Do you notice that your clothes fit better after starting your diet, but the scale shows that you haven’t lost weight – or worse, you’ve gained weight?
Do you feel like you’ve lost weight but the scale stays the same? Or are you not losing inches but look smaller?
If so, there is no need to worry. Inches lost can be a good indication that you’re losing fat mass instead of water weight.
This article explains what could be happening if you’re losing inches, getting thinner but not losing weight on the keto diet (and other diets), and how to fix it.
Inch Loss vs Weight Loss
Weighing yourself on a scale is only one way to track your weight loss, and it’s not even the best method to use.
This is because your weight changes constantly – you could weigh more in the morning before a bowel movement and lose several pounds by the end of the day, depending on your bathroom schedule, how dehydrated you are, and what you ate that day.
On the other hand, you could weigh less in the morning and gain a pound or two by the end of the day just by drinking lots of water or eating foods with a high water content.
Women might notice that their weight fluctuates based on their monthly cycle, which occurs when things like water retention and hormone fluctuations cause weight scale changes.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve gained fat mass, which is why the scale isn’t the best way to track your weight loss.
Likewise, if you take creatine, you may notice a change in your weight as creatine draws water into your muscles, which may cause your scale reading to go up.
Additionally, if you’re lifting weights or doing body resistance training along with a keto diet, then your weight gain might simply be due to building muscle.
How Should I Track My Weight Loss Progress?
If you’re relying solely on the scale readings to track your weight loss process, then you could be sorely disappointed – and it may even discourage you from continuing on the keto diet.
Instead, we recommend using two or three methods different to track your weight loss, such as:
Measuring your inches lost is a great way to determine fat loss. Whereas the pounds on the scale can fluctuate depending on water intake, inches rarely fluctuate that much. There may be some instances in which your belly inches vary due to bloating and inflammation.
However, inches lost in your thighs, arms, and almost anywhere else in your body will not fluctuate with water intake. This is why you might notice that sometimes you’re not losing weight but clothes are looser.
Inches also tend to be a direct measure of fat loss, which may result as a change in your body composition. So while the pounds on the scale may go up and down, inches can be a reflection of a better body composition. This brings us to our next suggestion.
Body composition measurements
If you really want to know if you’re losing fat mass, then a body composition measurement can help. Your body composition measurement refers to your fat mass versus your non-fat mass.
Your fat mass is just that – the portion of your body that contains fat. Keep in mind that not all fat is bad. Every cell in your body needs fat, and fat is also needed to provide protection for your organs.
However, “bad” fat is known as white fat. This is the type of fat that accumulates in your middle section and other problem areas. Research shows that having higher levels of brown fat (your “good” fat) and less white fat can help improve your metabolism (*).
Your fat-free mass includes your bones, muscles, and organs. Knowing how much of your body contains “bad” fat and how much contains fat-free mass and “good” fat can help you with your weight loss journey.
Go by look or feel
Don’t discredit the way you look or feel on the keto diet, even if you aren’t losing pounds. These can be excellent indications that your health is improving.
It might help to take before and after pictures of yourself to help you see the changes in your body. Also, pay attention to how your clothes fit as this can also be an indication of changes in fat mass to lean muscle ratios.
Most people feel better in general after starting the keto diet because they have finally cut out inflammatory foods from their diet.
Here are some indications of good health that are more important than pounds on the scale:
- Healthier looking hair, skin, and nails
- Reducing sugar cravings
- Better energy levels throughout the day/less fatigue
- Improved sleep quality and duration at night
- Reduced brain fog/improved cognitive function
- Fewer mood swings/better mental health
- Lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels
Track your fitness
If you’re working out while on the keto diet, then track your fitness progress as this can be a good way to see positive changes in your body.
If you weren’t able to run a mile when you first started working out, but you can after several weeks of working out, then consider that a positive attribute.
Other positive fitness changes include becoming less fatigued during workouts, being able to lift heavier weights, and recovering quicker in between workout sessions. These are healthy changes to your body that may or may not be reflected on a scale.
Reasons Why You’re Losing Inches But Not Weight
Can you lose inches without losing pounds? The short answer is yes! It’s also possible to be gaining weight but losing inches at the same time too.
If you are getting thinner, but the scale isn’t moving, then it could be due to one of these reasons:
#1. Water retention
Have you ever watched a professional fighter try to make weight for a fight? Some of them put their body through intense sweating and dehydration techniques to drop the pounds quickly.
This can be deadly if done improperly and is certainly not recommended for anyone. However, it’s a good way to think about water weight in terms of pounds.
Water retention is one of the most common reasons why your scale weight isn’t moving as fast as you’d like it to. And this is perfectly fine!
Staying hydrated is crucial for good health. It’s also necessary for metabolic functions, such as digestion, appetite control, and metabolism. So, you definitely do not want to risk dehydration just to see a lower number on the scale.
Here are some possible reasons why you might be retaining water:
- You’re drinking proper amounts of water daily and staying hydrated (this is a good thing – don’t change it!)
- Medications – certain medications can cause water retention. You may want to check with your doctor if you think your medication is preventing you from losing weight.
- Menstrual cycle – a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle may cause her to retain water. Some women see weight fluctuations of as much as five or ten pounds during their cycle. While this isn’t favorable, the water weight will likely go away after your cycle ends.
- Certain supplements – creatine is an example of a supplement that causes you to retain water. Water retention in your muscles is a natural way of storing energy. So don’t worry about this too much, especially if your goal is to build strength and muscle mass.
- Problems with your thyroid – your thyroid and adrenal glands are responsible for secreting hormones that contribute to your weight. If you’ve tried everything and still cannot lose inches or weight, then talk to your doctor about hypothyroidism – especially if you have other symptoms, such as dry skin, digestive problems, and fatigue.
#2. Building muscle
If you’re working out and you notice that you’re losing inches but not pounds – this is a good thing! Losing fat but not weight means that your body composition is changing and you’re replacing “bad” white fat with lean muscle, which can weigh more.
This is another reason why it’s important to look at how you feel, your fitness level, and how your clothes fit when you take into account your weight loss journey. It might take a while for the scale to reflect the positive changes that your body is going through.
Additionally, weight-bearing exercise can strengthen your bone density, which might be one of the reasons why your weight has gone up after you started working out. You’re getting stronger!
Inflammation is the driving force behind many diseases and unwanted symptoms. It’s also responsible for things like gut health, food intolerances, and digestion – all of which may influence your scale weight based on your ability to eliminate food properly. Bloating might also be the reason why you’re losing weight but your waist is not shrinking.
Here’s how inflammation works. First, you ingest inflammation foods (such as gluten, refined carbs, and sugar), and it causes your immune system to send out white blood cells, which are needed to repair, protect, and restore the body’s homeostasis.
However, if you continue to eat inflammatory foods, it sends your immune system into overdrive. Your body can’t keep up with the demand of protecting against so much damage. Free radical toxins hijack healthy cells and accumulate in your tissues and organs, especially your digestive organs.
Your gut becomes inflamed and cannot properly assimilate food. You may start to experience common symptoms of GI inflammation, such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or constipation – all of which can add a few pounds to the scale.
Chronic inflammation can also lead to hormonal imbalances. It can affect blood sugar levels, cortisol (which leads to obesity), and leptin resistance, which occurs when your body no longer receives the message that it’s full, prompting you to eat more.
Here are some other common causes of chronic inflammation:
- Stress (psychological or physiological)
- Overexposure to pollutants in your environment
- Lack of sleep or proper exercise
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Undiagnosed conditions, such as an autoimmune disease or food allergy
- Certain medications
Luckily, the keto diet is great at reducing inflammation. If you stick with it long enough, you should start to notice the signs of lower body inflammation, such as reduced bloating, better digestion, no more brain fog, etc.
How To Drop Pounds AND Inches On Keto
The best thing to do if you’re not losing weight but losing inches on a low carb keto diet is to stick with it. Your progress may take longer than expected, and that’s OK. Changing your body composition is not a simple or quick process – don’t compare yourself to others.
Make sure you’re not making common mistakes on the keto diet. Consulting with a keto coach can help identify mistakes that are causing you to retain weight, such as eating the wrong foods or not properly adjusting your macros.
If you’ve been on the keto diet for a while and have plateaued with your weight loss journey, then you may want to try shaking things up a bit. Many people find success with intermittent fasting.
You can also try to carb up or down for a while – meaning that you adjust the amount of carbs you’re eating. Be sure to also adjust your fat intake so that you stay in ketosis.
If you’re not already exercising, then adding an exercise routine to your keto diet can certainly help you drop pounds and inches. Try to focus on resistance training as it builds lean muscle and this will ultimately help you burn more calories by speeding up your metabolism.
We understand that it can be frustrating when you don’t see the scale move much if you’re trying to lose weight. However, it’s important to know that weighing yourself isn’t always the best way to track your health or fat loss.
Your scale weight constantly fluctuates. Things like medication, diet, a woman’s menstrual cycle, hydration levels, and trips to the bathroom can all affect water retention and scale weight. Monitoring your body composition is a better way to track fat loss.
Try to focus less on your goal weight and more on other positive changes, such as clearer skin, better fitness, going down a size in your clothes, better mood and concentration levels, etc.
If you’ve been on the keto diet for a while and have plateaued in your weight loss journey, then try switching things up – resistance training, carb up or down, or intermittent fasting can all help if you really want to see the scale number move.
*Photo by depositphotos/Milkos+flisakd and Pixabay