WHY THE SCALES CAN LIE
A biologist at Berkeley shared something very revealing on the low-carb BBS system about 4 years ago that helps us all through the erratic weight fluctuations you invariably encounter: Fat cells are resilient, stubborn little creatures that do not want to give up their actual cell volume. Over a period of weeks, maybe months of "proper dieting", each of your fat cells may have actually lost a good percentage of the actual fat contained in those cells. But the fat cells themselves, stubborn little guys, replace that lost fat with water to retain their size. That is, instead of shrinking to match the reduced amount of fat in the cell, they stay the same size! Result - you weigh the same, look the same, maybe even gained some scale weight, even though you have actually lost some serious fat.
The good news is that this water replacement is temporary. It's a defensive measure to keep your body from changing too rapidly. It allows the fat cell to counter the rapid change in cell composition, allowing for a slow, gradual reduction in cell size. The problem is, most people are frustrated with their apparent lack of success, assume they have lost nothing, and stop dieting.
However, if you give those fat cells some time, like 4-6 months, and ignore the scale weight fluctuations, your real weight/shape will slowly begin to show. The moral of the story - be patient! Your body is changing even if the number on the scale isn't.
PATTERNS OF WEIGHT LOSS
Common patterns of weight loss from tracking a lot of people who become assimilated into the low carb lifestyle, a pattern emerges.... the 2 week induction is pretty heady...weight lost just about every single day, enormous and unbelievable amounts of weight loss are reported. This is often followed by complaints that weight loss "stalls" or that the rate drops to only 1 pound per week.
Many people just don't know that fat-loss ...the actual goal when on a weight-reduction" diet, is rate-limited. In other words, the human body has factors that prevent more than a certain amount of fatty-acid release from storage...and even more factors that prevent those released fatty acids from being used up instead of stored back into the fat cells.
A priority of the human body is survival. Anything that threatens its survival results in the cascade of events to maintain the previous status quo. Water fluctuations are one way the body does this. OK...so you done good on Atkins' during induction...lost 10 pounds the first 2 weeks. Maybe 7 the first week and 3 the second. But, whoa! Weeks 3 and 4 there is NO loss! And weeks 5 and 6 is only 1/2 pound each!
So... what gives? Initially, the body jettisons the water attached to the glycogen stores that we diligently deplete to get into ketosis...this accounts for about 3-5 pounds of water. In addition, muscle stores of glycogen are not being replaced when used...which will account for the rest. All in all...MAYBE 1/2 pound of fat was metabolized during the first week... and MAYBE 1/2 pound of fat was metabolized the 2nd week. Of that 10 initial pounds, only 1 pound was fat and 9 pounds water...
The body senses this lack and sirens start shrieking: Warning! Warning! Losing water... new thing...got to get back to the status quo! Brain tells body to produce and release that vasopressin anti-diuretic hormone....more water is retained, and no weight loss noticed. Fat loss is still occurring, MAYBE even 2 pounds per week, because ketosis is firmly established and appetite suppression is in effect...but water retention is hiding that continuing fat loss. The body is preventing dehydration with this mechanism, and that's a *good* thing.
From the perspective of the scale, it can be discouraging. Which is why the mantra: Water retention masks fat loss (repeated frequently to oneself) is helpful. Water retention will mask ongoing fat-loss for as long as the body retains the water. We can combat this by drinking more water...but we aren't going to totally overcome this mechanism during the initial water-loss phase of the Atkins diet. By weeks 5 and 6, things start to get back in balance, and the scale will begin to reflect the true fat-loss...which, as mentioned before is rate-limited.
Individuals vary, but max weight loss runs about 2 pounds per week...under extremely optimal conditions... or 1% of body weight (whichever is the lower number). So don't use the scale as an excuse to undermine your progress. Even when the scale is in a stall, fat loss can be occurring.
We've been told over an over again that daily weighing is unnecessary, yet many of us can't resist peeking at that number every morning. If you just can't bring yourself to toss the scale in the trash, you should definitely familiarize yourself with the factors that influence it's readings. From water retention to glycogen storage and changes in lean body mass, daily weight fluctuations are normal. They are not indicators of your success or failure. Once you understand how these mechanisms work, you can free yourself from the daily battle with the bathroom scale.
Water makes up about 60% of total body mass. Normal fluctuations in the body's water content can send scale-watchers into a tailspin if they don't understand what's happening. Two factors influencing water retention are water consumption and salt intake. Strange as it sounds, the less water you drink, the more of it your body retains. If you are even slightly dehydrated your body will hang onto it's water supplies with a vengeance, possibly causing the number on the scale to inch upward. The solution is to drink plenty of water.
Excess salt (sodium) can also play a big role in water retention. A single teaspoon of salt contains over 2,000 mg of sodium. Generally, we should only eat between 1,000 and 3,000 mg of sodium a day, so it's easy to go overboard. Sodium is a sneaky substance. You would expect it to be most highly concentrated in salty chips, nuts, and crackers. However, a food doesn't have to taste salty to be loaded with sodium. A half cup of instant pudding actually contains nearly four times as much sodium as an ounce of salted nuts, 460 mg in the pudding versus 123 mg in the nuts.
The more highly processed a food is, the more likely it is to have a high sodium content. That's why, when it comes to eating, it's wise to stick mainly to the basics: fruits, vegetables, lean meat, beans, and whole grains. Be sure to read the labels on canned foods, boxed mixes, and frozen dinners.
Women may also retain several pounds of water prior to menstruation. This is very common and the weight will likely disappear as quickly as it arrives. Pre-menstrual water-weight gain can be minimized by drinking plenty of water, maintaining an exercise program, and keeping high-sodium processed foods to a minimum.
Another factor that can influence the scale is glycogen. Think of glycogen as a fuel tank full of stored carbohydrate. Some glycogen is stored in the liver and some is stored the muscles themselves. This energy reserve weighs more than a pound and it's packaged with 3-4 pounds of water when it's stored. Your glycogen supply will shrink during the day if you fail to take in enough carbohydrates.
As the glycogen supply shrinks you will experience a small imperceptible increase in appetite and your body will restore this fuel reserve along with it's associated water. It's normal to experience glycogen and water weight shifts of up to 2 pounds per day even with no changes in your calorie intake or activity level. These fluctuations have nothing to do with fat loss, although they can make for some unnecessarily dramatic weigh-ins if you're prone to obsessing over the number on the scale.
Otherwise rational people also tend to forget about the actual weight of the food they eat. For this reason, it's wise to weigh yourself first thing in the morning before you've had anything to eat or drink. Swallowing a bunch of food before you step on the scale is no different than putting a bunch of rocks in your pocket. The 5 pounds that you gain right after a huge dinner is not fat. It's the actual weight of everything you've had to eat and drink. The added weight of the meal will be gone several hours later when you've finished digesting it.
Exercise physiologists tell us that in order to store one pound of fat, you need to eat 3,500 calories more than your body is able to burn. In other words, to actually store the above dinner as 5 pounds of fat, it would have to contain a whopping 17,500 calories. This is not likely, in fact it's not humanly possible. So when the scale goes up 3 or 4 pounds overnight, rest easy, it's likely to be water, glycogen, and the weight of your dinner. Keep in mind that the 3,500 calorie rule works in reverse also. In order to lose one pound of fat you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in.
Generally, it's only possible to lose 1-2 pounds of fat per week. When you follow a very low calorie diet that causes your weight to drop 10 pounds in 7 days, it's physically impossible for all of that to be fat. What you're really losing is water, glycogen, and muscle.
This brings us to the scale's sneakiest attribute. It doesn't just weigh fat. It weighs muscle, bone, water, internal organs and all. When you lose "weight," that doesn't necessarily mean that you've lost fat. In fact, the scale has no way of telling you what you've lost (or gained). Losing muscle is nothing to celebrate. Muscle is a metabolically active tissue. The more muscle you have the more calories your body burns, even when you're just sitting around. That's one reason why a fit, active person is able to eat considerably more food than the dieter who is unwittingly destroying muscle tissue.
Robin Landis, author of "Body Fueling," compares fat and muscles to feathers and gold. One pound of fat is like a big fluffy, lumpy bunch of feathers, and one pound of muscle is small and valuable like a piece of gold. Obviously, you want to lose the dumpy, bulky feathers and keep the sleek beautiful gold. The problem with the scale is that it doesn't differentiate between the two. It can't tell you how much of your total body weight is lean tissue and how much is fat.
There are several other measuring techniques that can accomplish this, although they vary in convenience, accuracy, and cost. Skin-fold calipers pinch and measure fat folds at various locations on the body, hydrostatic (or underwater) weighing involves exhaling all of the air from your lungs before being lowered into a tank of water, and bioelectrical impedance measures the degree to which your body fat impedes a mild electrical current.
If the thought of being pinched, dunked, or gently zapped just doesn't appeal to you, don't worry. The best measurement tool of all turns out to be your very own eyes. How do you look? How do you feel? How do your clothes fit? Are your rings looser? Do your muscles feel firmer? These are the true measurements of success. If you are exercising and eating right, don't be discouraged by a small gain on the scale. Fluctuations are perfectly normal. Expect them to happen and take them in stride.
It's a matter of mind over scale.
Another explanation.. of flux frustration
Read on if you want to understand "fluctuations" and "yo-yo's" !
I replied to a post and I thought other people might be interested to read this: I too hate those scale "fluctuations" and "yo-yos". Not only do they make us doubt (I am doing this right?? why am I gaining I follow the diet to the T !!!???) I did some research and I found something very interesting online and I will share with you if you don't mind. We have in our bodies, a FIX amount of fat cells, we don't loose fat cells as we loose weight, it is just that those cells are letting go the fat and are shrinking. Our body in return, try to "keep everything intact, in balance, as it is..." so it temporarely replaces the fat with water, sometime with even more water than the amount of fat coming out! And as your cells slowly "de-flate" and get back to normal, your body "tighten" the cells and let go off the water. (they give the example of a air balloon that you would inflate to the max for a long period of time, when you finally let the air out, the balloon is very wrinkled and don't look like the balloon you first started with...) for your body, the fat causes "inbalance" and your body has to heal the same way as if you had a cut, the deaper the cut, the longer your body will take to heal it, "fix" it. The "wrinklier" the balloon, the longer it takes to heal it... That would explain why we might see a good new low weight, we are all excited, then next day it is up 2 pounds and those 2 pounds take a few days to go back down, just to reveal a new low, and then the same cycle start again. Next time you see a 2 pound high, remember, your body just noticed a fat loss and is "balancing" and "healing" things out, that mean you HAVE loss fat and you are on the verge of seeing a new LOW on the scale. Instead of being frustrated, we should be rejoycing! It is certainly not time to eat out of the book! I also understand better why they say a plateau is 4 weeks or more. They say It can take up to 4 weeks for certain person's cells to get back to normal, to heal, it depends on the speed of the weight loss, how long we have been overweight and other factors. After 4 weeks those fat cells are back to normal for sure if you are a healthy person, they are done healing, so if you still don't loose, it's time to tweak and see what you can do to break the plateau, Dr.Atkins' book show several way to help, his 1972 version, if you have it, would be a good place to start... I just did 2 x fat fast the Dr.Atkins recommend in his book and broke a 4 months plateau and went down 12 pounds, according on what I just described, I assume it would be normal that I stay at or around that weigh for a few to several days. I can maybe add... the body uses water to "fix" or "heal" our muscles too after a good work-out. You can be 2 pounds heavier after a good workout and this is not muscles just yet... it is water that your system uses to "heal" your body. If your muscles "hurt", then there is water in it. If you weigh everyday you will see normal fluctuations, look at the monthly fluctuations and not weekly, if you weigh once a week or twice a week, don't trust the scale because as Jacq said, you might just be in a part where your body is "fixing" your cells and the next day could have show you a number totally different. So when you follow the Dr. Atkins's book to the T and see a gain on the scale, REJOYCE! A new LOW is on it's way! I am no doctor and this is finding I did online, those appears to be written by a doctor so I would tend to believe it. Do your own researches and you won't be "disappointed" or "frustrated" and indulge when you see a small gain on the scale... I wonder... If we see a BIG gain on the scale, does that mean we have a big loss of fat??!! replaced by a LOT of WATER and a BIG new low is coming!!! That's great! LOL Have a terrific day all...
To this information I will also add: Yes, we do have set fat cells that we create at different times of life. The do not float away.They are laways there... and for those considering liposuction, or have had that and had some odd things happen...:
Our bodies REPLACE lost fat cells. How unfair is THAT! I was told that by my surgeon after I had abdomniopastic surgery aka "tummy tuck".. after losing the 190 lbs it was medically needed for the flap of belly.. yes, we know what that is if you have been obese...
well, soon after that was done, I noticed that my uh..well.. hmm... ok.. no other way t o say this.. my bra was getting tight and I got bigger.. before I could not see my toes becasue of my belly and now I could not see them because of this new development.. when I asked my wonderful surgeon and pal what was going on he laughed and explained that the fat cells return in other areas and usually in the chest for women.. not happy me!
So, I hope you enjoyed the article and I find this so true on both medical knowledge and personal!
Published Friday, March 21, 2014 03:48 by Cricket56