Why am I looker thinner but getting heavier?
August 7, 2010 4:46 AM   Subscribe

Why am I looking thinner but getting heavier?

Over the past couple of months I've been working on getting much healthier and losing weight. On average I've been swimming roughly 1.5km (about 1 mile) every day, and running 6km 3 to 4 times a week. I've been doing some weight training, involving working with dumbbells and doing pushups/sit-ups every day. I've had a very healthy diet, with plenty of fresh fruit and small portions of low fat meals. I've never felt better or healthier in my life, and I think I can see noticeable fat loss in my body. I've met people who I haven't seen in a long time who've mentioned I look very different. However, according to the scales I've become heavier than when I started. To begin with I was about 140 pounds. But now I'm hovering around 146 pounds. Am I doing something wrong? If I look slimmer why aren't I getter lighter?

Just to note I'm a 5 foot 6 inch male, but with a fairly broad and heavy build.
posted by Spamfactor to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Density. Muscle weighs more than fat.
posted by asockpuppet at 4:51 AM on August 7, 2010 [4 favorites]

Muscle weighs more than fat. You look slimmer because you are. You look slimmer because you've lost fat and replaced it with lean muscle mass. You're becoming a lean, mean, fighting machine.
posted by iconomy at 4:52 AM on August 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

The same thing happens to me when I increase the intensity of whatever lifting and cardio regime I am following. Two things happen: a) people notice that I stand up straighter and seem thinner, b) I gain muscle mass and therefore weigh more than I did before.

If you FEEL and look healthy, who cares if that means 146 or 156?
posted by vkxmai at 4:59 AM on August 7, 2010 [4 favorites]

Same here, happened when I started taking a lot of dance classes, I'd been a bit pudgy so always heard 'loose weight' but I was clearly looking much better but the scale kept going up. Quite confusing, but keep the routine and don't worry.
posted by sammyo at 5:22 AM on August 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

As above. You might consider tracking the way your body changes through a scale with a body fat % monitor... while the consumer ones might not be the most accurate, you'll at least be able to track how the number is trending up or down.
posted by modernnomad at 5:25 AM on August 7, 2010

Yup. You're losing fat and gaining lean muscle. Keep working out. It is your density.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:27 AM on August 7, 2010 [20 favorites]

Same here. I'm a woman but weight training has made my size drop much faster than the scale - which either moves at a much slower rate or even goes up from time to time.
posted by pointystick at 6:42 AM on August 7, 2010

As you've learned, a scale isn't always the best way to measure your progress. Use your eyes, and your tape measure, and your clothing sizes.
posted by iconomy at 6:43 AM on August 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

It's worth pointing out that your weight before AND after this lifestyle change is well under overweight (yes BMI is a flawed statistic but as a ballpark) you weren't overweight before and you aren't now. The scale is a really flawed measure of anything, if you REALLY want to dig into your physiology find someplace that can do a proper measurement of body fat percentage. Or just consider feeling better and looking slimmer to yourself and everyone else as a reasonable measure.

is it possible for both your size and your weight to go up due to muscle when you are getting stronger

Sure, but it means you're not losing any fat or enough fat. If you are replacing fat mass with muscle mass you will get more slender, period, because muscle is denser than fat. However you could be building muscle mass, neither gaining nor losing fat mass, and consequently be both heavier and physically larger. You are always going to lose size if you are actually losing fat weight in proportion to the muscle you are gaining, though.
posted by nanojath at 8:29 AM on August 7, 2010

This is why I pretty much always recommend people take measurements when they're trying to lose weight - especially if they're exercising and lifting weights as well as eating better. The scale doesn't always tell the full story.
posted by backwards guitar at 9:19 AM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Get something like this. Not as accurate as doctor's office and some gyms have, but it will make you feel better. (or, if your me, not. I'm lossing weight but not fat ratio. :(
posted by Some1 at 10:22 AM on August 7, 2010

Weight is a very narrow measurement; if you're stoked about your new muscle, you feel good, people tell you look good, then who cares what you weigh. Cleary what you're doing is working, just don't stop!
posted by JimmyJames at 12:19 PM on August 7, 2010

When I started exercising, I found that measuring my waist size gave me an alternative indicator of what was going on with my body. The scales didn't move much, but the measuring tape told all.
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 12:28 PM on August 7, 2010

Am I doing something wrong? If I look slimmer why aren't I getter lighter?

If you're goal is to lose weight than you are doing something wrong. Or is your goal to lose bodyfat? Because it sounds like you are doing everything right.
The scale is just a simple metric and is handy to use if your goals are simply to 'lose weight' or 'gain weight', but beyond that the scale isn't as specific as other metrics out there.
I've seen people suggest to not use a scale, but that seems kind of stupid to me. You should use the most handy and appropiate metric you can find. If you're goals are the run of the mill 'get in better shape, lose bodyfat, and get a bit of muscle'; than the mirror, some measuring tape, and a scale should be just fine. If your goals are more specific, than get some real testing done. Bodyfat testing just isn't as useful as some people make it out to be. Calipers can be notoriously useless, depending on the skill of the person and if you're bodyfat is upwards of 20% it becomes a lot less reliable.
The thing is all of these metrics are just that, a measuring device. Nobody else cares how fast you can swim or run, or how much weight you can lift or how much bodyfat you have. Nobody. It's just a metric for you to use.
The mirror is just fine, IF you can strip away your subjectivity. But if you really want to try to objectively capture what you look like, take a full body nude picture of yourself. Front and side. It's a whooooole lot different than glancing at yourself in the mirror every once in a while.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:54 PM on August 7, 2010

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