Weight Loss

Losing inches but not weight : Here’s everything you need to know!

Losing inches but not weight: Here’s everything you need to know if you are losing inches not weight!

Loosing inches but not weight
You may be doing everything right: Eating clean, sleeping properly, feeling good and even fitting in your old clothes but still the weighing scale shows the same number. Why are you not losing weight? This situation bothers many of us who are on the weight loss journey. You may see that you are losing inches but not weight. Should you celebrate? Should you be worried? Let us see!

Why am I losing inches but not weight?

There may be several reasons as to why you are losing inches (and not weight). Let us see what these might be and how you can face them.

You may be building muscles!

Loosing inches but not weight
Imagine weighing a pot full of water and a pot half-filled with stones. The weight of both pots may be the same but their contents are different. As your weighing scale cannot differentiate between water and stones, similarly it cannot differentiate between body fat and muscle mass. If you have been eating right and doing weight training regularly, there is a high possibility that your body is undergoing what we call as recomposition. This simply means that the amount of fat in your body is decreasing while your muscles are getting denser. In this case, you need to analyze your body composition and not just your weight and it means that you are on your way to progress! You don’t need to be disappointed. 

You may be experiencing a weight loss plateau

Another reason why you may be losing inches and not weight is that you may have hit a plateau in your weight loss journey. Weight loss plateau happens when you are on a calorie-restrictive diet that has helped you lose weight in the beginning but after a certain period of time, it shows no difference in your weight. Plateau happens when one is on a calorie deficient diet for a sufficiently long period of time. The body gets adapted to the deficient calories and metabolism slows down, thus decreasing the rate at which you lose weight. Remember, weight loss plateaus are important for sustainable weight loss. Your weight loss journey is not going to be linear but as long as you are maintaining your healthy eating habits, you do not need to worry. You can break the plateau by going on a diet break or adjusting your calories as per your requirement.

You may be retaining water

Your weight fluctuations may also be due to the changes in your bodily fluids. As seen earlier, your weighing scale cannot differentiate between muscle mass and fat. Similarly, it cannot differentiate between fat and water. So, as the amount of water in your body rises, so does your weight. Water retention may happen due to several reasons like stress, medications, menstruation, sodium consumption etc. Now, these reasons are temporary and they will go away on their own.


Is inch loss better than weight loss?

Loosing inches but not weight
For this, let us first understand what inch loss is. Inch loss means losing inches or a decrease in the circumference of different fat-storing parts of your body like the hips, the waist, the arms, the thighs etc.

Inch loss is important if you have a very high waist circumference which means that you have large amounts of fat deposits around your waist. This fat deposition makes a person more prone to lifestyle disorders like hypertension and diabetes and losing inches around the waist in these cases can definitely be a boon.

Inch loss can be considered to be a better indicator of weight loss than weight loss itself. Why? As said earlier, it tells you that your weight loss process is going sustainable and will last for a long period of time. It can be called a healthier way of losing weight. So, if you are losing size but not weight, don’t worry.

Your focus should be fat loss (Not weight loss)

Let us take the example of the pot again. Imagine you weigh a pot which contains some stones, some water and some soil. Now, if you remove some stones from this pot, the weight will decrease. If you remove either the soil or water from the pot, the weight of the pot will still reduce. The same thing happens with your body too when you lose weight.

Weight loss can happen due to three factors: water loss, loss of fat and loss of muscle mass. When you start your weight loss journey, your weight loss is very rapid and you lose weight very quickly. Notice that here I am talking about weight loss and not fat loss. This is because the initial weight that you lose is mainly due to the loss of excess water from the body.

Many of the crash diets which claim to be effective for weight loss bring about a loss in your muscle mass too. Now, losing muscle is not good for the general health and wellbeing of the body and hence you need to maintain and grow your muscle mass while reducing your fat.

One added advantage of increasing muscle mass is that it boosts your resting metabolic rate and makes you burn more calories even when you are not moving around! A way in which you can increase your muscle mass while reducing your weight is by consuming an adequate amount of proteins in your diet and resistance training.

When you are on your weight loss journey, you should mainly focus on losing fat rather than losing weight. Your fat loss may be slow but do not feel discouraged. You will surely start seeing results soon.

Weighing scale might deceive you

Like photos, the weighing scale can be deceptive too. A weighing scale will tell you your weight but not whether your weight is healthy or unhealthy, nor will it tell you the distribution of fat in your body. It will not even account for the muscle mass in your body. Hence, weighing yourself during your weight loss process is not a very reliable way of understanding whether you are losing water, muscle mass or fat. For this, you need to look and measure yourself in various other ways and not depend on the weighing scale. So, what are the other ways in which you can measure yourself and your weight loss?

Other parameters for measuring weight loss

You do not want to depend on a single parameter to measure your weight loss. A combination of these parameters can be helpful in understanding if you are actually losing fat.

Loosing inches but not weight


One of the easiest ways of measuring your weight loss is the fitting of your clothes. If you start fitting in your old jeans and your current clothes start getting loose and baggy, it means that you are on the right track.

Measuring your body inches

You can use a tape measure to measure different parts of your body like your hips, thighs, arms, etc and see if you are losing inches. Losing inches actually means that you are losing fat.

Scales for body fat measurement

These scales help in knowing the body composition and will give you the percentage of fat, water and muscle mass in your body. It is a better way of understanding what you are exactly losing: fat, water or muscle mass. They are usually available in all the gyms and you can easily access them.

Body fat calculators

Body fat calculators are available online and also in various health-related apps. You need to fill in the measurements of different parts of your body along with other parameters like height and weight. This calculator will use the pre-fed equations and help you know your body fat percentage.

Setting measurable goals

Instead of focusing on weight loss, you can focus on the amount of weight you lift and your progression in various exercises. This will not only motivate you but also boost your confidence in your weight loss journey.


Do you lose inches before you lose weight?

It is hard to tell if you will lose inches first or weight and this situation is like the egg and chicken as to which came first. You may even lose both together! 

It is important to understand that inch loss is not bad. Any kind of progress is progress and inch loss maybe your baby steps towards your goal. Also, your goal should always be losing fat and not losing weight.

So, the next time you fit in your college jeans, give yourself a big pat on your back. You deserve it!

Diet planning workshop

Interested in learning more about healthy eating habits?

Then you can join our Diet planning Workshop. Right from understanding the basics of nutrition vis-a-vis energy balance, calories and macronutrients to learning how to navigate through plateaus, this workshop is a well thought out session that will enrich your learning.

Click here to learn more.

Author: Dr. Pooja Nilgar (Content writer & Editor)

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