How To Effectively Track Your Fat Loss

The road to losing fat looks different for every individual. Stay motivated on your journey with our tips to help you track your fat loss.

Body composition, performance, and how you look and feel are based on a combination of factors. These include diet, sleep, stress, hydration, rest, and even your own frame of mind [1]. Without accurate data, it can be difficult to measure and see your results, which can lead you to lose motivation.

At Plexus, we help our clients track their fat loss progress using the following key metrics. When used correctly, they can help you develop better habits, which translate into long-term, sustainable change and a heathier life.

What should I track when I’m trying to lose fat?

1. Weight

Scales can be a useful tool for measuring fat loss, but only when the data is understood in context. Every time you step on a scale, it weighs everything. This includes fat, muscle, water, organs, every bite of food and sip of water. Most home scales won’t tell you if you’ve improved your body composition, or if the reason you’re heavier is due to your natural cycle, or a higher salt intake [2]. However, they can still be used to identify trends.

At Plexus, we recommend our clients weigh themselves two or three times a week. Weighing daily can cause unnecessary worry about natural fluctuations in weight, which are not reflective of your actual progress. By weighing yourself a few times a week, you will be able to identify whether your weight is moving in the right direction.

Ideally, you should try and weigh yourself at the same time each day, wearing a similar amount of clothing. First thing in the morning, on an empty stomach and after using the toilet is ideal. This is to eliminate some of the reasons your weight fluctuates on a daily basis – such as eating different foods that lead to varying levels of water retention. It’s important to remember that weigh-ins are just one measurement. For this reason, we recommend using additional measurements to help you track your fat loss.

2. Waist measurement

Your waist measurement can indicate the levels of internal fat deposits on your heart, kidneys, liver, digestive organs and pancreas [3]. By using a tape measure to identify changes in your waist, you can track your size and body composition, even when the scales remain the same.

Just like the scales, we recommend you don’t measure every day. Instead, measure the narrowest part of your waist once a week. This will help you identify fat loss trends, without getting hung up on minor changes.

3. Photos

Taking progress photos is one of the best ways to see changes in your body composition, which may not be reflected by the scales. They will also help you to identify muscle gain, loss in visceral fat (abdominal fat) and changes in your complexion [4]. Because weight loss occurs so slowly, it is often hard to see it by simply looking in the mirror. We recommend our clients take progress photos every three months. This is enough time for the change to be visible, and it helps to boost motivation.

4. Nutrition

If you want to maximise your results and build long-term healthy eating habits, tracking your nutrition is a must. It will help you to understand what nutrition your body needs and see the direct impact it has on your performance and body composition. We have written a three-part nutrition series for those looking to learn more about nutrition. We break down the fundamentals of nutrition, how to calculate the macronutrients and micronutrients you need for your goals and how to track your calories and macros using MyFitnessPal.

5. Steps/activity

Tracking your steps and activity will show you how much movement you are getting throughout the week. Ideally, you should balance your training by including a mix of strength training, active recovery and cardio. Active recovery includes low-intensity exercise, such as yoga or walking. This keeps blood and other bodily fluids flowing, which delivers blood and oxygen to muscles and speeds up recovery [5]. It will also help burn additional calories. In fact, completing an extra 10,000 steps each day can burn around 2,000 to 3,000 additional calories per week [6].

6. Sleep

Getting enough sleep can have a massive impact on weight loss. Research has identified changes in people’s weight when they get less than seven hours of sleep a night [7], with short sleep duration found to increase the likelihood of obesity by 55% in adults [8]. Poor sleep can also increase your appetite, making it harder to eat the right portions [9]. It can decrease your level of self-control [10], and increase cravings for foods that are high in calories, carbs and fat [11]. Not getting enough sleep can also decrease your resting metabolism, meaning you will burn less calories at rest [12]. On the contrary, getting enough sleep will see you more motivated to exercise, and recover faster [13].

7. Stress

Stress can prevent you from losing fat as it affects your hormone levels and can induce certain behaviours. Researchers have found that when you are stressed, glucose is released into the blood stream. This is your body’s way of giving you the energy you need to escape a situation and is often referred to as the “fight or flight” response.

After this, your blood sugar spike drops, cortisol kicks in and with it comes cravings of highly palatable food. This can prompt you to reach for these foods, which are often over-consumed. As a result, these extra calories may prevent fat loss and potentially even lead to fat gain. In addition, stress has been shown to slow your metabolism, making it more difficult to lose fat [14].

Need more help tracking?

It’s important to remember that the fat loss isn’t linear. Even you don’t see progress in the short-term, by taking steps to improve your health you are still making a positive change.

At Plexus, we work with our clients to track their fat loss by using a simple spreadsheet with a traffic light system. This takes an average of their metrics, and colour codes them green, orange or red depending which direction they are tracking.

If you need help tracking and maintaining your weight loss from a personal trainer on the north shore, contact us.

References:

[1] https://lifeasahuman.com/2019/health-fitness/5-factors-that-impact-your-workout-performance-in-the-gym/

[2] https://www.health.harvard.edu/should-you-weigh-yourself-every-day#:~:text=A%20small%20percentage%20of%20daily,every%20day%20of%20the%20week

[3] https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/heart-health-education/healthy-body-weight

[4] https://blog.myfitnesspal.com/experts-debate-should-you-take-before-and-after-photos/#:~:text=I%20recommend%20before%20and%20after,showing%20you%20results%20over%20time.

[5] https://plexuspt.com.au/blog/training/training-after-an-injury/

[6] https://blog.fitbit.com/should-you-really-take-10000-steps-a-day/#:~:text=Completing%20an%20extra%2010%2C000%20steps,extra%2010%2C000%20steps%20each%20day.

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2398753/

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2398753/

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC535701/

[10] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16880772/

[11] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15583226/

[12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4701627/

[13] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sleep-and-weight-loss#TOC_TITLE_HDR_7

[14] https://www.verywellmind.com/how-stress-can-cause-weight-gain-3145088