Losing weight is a good thing, right? Uh-uh. Not always.
All around the world people eagerly weigh themselves in the hope that not eating that piece of cake has helped them drop a few pounds.
But what if I told you that losing weight should not be your main goal, and that by only using body weight to track their progress they could be making a huge fat loss mistake?
If you want to succeed at [easyazon-link asin=”078688732X”]transforming your body[/easyazon-link] – whether it’s for the beach, or simply so you can run around with your kids – you must understand the concept of body composition to give yourself a more informed view.
Body Composition Basics
When you jump on the scales, you are measuring your total body weight. But that number doesn’t really mean anything. If you only told me your weight and height I would have a difficult time figuring out what you looked like and what body shape you had (provided you are not significantly overweight or underweight).
Body weight alone does not tell me where you carry that weight on your body. In order to know if you are fit and healthy I need to know what percentage of that weight is fat, and what percentage is lean tissue.
The ratio of body fat to lean tissue weight is known as your body composition. If you had a higher than average body weight, but a low body fat percentage then I would know you are lean and muscular. You have a healthy body composition.
If you had a high body fat percentage and weighed above average, then I would know you are overweight. You have an unhealthy body composition. Body composition is the reason why one guy can look lean, defined and ripped at 200 pounds, whilst another looks like a fat blob.
Why Focusing on Weight Loss Alone Causes Problems
Imagine that you dieted for a week and lost 2 lbs. You are happy.
But where did that 2 lbs come from? Did it come from your fat or muscle tissue? Only going by the scales won’t answer this crucial question.
If you’ve lost 2 lbs of fat and preserved all your muscle mass, then you have done a good job. You’ve improved your body composition by lowering your body fat percentage. You will look better and are on your way to a successful body transformation.
If, however, you have lost 2 lbs of muscle and no fat, then you will just be a smaller version of what you were before. Your body shape won’t have changed at all. This is why you can lose lots of weight and yet still be unhappy with the way you look in the mirror. Not only that, but by losing muscle mass you are weaker and your metabolism has decreased. When you come off your diet and go back to eating normally, fat gain is inevitable.
How to Measure Your Body Composition
The simple way to determine if your diet is going to plan, is to measure how much fat (not weight) you have lost.
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The best way to do this, is to get your body fat percentage measured every month or so. If your body fat is decreasing whilst you lose weight, then your diet is a good one. If you are losing weight but your body fat percentage is increasing, then you need to change it immediately.
Body fat can be measured by using [easyazon-link asin=”B0000AN3UB”]skin-fold calipers[/easyazon-link] or [easyazon-link asin=”B002QH9QZA”]bio-impedance devices[/easyazon-link] built into bathroom scales. The skin-fold calipers are much more accurate (when done by a professional).
If you are unable to determine your body fat percentage using the methods above, all is not lost. Take regular circumference readings from various body parts. Waist, hip, chest and thigh measurements are probably the best. Make a note of them so you can compare at your next assessment.
Finally, use the mirror and the way your clothes feel. Is your belt getting looser? Are your muscles more defined than they were? If yes, then you are on track. If no, you need to make changes.
Understanding how you are losing weight is critical to ensuring your diet is a success. Using body weight alone only tells you half the story. By assessing your body composition at regular intervals, you get the full picture, allowing you to make intelligent, informed changes to your fat loss diet as necessary.
Ryan Rhodes is body transformation specialist, helping people implement a scientific gimmick-free approach to fat loss and build the best body of their lives. His website, BodyTransformationLab.com teaches people the correct way to rapidly lose body fat, radically alter their shape, and build the best body of their lives.