What should we measure when we’re looking for fat loss and muscle gain?
Starting with fat loss; my blogs earlier this week have talked about bodyweight and body fat percentages if you haven’t read them yet then I would suggest you go back and read them first.
I also have a detailed blog on the ultimate way to measure your progress so please do check that out as well.
I always recommend that people at least take the measurement around their waist and the measurement around the hip. In order to get a waist to hip ratio, this is waist measurement divided by hip measurement.
The reason is because you are more likely to see changes in your measurements than you are within your bodyweight, which can fluctuate as we have already covered.
Your measurements can at least ‘cover your back’ and show you that you are making real progress.
There will of course be times when your waist or hip measurements do not go down but that could well be because you are losing fat from elsewhere.
To be really thorough you could measure your stomach, your chest, around your arms, around your thighs and around your neck, just to get plenty of markers for seeing change.
Taking these measurements can be a really useful thing to do because your body weight could be stalled due to water retention caused by stress.
If you are highly stressed for whatever reason or you get a lack of sleep, you might get a rise in the stress hormone cortisol, which can cause a massive amount of water retention and oedema, which can affect the scale weight, despite the fact that you are losing body fat.
Using measurements therefore, is a great way to see your change downwards and maintain motivation.
The reason I mentioned the waist to hip ratio is because it is associated with better health markers to have your waist to hip ratio within a certain area.
Waist to hip ratio is important because it can be an indicator of health and the risk of developing certain health conditions.
The World Health Organisation has cut off points, and cites an increased risk of metabolic complications if your waist circumference is higher than 94cms as a man or 80cms for a woman.
If your waist to hip ratio is greater than 0.9 for men, or greater than point 0.85 for women, your risk of metabolic complications is significantly increased.
I know that people can be big boned and people can have wider body frames, while still having lower body fat levels. There is a thing called metabolically healthy, bigger people can still eat very healthily and be very active.
This is just something to be aware of that having a waist to hip ratio that is lower, is a good thing from a health perspective as well.
When using measurements for muscle gain, we are thinking more around using your limbs and your main muscle areas such as around your chest and your back, for muscles like your pecs and your lats.
Other useful areas would be around your thighs, around your calves, your biceps and triceps. All these areas are going to show you whether your muscle gain programme is working.
Remember that it will take time to see these results, but it’s useful to check, along with skinfold, every four to eight weeks to see how your body fat is looking in relation to your measurements.
That way, in combination with your training programme, which we’ll cover tomorrow, you will see how your muscle gain is helping. There is always a DEXA scan, that we covered yesterday to help as well.
In terms of when to use measurements, I would say somewhere between weekly to bi weekly for weight loss, so that you can see a decent amount of change.
Remember to take all the data into account before you make any adjustments with your fat loss plan.