Out, Out, Damn Scale! Why Am I Not Losing Weight?
We low-carbers have all been there before. You were on induction for two weeks and have been following your eating plan carefully, your clothes seem to be fitting more loosely, and you have more energy, but the number on the bathroom scale is stubbornly stuck in the same place.
How the hell does your body hold onto weight and still manage to get smaller while you are on your chosen low-carb diet? It can make you feel like screaming: why am I not losing weight?!
Your scale isn’t telling you the whole story. There are a couple of simple explanations to help you get through this trying time.
Losing inches but not weight is still fat loss
If you’re losing inches and getting healthier on a low-carb diet, throw your scale in the trash – it’s a liar. At least put it up somewhere that’s really, REALLY inconvenient to get to so that you won’t be tempted to ask its opinion every single day of your life. Much good progress has been derailed or ruined by relying too heavily (pun intended) on what the scale has to say. When you’re dieting and exercising, not losing weight doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem.
If you’re feeling better and your clothes are looser, do you really need the scale to tell you that you’re on the right track with fat loss?
Of course not!
Why do you think you do, then? I’ll tell you why:
The low-fat diet demons have a tenacious hold on your brain. That’s right – you’ve been brainwashed. All your life, they have told you through doctors, dietitians, newspaper and magazine articles, surgeon generals and the like, that you give up X calories per day, your fat loss will be a pound of fat. They even go on to tell you how much fat you should lose each week. In the process, they’ve made you dependent on the Monster Scale to gauge your progress!
That mentality doesn’t help when you’re losing inches but not weight on your low-carb diet.
What a big lie about fat loss!
Even on the diets that “they” advocate, the Monster Scale does not often cooperate. You demand to know why the scale doesn’t reflect the torture you have put yourself through for a month, and the so-called experts immediately start backpedaling on the “give up X calories and lose a pound of fat” story. Instead, they start talking to you about things like water retention and muscle buildup. It’s always water retention and muscle buildup.
Sometimes, they even blame it on you with questions like:
Are you sure you counted the calories in everything you ate?
(This is inevitably delivered with a knowing little smile that makes you want to rip their knowing little face off.)
It can’t possibly be that difficult, can it? Do you really need to track every single calorie and every ounce of energy you expend to have a chance at weight loss?
Hint: you don’t.
Get off their bandwagon, already! Losing inches but not weight is still good.
Maybe it’s not about the experts – maybe it’s about the competitive spirit.
You hear the incredible weight loss numbers that other people have achieved on your chosen diet.
Brian went on an Atkins low-carb diet a year ago and lost over a hundred pounds! Just think – a hundred pounds in a year is over eight pounds a month, or 2 pounds a week, or .0119 pounds per hour…
Hey, you aren’t Brian! Plus, did Brian ever actually say that he lost .0119 pounds per hour? No! He lost 100 pounds in a year on his low carb diet. This only proves he got on the scale twice; a year ago, and yesterday.
Take a hint from Brian. Stay off the scale!
The second solution is to understand what is going on in your body in light of the current state of human affairs. Today, all a person needs is money and transportation to a grocery store or, better yet, a nice restaurant, to easily access three meals a day. However, your body’s survival instincts have not matured in a million years, give or take. Your body still thinks you are a hunter-gatherer.
Yes, in spite of a million years of evolution, your body still thinks you are going to have to go out and kill a mammoth to eat. The survival instincts with which you are going to have to come to terms are read-only memory. You can’t overwrite them. Deal with it.
That said, let me tell you what happens when you lose a pound of fat:
Your body has been saving this fat for that long hunting expedition you’re going to have to go on to track, kill, dress and retrieve that huge animal. It keeps the fat in little pillows distributed throughout your body for safekeeping.
When you start losing fat, your primitive body doesn’t trust you to continue whatever insane path you have chosen that is causing the fat to dissipate. So, when the fat comes out of the pillow, it injects water as a placeholder. Sometimes that water replaces the weight and/or volume of the fat you lost.
Water weighs more than fat, just like lead sinkers weigh more than feathers.
If you stuff a pillow with a pound of feathers, you’ll have a nice big pillow. If you stuff a pillow with a pound of lead sinkers, you’ll have a nice (if rather uncomfortable) small pillow. Are you following?
Now, let’s say your body removes a pound of fat and replaces the weight with a pound of water. Your weight will stay the same, but you will be smaller. But, if your body decides to replace the lost fat by volume, that is a quite different story.
Remember the great big feather pillow as compared to the tiny lead sinker pillow? Well, now think of a gallon of feathers and a gallon of lead sinkers. Try to pick up the gallon of feathers. Piece of (you’ll pardon the expression) cake. Now, try to pick up the gallon of lead sinkers. Sucker’s heavy, ain’t it?
Back to the point: When your body replaces the volume of fat with the volume of water, you may still be smaller…but you will have gained weight.
Eventually, your body makes the executive decision that you are not going to replace the fat you lost and lets go of the water. In the words of Danny Skaist:
When your body accepts the fact that they are no longer needed, the water will be expelled and the cells closed. This is known as the “whoosh.”
What makes your body decide to replace it by weight or replace it by volume?
The scientific answer about Losing Inches is “I dunno.”
But I do know that it does not seem consistent to the casual observer. What makes your body decide that you are seriously not going to replace the fat you lost? I also dunno. But now you know why it’s so important to drink your water, huh?
Loss of fat is inextricably related to water intake. It’s more than a little foolish to go on a diet that facilitates the removal of fat and then refuse to give your body the tools it needs to do so.
Remember that going low carb is a lifestyle, not a temporary diet. We all want fast, dramatic results, but unfortunately, most of the people who lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time soon find it again. Take before pictures so you can compare how you look now with the way you looked a few weeks ago and trust the process.
Disclaimer: This is not meant to be a scientific explanation of fat loss when losing inches but not weight. It is simply meant as an easy to relate to and easy to retain workable explanation. In the words of Dan Williams: “Someone else can go into more of the science of it.”
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