One of the most common things you hear of in weight loss circles is the statement of, ‘I have not lost weight on the scales but my clothes are looser’. The common explanation for this is that muscle weighs more than fat and so if you are losing size but not weight on the scales it is ok because it is muscle – right? Hmmmm maybe, but as is the case with many areas of nutrition, weight loss and diet, the real explanation may not be so simple.
Yes, it is true that muscle is denser than fat and at times during the weight loss process you may not lose significant amounts of weight as the body mobilises fat and burns it over time but if you have more than 5-10kg to lose, you should at a minimum be able to drop 1-2kg a month, via diet and exercise.
If your weight loss is slower than this, it tells me a couple of things instantly – 1. Your calories and / or carbohydrates may be insufficient for your training load. 2. You are doing the incorrect mix of resistance / cardio training. 3. You could be insulin resistant.
Too few calories or carbohydrates will reduce metabolic rate; too much resistance work in an insulin resistant person will result in muscle being retained and most importantly, insulin resistant individuals require a very specific mix of macronutrients, cardio and resistance work to see significant changes in body composition and most importantly, to see weight loss.
So, if you have been working on losing weight for a while, have been eating well and exercising like crazy to see less than a kg a month down on the scales, it is time to review your diet and training regimes. Yes, muscle does weigh more than fat, but if you are carrying a significant amount of extra body fat, you should still be getting at least 1/2 kg a week drop on the scales. And if you are carrying >20kg, with distinct abdominal
weight, it may be worth checking if you have insulin resistance, as severe insulin resistance can act to
prevent fat loss without the correct diet and exercise prescription.