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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What an awesome article! I was giving myself some destructive mental talk earlier this morning. I hopped on the scale yet again. I am still the same weight that I have been for the past two weeks. I know that I am losing inches left and right, though. I am so glad that I discovered this article. Thank you for posting this! I really am going to make the effort to lock the scale away in my closet. I may weigh myself on just a monthly basis, but it has been driving me nuts weighing myself weekly. I may even take Brian’s outlook and weigh myself next year 😉 I can’t thank you enough for the inspiration, and I will be sharing your article everywhere!
I’ve been the same way. I month on the low carb diet and I’m down 6 pounds. I have went from a size 20 to a 16. Thank God. I was getting pissed every time I stepped on the scale. I do hope I lose the pounds soon. Staying focused and not giving up.
Isn’t it odd how brainwashed we are?! I too was weighing in per week, but with extended travel my weigh-ins have been monthly. Love buying one or two articles of clothing in a smaller size. Pounds not gone so much but inches loss are still there!
Thank you for this article, i echo the comments posted before mine, i have been doing a low carb diet for about 8 days, and my pants fit better, but my scale has not really moved much..maybe a pound or two..but i just feel…lighter..looking forward to the woooshhhh!
Thanks!!!! This is the info I have been looking for. When you reach this stage it can be frustrating and discouraging. Staying the course is the only good option.
I feel so much better after reading the article. I have lose inches according to my clothes but at the Drs this more his dam scale hurt my feelings and I was about to give up after all no lbs lost so why continue right? Thanks to the article I am going back to what I have always said before- ditch the evil doer known as “THE SCALE”!!!!!!
So sorry for the misspelling-my Droid has a mind of it’s own tonight.
Awesome article! I was down a pound yesterday and up 2 pounds today. Strange but my clothes are getting looser. I have lost a total of 7 pounds in about a month and a half. But the past 2 weeks i have been up and down a pound or two. I just don’t get it. More water i will be drinking. I will not give up because i my clothes are getting looser. Not to mention bread makes me bloat and i feel so uncomfortable.
OMG! THIS morning, after knowing I look better, lighter, faster, stronger hahaha 😉 and I had read to measure myself first day – THANK goodness. 17 DAYS and I’ve lost 5 1/2 inches round my waste! but the scale only says 9.5 lbs! My husband and I talked and I said, “how is that possible? I’m doing this to the LETTER, MTC oil, bombs, the whole 9, not one bump, so natural for me”…and YOU ANSWERED MY QUESTION. I’m so damn ready to give up conventions, like weighing myself every day…I mean, I KNOW I’m smaller DUH…cuz those conventional “diets” of the 80s and on, MADE ME overweight AND THAT SCALE? Oh it and I don’t talk much let’s just say. *holds up hand* So having it tell me I’m not looking and feeling as good as I AM?! Oh HECK no.
So, ta ta scale *holds up finger defiantly* weigh this. 😉 ..OK maaaaaybe once a month. 😉 lol
Thank you thank you thank you…I’m FREE!! Man, people should talk MORE about what Ketogenics does for one’s general MOOD along with the energy (your first paragraph made me laugh so hard, thanks!)…you know? I have been grieving and sad after I lost my mother for FOUR YEARS too, as well as packing on the lbs. and I have never felt more even, cool, happy and clear *shrug* since day 1 (of course about three days of flu-ish feelings but then BOOM) – they REALLY should prescribe this diet for mood disorders too, I’d bet.
LOVE TO ALL. Don’t stop – FOR YOU ~ Hez
Great Read!!! Thank you!!!
I am compelled to tell you tho (I cannot help myself!! ITs one of my pet peeves!) that feathers DO NOT weigh less than lead weights!! A pound of feathers and a pound of lead is STILL A POUND!!
HOWEVER, a pound of lead TAKES UP LESS SPACE than a pound of feathers. So while overall, this makes sense, it is perpetuating an error in thinking that I see folks post about all the time.
A pound is a pound is a pound. It just takes up different amount of space depending upon what it is made of 🙂
If you are measuring by volume, instead of weight, it is entirely different. Imagine filling gallon jugs. One with weights, and one with as many feathers as you can stuff into it, it won’t weight a fraction of the one filled with weights.
I am so relieved to have read this article. I can’t imagine what I would look like now if I had seen this years ago. Thank you so very much. You have truly saved my life!!!
Hello and thank you so much for this article not only did you explain what was going on with my body but you broke it down in layman’s term for me to understand. I do feel better and lighter but still have a way to go but this post has helped me from getting discouraged….with that being said I can’t wait for the big woosh and will be drinking a little more water.
Thank you for this article! Great information. I was getting discouraged with my low carb diet. My clothes are fitting better and I feel so much better, but the scale is reflecting a 1lb. weight loss after 2 weeks. I will stay the course!
Thank you, it makes so much sense the way you explained this, I will keep going!
The answer I was looking for! THANK YOU! Ditching the scale!
This is the best explanation I have ever heard on the subject! Now I know I am not going crazy! Thanks for spelling it out so well. Makes total sense now! Especially the part where the body will sometime let go of the placeholder water. Wow, great job.
Thank you – This article saved my insanity today. I’ll be adding more water and not checking the scale daily. I moved the darn thing around the house to see if it was my floor messing up the scale. I feel much better after reading this and sharing with my other friends going through the same dilemma. THANK YOU!!
Thank you, thank you, thank you soooooooo much for this article. It makes so much sense and I hope this FINALLY frees me from the scale obsession that makes me so frustrated and feeling a failure even though I look and feel better as well as loosing inches.
First, thanks for the helpful info. Second, this was really enjoyable to read. Well done!!!
I am 1 month today on Keto lost nothing on scale. Trousers feel loser have lost 1 inch off stomach and waist.
My skin is glowing. Scale is so annoying as the first 4 days I lost 3.5lb then all slowly went back on again.
My top half I have lost nothing I seem to be losing from my thighs, stomach and waist but nothing on scale.
I have no cheat days and my menu consists of this:-
Celery and Beetroot drink
3 Bacon, 2 sausage patties and 2 boiled eggs
Sugar free jelly with cream
Bolegnese with turnip, cabbage and cheese
Can you give me some advice. Please and thank you.
I’m new here but wanted you to know … try intermittant fasting (supper not past o pm and no breakfast next day and.. lunch at 12 pm). Works for me … not losing much weight, but down 2 pant sizes since April.
September 29, 2022…started my Keto, low to no carb “lifestyle”, as of today, April 28, 2023 down over 70 lbs and three dress sizes…unreal. I tried everything to get healthier but nothing worked for me and I didn’t stick with it. My 175 to 200 blood sugar is now at a steady 80 to 95 and blood pressure totally normal. My doctor was amazed. Fasting? from 7 pm to 6am only. I am 71 years old and that works for me. Good luck everyone.
Thank you for sharing your story!