Insignificant weight loss?: Hi all, Not... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

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Insignificant weight loss?

Davidnotarunner profile image

Hi all,

Not exactly a running based post but I’m heading into week 7 now and thought I would take a moment to reflect my goals and achievements. I’m so proud that I have not failed on my running and am seeing positive moves forward every week. I’m enjoying it, and can’t emphasise enough how well the C25K has worked for me. However, I’m also keeping a balanced diet plan of around 1650 calories a day, and eating far better whole foods. But me and my scales are starting to fall out. I started the program at 13st 4… and I’ve basically danced between 13st 1 and 13st 6 ever since. 6 weeks, regular running, 30 minutes of resistance training on off days, rest day on Sunday and a calories deficit have done exactly…. Nothing! However, the measuring tape says I’ve lost around 2 inches? I’m not too worried, but does anyone have any insight into why this might be? Thanks in advance!

18 Replies
IannodaTruffe profile image

This FAQ post addresses that question

At the end of the day the unavoidable truth is that calories in need to be lower than calories burned by your body for sustainable weight loss. Don't trust the calories burned figures on apps and fitness watches.

Until I was required to for medical reasons, I never knew my weight, but I could tell simply by looking in a mirror if my weight had changed.

Eat well and ditch the scales would be my unscientific advice.

Thanks. Great help. 👍🏻👍🏻

nowster profile image

Simple! What you're losing in fat you're putting on in muscle. Muscle is more dense than fat.

The tape measure (or your trousers belt) is the best guide at this stage.

Another clue is on the face, and this is possibly what other people notice first. People will probably start saying, "You're looking well today."

Dpotter profile image
Dpotter in reply to nowster

Agree. Muscle weighs more than fat! The tape measure and how your clothes fit is a much better guide, and obviously how you are feeling. Good luck with the rest of the programme .

Thanks! I appreciate the advice.

Alan99 profile image
Alan99Graduate in reply to nowster

The trouser belt and face. Absolutely.

I have lost a stone (14 lbs) during my journey but, my weight is starting to creep up which I'm putting down to muscle development.

My jeans which were once too tight are now slightly too big and people see my face and comment that I look a lot healthier

I’ll keep an eye on my belt! I definitely feel better that’s for sure!

Unfortunately my face is covered in a big beard… 🧔🏻 but I’ll trust the tape!

BS44 profile image

I took up C25k to help me with weight loss but actually found I didn’t lose weight any faster - but my measurements did come down. Last time I got measured I had lost 3ins off my waist. After 4 months I have now lost 1st and 6lb which is slow but steady. Once I was running 30 minutes 3 times a week it did start to come off a little bit faster - or the running helped me not to put as much weight back on when I had nights out/weekends away 🍺🍺 🍕🍕🤣😊

Davidnotarunner profile image
Davidnotarunner in reply to BS44

Thanks for the advice, now I’m running for longer perhaps I’ll see a difference.

nowster profile image
nowsterGraduate in reply to Davidnotarunner

My own weight loss was gradual. There are some obvious stages:

- Gradual loss of about 7kg between C25K completion in August last year and December. This was also where I'd stopped snacking on biscuits, etc. I had put on an extra 2kg in the early part of lockdown because of inactivity and snacking. I put on nothing at all over the Christmas/New Year period.

- Another gradual drop of about 2kg when I started running over 90 minutes at a time, March-April.

- A slight increase in weight when I eased off the running when I had pulled a muscle.

- Another drop of about 1kg when I was increasing the frequency of runs and also doing 10km runs regularly after May.

- Probably another 0.5kg recently as I've been running about 5 days per week and extending my distances again.

Some of the wilder fluctuations have been due to differing hydration levels. If I weigh myself before a run and immediately after a run, there can be up to 1kg difference.

Apart from cutting out snacking on sugary biscuits (I snack on cheese a lot nowadays), I haven't make changes to my diet.

I'm now back at the weight I was in my mid-20s. My trousers are now loose at the waist but tight at the thighs.

I'll echo John_W. Patience and consistency is what's needed. If there's something you can cut out that you don't need (eg. snacking on sweeties), cut it out.

Thanks. That’s a really interesting example and a good comparison for me. I think hydration plays a big part for me too. 3 litres plus a day is new to me!

nowster profile image
nowsterGraduate in reply to Davidnotarunner

You don't need 3 litres plus.

Your requirements will vary. Two litres is a minimum. Four pints is good (2.27L). 2.5L daily is probably a good "normal". After a really sweaty run you might need between 500mL and 1L extra.

There is fluid in food, and that counts to a certain extent. Coffee, tea and beer count (in moderation). They have a diuretic effect which lessens their usefulness.

Overdoing hydration can have its own dangers.

As said elsewhere, the colour of your pee is the best indicator of hydration. It should have some colour but that colour should be pale.

Ah! That’s why mother and wife are warning me to be careful. I’ll pull it back a bit! 2.5 is much more realistic. I was struggling at 3 to be honest!

nowster profile image
nowsterGraduate in reply to Davidnotarunner

The only danger with drinking 3L is a matter of "urgency".

It's runners who drink too much over the course of a long run and in so doing dilute the electrolytes in their blood, leading to hyponatremia and hypervolemia.

John_W profile image

In addition to the muscle vs fat posts above, I'll add this:


(1) you're not running enough (don't take that the wrong way)

(2) you need to be patient

(3) you need to be consistent


You are doing ALL the right things and just need to keep going and be patient.

Various studies have shown that running burns 1 calorie per kilogram of bodyweight, per kilometer .

So, let's call you 13st 3lb ... that's 84 kg.

If you run , e.g. 3 km in your 25 minute Week 7 runs, that's 3 (km) x 84 (kg) = 252 calories.

252 calories is about 6 or 7 Rich Tea biscuits (39 cals each) ... i.e. ... NOT VERY MUCH AT ALL. Think about how easily it is to consume 252 cal in the course of a normal day.

[A cruder way to think of this is ... 1 mile burns 100 cals, so 5k/3.1 miles ... 300 cals]

The point is that exercise, especially cardio like running, cycling, rowing, swimming, elliptical, dancing, etc ... isn't very effective for weight-loss, simply because of the amount you need to do to see significant results. From a time efficiency point of view, then your resistance training, weight lifting etc, will be far more effective , simply cos you get more bang for your buck than from cardio.

You can do the maths yourself and see that C25K is never going to burn a significant amount of calories, due to the short-ish distances and relatively short of amount of time on your feet. If you view C25K as the start of your journey to becoming a regular, consistent runner, who is mindful of what they consume, then C25K has done its job. It can be the gateway to a healthier way of life.

Also, 7 weeks really isn't a long period of time ... try to think more long-term but also, take this 1 week at a time. Positive changes will continue to happen, if you stay consistent with what you're doing.

Ultimately, as many here point out, weight-loss comes overwhelmingly from changes in diet. Making long-lasting changes to that and combining with regular exercise, will be transformative.

If weight-loss is a big goal for you, I'd recommend looking at the books by Dr Michael Mosley and his wife Dr Clare Bailey. They are both on Instagram and are interesting to follow.

I repeat: you are doing ALL the right things and just need to keep going and be patient.

Perfect! Thank you for this. It’s a great help. Once I get running for longer and more consistently hopefully I’ll see a difference. 👍🏻👍🏻

UnfitNoMore profile image

Go with the tape measure, it gives the bigger picture.

Have you checked that you’re eating enough? There’s a BMI checker on the NHS site that will give you a range of calories for weight loss, and the best results are to be had at the higher end of that range.

The best measure of life expectancy is, apparently VO2max. If you have a running watch, this will be estimated for you. Yours, judging by your latest run report, is moving nicely in the right direction.

A pound of fat needs something like a marathon to get rid of via running, and to run a marathon takes fuelling, so it really isn’t a weight loss thing. It will continue to tone you up and have that VO2max increasing though.

Let the weight move very slowly, and keep the movement up… muscle mass is also a good indicator of life expectancy. This part of your journey will pretty much take care of itself over time if you eat well and move a lot!

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