at a higher intensity, allow his body to recuperate between sessions and couple his cardio training with resistance to build muscle.


5. You body is a miser.  This taps off nicely with point #4, during endurance based exercises your body burns the muscle’s glycogen stores.  The more you train, the more your body becomes miserly with glycogen expenditure, better at refueling it and you become more bio-mechanically efficient, therefore expending less overall energy.  Therefore you lose less fat.

With resistance training, and varied workouts including HIIT, MIxed Martial Arts and CrossFit Workout of the Days, you’re utilizing other aspects of your muscles, and your body spends glycogen more freely.

With my current weight loss clients, I prescribe cardio after our resistance/HIIT training. I want to lower their glycogen stores before they engage in steady-state or interval cardio training.


2 thoughts on ““I’m losing weight! (but not size?)

  1. Pingback: Getting rid of that belly fat! (Part 1 of 5) | My Trainer Chris

  2. Pingback: MyTrainerChris Best of 2013 and message for 2014 | My Trainer Chris

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