Weight vs. muscle mass: What’s more important for weight loss?

Weight vs. muscle mass: What’s more important for weight loss?

How often do you weigh yourself? Does the number on the scale fluctuate so often that you find yourself getting disappointed with your progress? Your actual weight has a lot to do with how much fat and muscle mass you have in your body. I’m here to help you make sense of it all rather than getting hung up about a ‘perfect number’!

I was at the store last week when a woman asked me about my weight. I was caught off-guard when her response was ‘Wow, that’s so heavy for someone your size.’ My quick response was ‘muscle mass weighs more than fat,’ but I quickly had to clarify because that’s also incorrect. A pound of muscle weighs exactly the same as a pound of fat, however muscle takes up less space in your body compared to fat. Meaning that although I look small, I weigh much more than she expected to hear. My body composition is such that I’m made up of a lot of lean muscle mass and a relatively low body fat percentage.


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I had to ask myself why I suddenly got so sensitive about the number on the scale when asked about it. I wondered if other people felt the same way when questioned about their weight. It seems to me that we’re heavily influenced by what others, including the media, think. They seem to convince us that weighing less is somehow better for us. This implies that the less you weigh, the healthier you are, but it’s just not true. Health and well-being can’t be measured simply by looking at a number on the scale.

This prompted me to ask some of my friends about their relationship with the scale. My hunch was correct—women tend to feel happier when the number on the scale is lower. Several women also admitted that even when they are at their “healthy goal weight,” they’re happy to continue losing. Men on the other hand seemed less concerned with their weight and more concerned with how they felt. Many admitted that they used how tight their belt was as a gauge to determine if a weight loss plan was working.

Concentrating on building your muscle mass can actually be incredibly helpful for a number of reasons. Working towards a good muscle mass ratio reduces the power of the scale, helps you build your strength and means you’re likely to be fit rather than simply slim. For many people, realizing their objective is feeling healthy and looking good helps them embrace exercise in their lives – and I always think it’s better for people to have fun with fitness than to deny themselves with a restrictive diet.

Avoid the weight scale blues

Getting discouraged is something we all want avoid on our journey to a healthy active life. Negative thoughts can be very discouraging. I’ve also learned that when someone constantly checks the number on the scale, it can prompt him or her to keep changing their approach before their body has even had a chance to respond or adapt to their new healthy habits.

Don’t quit on your health journey

Quitting because you don’t like the number you see on the scale should never be an option. It’s a matter of knowing your body. It’s important to take a positive approach to learning your body. If you monitor your results and don’t solely rely on the weight scale, it’ll boost your motivation to keep going.

Make lifestyle changes not quick fixes

Maintaining a healthy body composition requires a total lifestyle focus. This includes balanced nutrition, regular physical activity (endurance, strength, flexibility) and stress management. Keep all three in mind as you choose your health goals. It’s important to understand that exercise can’t be used as a substitute for a poor diet. It takes a lot of physical activity to burn enough calories to make a difference with weight loss. And, cookies are not a good choice for stress management! Find time to balance your life, as it’s essential to help keep you on track.