T Nation

Stupid Scales

OK what do you do when your scales say your weight has gone down and your Body Fat % has gone up but you’re lifting 3-4 times a week and eating 800/900 calories a day? Throw the scales in the bin perhaps?

I’m just really confused now.

(goal is weight loss/BF% reduction, program arnolds body building for men book, Series 1 & 2, 4/5 wk’s in)

Are you sposed to be eating only 800/900 calories a day? Cause that seems way low.

[quote]Niranu wrote:
OK what do you do when your scales say you weight has gone down and your Body Fat % has gone up but you’re lifting 3-4 times a week and eating 800/900 calories a day? [/quote]

Eat more. Seriously, if you’re lifting 3-4 times a week and only eating 900 cals, your body doesn’t have the energy to rebuild the muscle tissue you strain while lifting. Hell, it doesn’t have energy at all. You’ve probably slowed your metabolism down to a crawl, and on top of that, your body has most likely gone into a catabolic state (breaking down muscle and fat to use as fuel), since you aren’t taking in enough nutrients from eating.

Try eating your weight in pounds x 15 calories for a few weeks, and see how it goes. You might not lose scale weight, but I’ll bet if you keep lifting, you’ll gain muscle without gaining much weight. Once you’ve got your metabolism back up to speed, cut 250 cals from your intake. Hold there for 2 weeks, and if you haven’t lost weight, cut another 250 cals. Repeat as needed, but you really shouldn’t go below weight X 10 cals.

If you want to gain weight, after getting your diet in order (I’m hoping the 800/900Cals is EXTRA). Weigh yourself once per week at the most, don’t fret over slight weekly variations, continue for a month or two and you will see a trend. If you’re skinny use the mirror to judge fat. If you’re fat use the mirror + common sense.

[quote]Boffin wrote:
If you want to gain weight, after getting your diet in order (I’m hoping the 800/900Cals is EXTRA). Weigh yourself once per week at the most, don’t fret over slight weekly variations, continue for a month or two and you will see a trend. If you’re skinny use the mirror to judge fat. If you’re fat use the mirror + common sense.[/quote]

First - I’m trying to loose weight.

I’m 5’1’’ endo-mesemorphic girl with a supposedly 1335cal RM. I use thedailyplate.com to track all my food/cal intake every day and to calculate my caloric intake for a loss of 2 lbs per week. Iusually eat over a little (say 1100) then exercise it back down to 800/900.

I don’t get weak/fatigued, I don’t binge and I don’t have a problem with my work out, I’m happy eating this much so i don’t think the diet is a problem - I’ve lost 16 lbs in 10 weeks which is a health steady progress and have another 36 to go until goal - at which point I’ll consider building size and definition training.

I know 800/900 sounds deathly low to all the giants out there but for me it’s what I need to do to loose weight adn I’m ok with it.

It’s just the weird bf% up - total weight down thing with ‘hopefully’ no muscle loss. Are my scales just a pile of shit or is there something going on I don’t know about I wonder?

ninjaboy - thanks for the advice on catabolic states - i’ve noticed definate strength and firmness gains since I started lifting though; could a catabolic state still apply?

How are you measuring body fat? If you’re using a scale, then ignore the number. They are quite inaccurate.

Get a caliper test done. Even if it’s only 3 points, you can still measure progress. And it will be a lot more accurate than a scale.

Happy lifting!

[quote]darwin420 wrote:
How are you measuring body fat? If you’re using a scale, then ignore the number. They are quite inaccurate.

Get a caliper test done. Even if it’s only 3 points, you can still measure progress. And it will be a lot more accurate than a scale.

Happy lifting![/quote]

Thanks! I was internally going with ‘scales are shit’ but was curious if there was some major obvious thing I was missing. Where could I get a caliper test? - isn’t that a little non-scientific, not allowing for water retention and unique body shape etc. Guess I need to read up on how it works.

[quote]Niranu wrote:
ninjaboy - thanks for the advice on catabolic states - i’ve noticed definate strength and firmness gains since I started lifting though; could a catabolic state still apply?[/quote]

Probably not, but it’s something to keep an eye out for, and you’re metabolism has definately slowed down some by now. When I did the V-Diet(1800 cals a day), by the end of it I felt fine, but my metabolism was definately starting to get sluggish at the end of the 4 weeks. If you’ve been dieting for 10 weeks, you’re probably coming up on a point were you should take two weeks and eat at maintainance, to keep your metabolism from slowing down to much. Keep in mind that even if you have a resting metabolism of 1300, with your activity level you’re probably burning around 2200 cals a day, give or take. If you can get your metabolism up, you’d be suprised how much you can eat and still lose weight.

As far as calipers, yes, they are less accurate then an immersion test of a DEXA scan, but they are much more accurate then scale body fat measurements, which can be thrown off by just about anything.

Cheers guys,

Inevitably the end result is always in the mirror I agree, so I guess swaping my inaccurate electronic bathroom scale read-out for the inaccurate caliper guestimate comes down to which one I already paid my dosh for.

I’m reassured enough not to sweat the numbers on the scales now though so thanks again.

I should consider doing something to look after my metabolism you’re right. But it’s really scary to start eating more calories when you’ve only just found a sucessful way of getting rid of the fat. Clearly I’m not going to waste away like some anorexic leaf as my long-long term goal is ‘Mandy’ from Figure Cometitors and not Kate Moss but my short-longterm goal is getting to 115 lbs ish but I don’t want to jepoardize or even threaten my progress in any way.

You’re right. It’s the scale. If you’re talking about one of those bio-impedance models you must be very careful to measure yourself under EXACTLY the same conditions every day. First thing in the morning is best. Another option is to weigh yourself several times/day and use a running average.

Bottom line: Use the mirror and the fit of your clothes to judge your BF%. Those scales are notoriously inaccurate and are only good for tracking small changes. They are affected by the water and salt content in your body so they don’t do a good job at absolute measurements or tracking large BF% changes.

How you feel in your clothes and look in the mirror is far more important than the number on some electronic toy.

BTW, congratulations! It sound like your diet is a success so far. Keep up the good work!

[quote]Niranu wrote:
darwin420 wrote:
How are you measuring body fat? If you’re using a scale, then ignore the number. They are quite inaccurate.

Get a caliper test done. Even if it’s only 3 points, you can still measure progress. And it will be a lot more accurate than a scale.

Happy lifting!

Thanks! I was internally going with ‘scales are shit’ but was curious if there was some major obvious thing I was missing. Where could I get a caliper test? - isn’t that a little non-scientific, not allowing for water retention and unique body shape etc. Guess I need to read up on how it works.[/quote]

Ultimately, the best way to judge progress is with a mirror. But, if you want to track measurable goals, weigh yourself every 2-4 weeks, and get your BF tested once a month. Always do the weigh-in and BF testing at the same time of day and week, to maintain the highest consistency.

While it may not be wholly accurate, you’ll be able to see a trend, which is especially helpful if, like me, you momentarily stop seeing visible changes in the mirror. It’s also a good way to gauge if a program is working - if you weigh the same, but BF goes down, you’re doing well. If you weigh less/more and BF rises, you’re going in the wrong direction.

[quote]darwin420 wrote:
Niranu wrote:
darwin420 wrote:
How are you measuring body fat? If you’re using a scale, then ignore the number. They are quite inaccurate.

Get a caliper test done. Even if it’s only 3 points, you can still measure progress. And it will be a lot more accurate than a scale.

Happy lifting!

Thanks! I was internally going with ‘scales are shit’ but was curious if there was some major obvious thing I was missing. Where could I get a caliper test? - isn’t that a little non-scientific, not allowing for water retention and unique body shape etc. Guess I need to read up on how it works.

Ultimately, the best way to judge progress is with a mirror. But, if you want to track measurable goals, weigh yourself every 2-4 weeks, and get your BF tested once a month. Always do the weigh-in and BF testing at the same time of day and week, to maintain the highest consistency.

While it may not be wholly accurate, you’ll be able to see a trend, which is especially helpful if, like me, you momentarily stop seeing visible changes in the mirror. It’s also a good way to gauge if a program is working - if you weigh the same, but BF goes down, you’re doing well. If you weigh less/more and BF rises, you’re going in the wrong direction.[/quote]

Sorry, I’m an idiot not to mention that my BF% started at 48.9% - 167 lbs (oh my god that’s almost half my body, help I can’t breath! lol) and is down to 46.2% - 151 lbs(today) which is up from last weeks 45.4% - 153 lbs. So overall it’s down - guess I’m just being pyschotic/neurotic about the whole thing.

Calories still seem awful low to me, worryingly low.
Don’t forget the % “fat” is influenced by all kinds of factors (hydration for one).

I think you might benefit from doing some searches. Have a look at Tampa Terrys posts (use the search function) heres an example:
http://www.T-Nation.com/tmagnum/readTopic.do?id=1517690

I dont think Tampa is around at the moment but you could try PMing her? But definitely invest some time in reading her posts, she knows what she’s talking about, and she’s lovely too.

[quote]Boffin wrote:
Calories still seem awful low to me, worryingly low.
Don’t forget the % “fat” is influenced by all kinds of factors (hydration for one).

I think you might benefit from doing some searches. Have a look at Tampa Terrys posts (use the search function) heres an example:
http://www.T-Nation.com/tmagnum/readTopic.do?id=1517690

I dont think Tampa is around at the moment but you could try PMing her? But definitely invest some time in reading her posts, she knows what she’s talking about, and she’s lovely too.
[/quote]

Thanks Boffin, it’s really hard being a short girl. Thanks I’ll look into it :0

[quote]Niranu wrote:
I should consider doing something to look after my metabolism you’re right. But it’s really scary to start eating more calories when you’ve only just found a sucessful way of getting rid of the fat. Clearly I’m not going to waste away like some anorexic leaf as my long-long term goal is ‘Mandy’ from Figure Cometitors and not Kate Moss but my short-longterm goal is getting to 115 lbs ish but I don’t want to jepoardize or even threaten my progress in any way.[/quote]

Just remember that fat lose is a long term goal if you’ve got a lot to lose, and you can jeopardize your progress be eating to little as easily as you can be eating to much.

Wow, your calorie intake is incredibly low (that is not a compliment). If you are eating the right portions of the right foods spaced out at the right intervals you could (and should) take in way way more than that. Your RMR is intended to be something to help you live and breathe (in an armchair), it accounts for NO activity.

The person who said it was possible that your body could be in a catabolic state, eating your muscles, is spot on imo. At 1100 calories and 151 lbs your body is in hyper-starvation mode. When this happens it goes straight after your muscles. So, as ineffective as the scales are, it may be right when it says weight down, BF up.

I would like to report that I am 149 lbs today woohoo (that’s 18lbs in 10 weeks, right on target) and the BF is at 45.8% - I’m still 5’1’’ though, oh…

RMorrison - it’s working so I’m sticking with it for now. I see what you mean about the catabolic state (I do spend all day in my office chair then crawl to the sofa later if i’m not lifting though). I’ll up my calories, as you say, when I go into starvation mode and plateau on the weight loss. Cheers for the advice.

BTW you can check out my entire diet here http://www.thedailyplate.com/diary/who/niranu

If I could make one suggestion, that 50 grams of carbs out of your diet and replace them with 50 grams of protein. The increased protein will help you retain muscle mass, and a controlled carb diet has worked very well for many people.

[quote]ninjaboy wrote:
If I could make one suggestion, that 50 grams of carbs out of your diet and replace them with 50 grams of protein. The increased protein will help you retain muscle mass, and a controlled carb diet has worked very well for many people. [/quote]

Protein is so my favorite food group, beef jerky, salmon, chicken, cheese, eggs… that should put me on around 100g of protein a day - does that sound about right?

My carb intake is kind of sporadic but I think it averages at about 80-100g a day, I’d be cutting it in half - 50g of carbs a doesn’t sound much but I’ll definately give it a go.

Yeah, 100g a day of protein at minimum. Really, it wouldn’t hurt at all to get 150g. As for carbs, try having 50g a day on none lifting days, and an extra 50g right after lifting with some protein. If you have around 50g of fat a day, that puts your diet at 1200 cals a day on non-lifting days and 1400 on lifting days. See how it works. Like I said, many people, myself included, have done well with lower carb diets, but some people just can’t function on them. give it a day or two and then decide how you’re feeling. Let me know if you have any questions.