T Nation

Losing BF vs Lbs?


I have read a million times that a safe and heathy rate of weight loss is 1-2lbs per week. However, it seems to me that rule might not apply when one is hitting the weights and clearly adding muscle. Is there a rule of thumb relative to the rate one loses body fat?

I apologize if this is a repeat of previous posts, but I searched the site and didn't find anything specifically about this.

THANKS!! (Did I mention this site is awesome? No? Well it is head and shoulders above any other site I have encountered. People are dedicated, smart, funny, helpful, etc. You all rock!)


Well you have cited the rule of thumb, haven?t you?

From then on it depends.

Visceral vs subcutaneous body fat, how much body fat, etc.

If you think you are gaining muscle while losing more than 1-2 lbs of fat each week continue whatever you are doing but it should be more than just a wild guess.

What are you doing to measure progress or the lack of it?


One or two pounds a week is a decent rule of thumb for someone who has some excess BF but isn't "fat," but you're right, that goes out the window in certain situations. Someone who has never exercised or dieted and is very overweight could lose a good bit more than that a week at the beginning of a diet and exercise program. Someone who has never really lifted weights seriously but who starts a proper diet and a good lifting program may actually gain bodyweight while losing fat by building muscle at the same time. This won't last forever, of course. There's only so much muscle you can gain while on a restrictive diet.

Long story short, the 1-2 lb rule of thumb is good to keep in mind, but while dieting, don't rely solely on the scale to measure your progress. Get yourself a tape measure, some calipers if you can, and take some before and after pictures.


Knowing my Tanita scale isn't the most accurate way of measuring BF, I am hoping to use it as a relative measure to gauge my progress. Since BF is typically delineated as a percentage value, that would be the measure I'd be interested in (e.g. It is safe to lose 1-2% BF/week, month, etc.). THANKS AGAIN!!


Tanita scales suck and are not made for weight trainers. They are also not very consistent. I think the only people they do work for are those who don't lift weights and aren't carrying much lean body mass. If you fit one of those categories, perhaps it will work for you.


You're both right on, of course. I have been loathe to take photos, but I need to take the plunge. According to my scale I am 213lbs. and 32%bf. I would bet my bf is a little lower than that, but until I get calipers that is the value I have with which to work. Over the course of the past 7 weeks I have lost 14lbs and around 2 or 3%bf per the scale. I gave up cola and crappy food.

I am eating fairly clean, I think. 1700-2000 calories: 5-6 meals per day, protein-heavy, post-workout nutrition supps, at least 1 gallon of H2O per day. Lifting (mostly compound)3-4 x per week, Tabata thrusters once per month, walking 2-3 x per week. I am making progess and feel good about it. I think I will up the Tabatas to 2 x per month.


Would you suggest I buy calipers or go to a hydrostatic weighing facility, etc.? THANKS.


How big is your waist?


If you are truly overweight, go with calipers and get someone else to take the reading. This should be fairly easy at a gym without having to buy personal training unless you are susceptible to this. I am still interested in your waist measurement and height, however.


I got myself a set of FatTrack II digital calipers (made by Accumeasure or something like that).. I think they do a decent job. If you try to get skinfold readings done by someone else, make sure you trust them and their abilities.

I had a "professional" personal trainer tell me I had well over 20% bodyfat the other day after taking readings using calipers that looked like they came straight from a cereal box. I knew this was way off, as I'm leaner than I've ever been and have a solid four out of six as far as six-pack goes. The water method is probably the most accurate, but good luck finding a place that will do it for a reasonable price.



I am a little taller than 5'8". My waist, as measured at my navel is 39". I weigh, as of this AM, 213lbs. The more I look at this, the more I think my tanita bf scale is way off. If you look at me you wouldn't say "he is obese," but technically I am.


I post my weight, waist, etc. and the server crashes. Coincidence? I think not.


1-2 lbs is GREAT!!! Only sway from that when Very over fat. Or you dont mind the sacrifice of hard earned LBM.

Its a LONG journey not a quick fix.


I wouldn't worry to much about body fat percentage. You've just started. You're making great progress. Enjoy it.

Eat right, lift heavy.

And we'll get back to this in half a year or something.


I agree with this. I thought he was going to post that his waist was 52". I see little use for knowing your "number" if you aren't obese or simply very anal about comparing what is lost (as if the mirror and strength levels aren't enough).


Thanks for the encouragement!

BTW: I am 39yo. I was never "fit" but I wasn't in bad shape. I played organized sports as a youth, but not beyond Jr HS. In my early twenties I joined a Bally's-like gym, made some progess: fairly lean, weighing around 170lbs. I forget why, but I stopped going to the gym, 'er club.

It was all downhill from there. I peaked at 227lbs and started having health problems. Not necesarily fat-related, but it sure wasn't helping. So, I joined a local gym. I knew I needed help developing a plan, but didn't want to hire one of the trainers ($$$). I started searching the web and lucked into finding T-Nation. I have been hooked since.

I can truly see a difference (man boobs shrinking) and I feel a lot better too. Still a long way to go, but I am in this for the long haul.