Lately, in our members group and during client check-ins, I’ve been talking a lot about realistic progress when it comes to weight/fat loss.
When we talk to about weight loss, the aim with our clients is to lose bodyfat and not muscle mass. However, a lot of clients use the two words interchangeably which is fine with me, as I know what it is that they mean. But just to be clear, it is fat that you want to lose and not necessarily scale weight.
For example, it’s not uncommon to see a client build 1.5 kg of lean muscle mass, lose 3kg of bodyfat and therefore only see a difference of 1.5 kg on the scale. If they focused on just these numbers then they have lost 1.5kg of ‘scale weight’. But checking their measurements and body fat (if applicable) would tell a completely different story with regard to their progress.
One of the biggest fat loss mistakes people make is this focus on dropping the number of the scale. It creates the mindset that if my weight isn’t dropping then I’m not progressing, and this simply isn’t true because quality weight/fat loss can be measured several ways.
So when we are working with a client whose main goal is fat los, this is what we look for during their check-ins. These guidelines aren’t set in stone as every person is different but they are a great place to start.
Scale weight down 0.5-1kg/1-2lb on average per week
The age old, boring advice of not losing weight too quickly and it’s exactly what we aim for wth our clients. More often than not we see bigger drops with heavier clients who are carrying a higher body fat %. This is great for motivation in the earlier stages but initial progress will slow down and it’s what we want to see as coaches. Bigger weight drops are not all coming from fat stores and they are not sustainable longterm without continuing to massively slash calories- and this never ends well.
Also, smaller, no weight drops or slight increases in weight in leaner individuals who are chasing higher levels fat loss goals are often seen and even desired to maintain healthy progress.
We also want to avoid weight drops without seeing improvements in measurements and/or body fat levels. Having weight drop off and body fat levels go up as the body feeds on it’s own tissues to compensate for drastically low calorie intake is one of the worst, but most common, outcomes for people focusing solely on the scales.
We want to see sustainable weight loss alongside improvements in measurements and body fat levels. Or else see the weight stay the same (or even increase slightly) while measurements and body fat % decreases at a healthy pace (generally more common in leaner individuals who don’t have as much fat to lose.)
Take home point is fast weight loss beyond the initial phases of training and introduction of healthier eating habits are not sustainable, healthy or desired.
Bodyfat down an average of 0.5-1% per week(ish)
What we aim for, and consistently see with clients, are drops in body fat % between 0.5 and 1% and anywhere inn between. A client can drop 1% in 10 days, drop 0.5% the week after and 0.75% over the following 10 days.
Again, this number may be higher for clients carrying more body fat during the earlier stages of healthy eating and training, and it’s going to be less for leaner clients as they hit the lower body fat levels. But if we can get clients to hit these levels fairly consistently, then we know a client is well on their way to achieving their goals inna sustainable manner.
Measurements down, with or without a drop in scale weight
This applies especially to heavier clients when measuring their body fat with a callipers (which is our preferred method), isn’t always possible because because they are simply carrying too much weight. While most of our heavier clients do see initial weight loss on the scales, this isn’t true for all of them.
Recently we had a client who really got stuck into his nutrition and training, dropped some weight during the first few weeks and was feeling great. But the following week his weight didn’t drop but he had dropped an inch and a half off his abdomen and was feeling better than the week before.
Considering he was eating so much better and exercising consistently, this is a great result and that came from a combination of body fat, water weight and general bloating. He is also down 2 notches in his belt and consistently seeing improvements in his measurements even though his weight isn’t consistently dropping.
For our heavier clients, this is a good results and will transfer over to a healthier weight (and body fat %) over time.
Fat loss isn’t a straight line journey for anyone. The usual path is forward 3 steps, back 1 or maybe even a ‘perceived’ stall.
Every client is different and of course the above are just guidelines that we look for as coaches to see whether or not we are on the right track. But these guidelines serve us and our clients well so I know they will serve you well also.
Outside of the initial few weeks of training, rapid fast loss is an absolutely terrible approach for most people and should be avoided at all costs. It can seem like the best thing in the world but it always comes crashing down. Opt instead for gradual, sustainable progress if you’re serious about longterm results and quality of life.
If you have any question about this topic then please post them below