Why are you losing inches around your waist but not pounds?

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Why are you losing inches around your waist but not

When you’re trying to lose weight, you most likely use a scale to measure your progress.

If so, it can be demotivating and upsetting to find that you’re not losing weight, even when you see non-weight-related indicators like looser clothing or the need to tighten your waistline.

This article discusses why you may be losing inches but not weight, and what you can do about it.

You can lose weight and gain muscle

If you’re losing a few inches but maintaining your weight and doing regular strength training, you may actually be losing fat and gaining muscle. The process of gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time is called body recomposition.

Most scales do not differentiate between body fat and muscle. For example, two different people may weigh 68 kg, but have completely different proportions of body fat and muscle.

In this case, a person with a higher muscle to body fat ratio is likely to wear tight clothing and have a smaller body because muscle is denser and takes up less space compared to body fat.

Strength training combined with a low-calorie, high-protein diet promotes muscle gain and fat loss, resulting in body recomposition. (1) (2) (3)

If you are gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time, the weight may not be lost over time or the weight loss may be much slower.

This is one of the reasons why you shouldn’t rely solely on the scale to measure your weight loss progress. Additionally, your muscle-to-fat ratio is a better indicator of health than your body weight.

Although not completely accurate, you can measure your body fat and muscle mass at home using a home body fat calculator. ( 4 )

You can stick to water

Losing weight is not a linear process – it is full of ups and downs.

Some days you may lose weight, other days you may gain weight, and some days your weight may not change at all. Part of the reason your weight fluctuates is fluid changes or water retention.

You may be retaining water for a number of reasons, including:

  • Sodium. Eating foods high in sodium can cause your kidneys to retain water, leading to weight gain. (5)
  • stress. Whether it stems from major life changes, relationship issues, or financial problems, stress can increase the hormones that cause water retention. ( 6 )
  • menstruation. During the menstrual cycle, water retention and bloating are common. (7)
  • creatine. Although creatine is effective in increasing muscle strength, it can temporarily increase the amount of water in muscle cells. (8)
  • medicines. Certain medications, such as blood pressure, blood sugar control, and anti-inflammatory medications, can cause fluid retention. (9)

The stagnation of water in these cases is usually only temporary and goes away on its own.

You may have hit a weight loss plateau

Most weight loss usually occurs during the first 4-6 weeks of calorie restriction. ( 10 )

This weight loss usually occurs more quickly in people following a low-carb or keto diet than in those following a low-fat diet due to the loss of stored carbohydrates and water. ( 11 )

Over time, losing weight can cause your metabolism to slow down, which significantly slows the rate of weight loss. ( 12 )

See more: How to speed up metabolism

Your weight loss may even stop after months of calorie restriction. However, this decrease in metabolism is usually not significant enough to cause your weight loss to plateau. ( 13 )

Note that this weight loss plateau, where you lose little or no weight, usually occurs when you regularly eat more calories than you burn.

In other words, even though you think you’re eating fewer calories each day than you’re burning, you may actually be eating more.

Therefore, it may help to track your calories for at least 1 week to determine if your calorie intake is too high for your needs.

Learn more: How many calories per day

Remember that you will need to constantly adjust your calorie intake as you lose weight based on factors such as your age, gender and activity level.

If you find yourself in a calorie deficit, other factors, such as stress or lack of sleep, can increase hormones that can prevent weight loss and even promote weight gain. (14) (15)

How often should you weigh yourself?

Weighing is a good way to monitor your progress.

It can also reinforce the idea that factors like diet and exercise get you closer to your weight loss goal, while others like lack of sleep and excessive stress take you farther.

In fact, people who weigh themselves and practice other forms of self-monitoring, such as tracking their diet and exercise, seem to be more successful at losing weight and keeping it off long-term. (16) (17) (18) (19)

Despite daily weight fluctuations that can occur due to factors such as water retention, most research shows that daily weighing is more effective for weight loss and weight maintenance than weekly or monthly weighing. (20) (21) (22)

This may be because people who weigh themselves more often are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors, such as reading nutrition labels, eating whole grains, and drinking less soda and energy drinks. ( 23 )

If you find that weighing yourself daily or even weekly is leading to discouragement or obsessive behavior, it may be better to track your progress in other ways.

Remember that your weight is not always a reliable indicator of your health.

Conclusion

There can be several reasons for losing inches, but not weight.

You can gain muscle and lose fat at the same time by transforming your body or experiencing temporary water retention.

You may have hit a weight loss plateau, which means you may need to adjust your calories or better manage your stress and sleep schedule.

Weighing every day or several times a week is associated with increased weight loss and weight loss maintenance compared to weighing less often, but you shouldn’t rely on the scale alone to measure your health.