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Weight vs body fat % for progress indicator?

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Old 02-21-2006, 06:49 PM   #1
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Default Weight vs body fat % for progress indicator?

Well, it has been just about a month now since I have re-started watching my calories super closely and exercising 5x a week. The result? *Maybe* a two pound loss. My signature shows about 5lbs but the start weight was an unusually high TOM weight, I really started at 193ish.

BUT I also check the body fat % reading on my scale (unreliable I know) not for an accurate reading but more to get an idea of the trend. The scale has me down about 3% this month...Yippee!

I also check my measurements and got no change in anything for the month and I take pictures once a week. I can see a change in the pictures but it's entirely possible that I was unknowingly doing something to make myself seem smaller when I wasn't actually smaller, sucking my stomach in or something

So, of the four, (scale, body fat %, pictures, or measurements) which do you think I should use to measure my progress? As far as I can tell, none of them are incredibly accurate. But I need to know if I should switch things up because right now, I can't even be sure I'm losing anything at all.
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Old 02-21-2006, 06:57 PM   #2
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I would personally use a combination of it all. As long as you are exercising and building muscle, you may not see the scale budge much, but you may tone up and lose inches.
I like to use body fat percentages, but only when it can be accurately done with a pair of fat calipers using an average of different areas of the body tested. Say you weigh 200lbs, lose only 20 lbs (by the scale), but have actually lost 30 lbs of fat and gained 10lbs of muscle... you would only know that by using body fat percentages.
I would use a combination; that can help when one method doesn't seem to be "working", another can show a change.
Good luck to you.
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Old 02-21-2006, 07:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckettgirl
I would personally use a combination of it all. As long as you are exercising and building muscle, you may not see the scale budge much, but you may tone up and lose inches.
I like to use body fat percentages, but only when it can be accurately done with a pair of fat calipers using an average of different areas of the body tested. Say you weigh 200lbs, lose only 20 lbs (by the scale), but have actually lost 30 lbs of fat and gained 10lbs of muscle... you would only know that by using body fat percentages.
I would use a combination; that can help when one method doesn't seem to be "working", another can show a change.
Good luck to you.

thanks. I have been wondering about this as well....
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Old 02-21-2006, 07:25 PM   #4
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I tend to go by measurements & body fat percentage, mostly. Weight too. As was said, all three will give you a good overview. If you've got something going on that makes weight loss less likely--like you're really getting into an activity that builds muscle--then it's better to rely more upon measurements & body fat percentage.

And now I'll do my other little sermon: Keep in mind that for a woman in her twenties (not that I've a clue how old you are), a healthy body fat percentage is from about 21% to 32%. Many, if not most, of the women you see in diet advertisements are below that. (My favorite, still, is the Body-for-LIFE for Women book, where I got the figure I shared, that has a section of "success stories" featuring nothing but women who went from a healthy BF% to a too-low one.)
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Old 02-21-2006, 10:21 PM   #5
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32%!?!?!?!?! Seriously? Wow.. I had always been told no more than 18-22%
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Old 02-21-2006, 11:13 PM   #6
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I would go with body fat percentages. But I wouldn't trust the body fat percentage scales. They lie. Buy some body fat calipers or use one of the online programs that ask for your age, weight, height, wrist measurement and a few other measurements. Wrist because that tells whether you have large or small bones or medium.

When working out a lot you won't see weight changes very rapidly. Why? Because you are using those muscles and working muscle needs a lot of water. It hangs onto it. So while you are "building muscle" it isn't so much the muscle that weighs more (it takes time for that) it is the water that is retained within your muscles.

When I did Body for Life, I didn't notice any real changes for about 6 weeks. which is about what John Hussman's site indicated I should expect. He explained it really well when he said that you have fat within your muscle and that fat burns first. Then the subcutaneous fat. So first your muscles become lean and hard, then the fat just under the skin will start to go. You aren't going to see much of a difference just from your muscles becoming like hard stringy meat (rather than tender corn fed beef!).

Still with a pinch test, you may find that you are leaner or with a tape measure.
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Old 02-21-2006, 11:43 PM   #7
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I take any sign that I'm moving in the right direction as a success. lol Lower body fat percentage, lost inches, pounds lost, looser clothes, feeling better and having more energy, the simple satisfaction of knowing I'm doing something about my health It's all good!

While it is true that the body fat percentage scales do not reflect your true fat percentage, it can still be a good indicator of the overall trend.
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Old 02-22-2006, 12:03 AM   #8
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I always hear that the water-tank test is the best way to measure body fat/volume. Does anyone know where you get one of those tests?

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Old 02-22-2006, 01:53 AM   #9
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I use a combination too. I get my body fat done at the gym every 8 weeks, and I have measurements taken then too. I don't use formal pictures, but I do have plenty of progress shots. To be honest, without the combined approach I would have thrown in the towel by now. I have gone through some killer plateaus, which haven't been plateaus at all, as my body fat has continued to scoot down.

As to the ideal ratios of body fat, the absolute minimum a woman should go to is 15%, and the usual ideal upper range is around the 31% mark.

Body composition is an amazing thing!!!
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