I'm visilbly losing size but gaining weight. What's all that about?

I've been eating really well recently and I'm visibly, significantly thinner. I can feel the difference in my clothes. I can't wear some of them anymore because they're too big now.

I've been doing a bit of exercise but not that much more than I used to do.

However, when I weigh myself, I'm heavier. I know muscle is heavier than fat but I don't think I've gained that much muscle.

Can anyone help to explain this?

12 Replies

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  • Hi andyallen,

    I can perhaps explain that.

    Firstly, though, I'm kind of wondering what sort of BMI you come in at? (There's a calculator here, if you don't already know: - nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/Healthyw... )

    Now if you've within normal band (18.5 to 25), or pehaps slightly over, then it may be that you have replaced body fat with muscle. Many people quote the 'muscle is heavier than fat thing' but really it's not very relevant if, when you look in the mirror, you are still teletubbie shaped. Gaining muscle does not necessarily equate to losing fat - you can be muscular AND fat!

    If your BMI is above that, say 28, 29 or more, then it is almost certain that you have significant body fat and would probably be well advised to try to lose that.

    In which case all the advice on the NHSChoices live well lose weight pages will be for you, together with the 12 week plan. Exercise-wise you will probably want to bias your exercise/activity to promoting lean muscle.

    About 12 years ago, I did a lot of exercise, including some weights, but didn't deal at all with the diet / food intake side of it all and I managed to slim down significantly.

    I certainly improved my muscle strength, especially my abs, which helped to pull in my 'pot', and I also, from upping the exercise helped to, a) burn off some more of the calories I was eating and b) help trigger the hormones to burn off some of the fat.

    But, I just didn't really address the eating habit side of the equation.

    This time however I have adderssed it and I'm now over 3 stone lighter than when I started in January and instead of buying 40 in waist trousers, I buy 34 in waist ones.

    However, I'd also be curious to know how much weight you've gained and if you are weighing yourself in a consistent manner, e.g. first thing in the morning after your first pee, before any food or exercise.

    If you continue to gain weight without suitable explanation, I'd suggest you talk with your doctor about it.

  • Thanks for replying Diokosp.

    I'm 24.odd on my BMI which most charts say is just inside my 'ideal' zone. My aim is to get comfortably in the centre of my ideal zone.

    I weighed myself in early Feb and since then have been increasingly, significantly more careful with my diet and have been doing various forms of exercise in fits and starts. I've only gained 1lb but the thing is, I am a lot thinner. I mean, some of clothes are hanging off me and people comment (without prompting) at how much weight I've lost. When I weighed myself this morning, I expected to see a dramatic drop in weight and was really frustrated to see it had gone up.

    I'm pretty happy with the way I'm shaping - much less tellytubby-like! I'm just baffled by the weight gain.

    Oh, I measure myself on my wii in the mornings so that's pretty consistant.

    Maybe the exercise has been more effective than I realised and I have gained muscle? Would that really explain it? I'm hardly Schwartzeniger!

  • At that sort of BMI, it's much more likely to be that you're putting on weight through gaining muscle.

    If you're at that sort of BMI, you won't be carrying a high percentage of body fat, so the increased muscle weight will notice. Also the slimming effect will probably be that you're toning up generally and improving the strength of your abs in particular, so that you're carrying your body better.

    The 'normal' band of BMI runs from 18.5 to 25, which is quite a range, especially if you're tall, but it tries to fit in a variety of skeletal types.

    It's common for people, especially men, who have much higher BMIs and have started doing a bit of gym work, to quote the 'muscle heavier than fat' line as soon as they hit their first weight loss 'blip'.

    So I did a bit of research and found that many very serious body-builders - and I mean international standard - have BMIs of only about 25 to 27, and surely they are just about the most muscle maxed-out people you're going to find?

  • Ok thanks Diokosp.

    I thought I was a scientific anomally for a while there! It's good to know I'm normal and I'm on the right track.

    Trouble is, I've got a weight loss bet with friend. I see him stuffing his face everyday, only slightly less than normal, and he's still going to win!

    Still, I'd rather have the shape than the prize.

    Thanks again

  • Hi andyallen,

    My argument to that would be if you're already within the 'normal' band of BMI, you've probably already 'won', at least in health and wellbeing terms - I mean like, what is his BMI, then?

  • I can't quite remember now, a bit more than mine I think. The competition is to see who can lose the most BMI points. At he last 'BMI off', he was 2 points down and I was 1 point up. However, I've lost significant girth and he hasn't. So he gets the prize but I get the health benefits - it's a good trade off!

    I'll have to think of another way to measure health progress for the next bet though. This way's costing me a fortune!

  • This is exactly why I quit weighing myself--I was wearing a size four but if I had gained two more pounds I would have been considered overweight according to the charts! Now I just judge/watch my weight via my clothing size and tape measure.

  • Good to know it's not just me then.

    Thanks for that Twentytogo

  • BMI is supposed to be a great indication for people that are distance from the normal range, ie: either very overweight/obese or very underweight, it's now though being argued that the calculation is flawed when it comes to measuring people who are in or around the normal range. Look at Dr Christian Jessen (Channel 4) the standard BMI indicates that he is overweight.

    There is good explanation at ox.ac.uk/media/science_blog... and an updated calculator using one of the new formulas at telegraph.co.uk/health/heal...

  • I replaced the batteries in my Wii this morning and weighed myself again. It told me I'd lost 4lbs which makes much more sense.

    Thanks for all your replies and good advice though - very helpful.

  • I've just used the new BMI calculator (thanks to OlsBean for that link to the telegraph article) - I was very pleased to see that under the 'new' version my BMI is 24.9 Under the old version I would be BMI 26. I am 6 feet 1 inch tall - so I am an example of how the old BMI system has exaggerated the weight range. I am very pleased to know I am now within the healthy BMI range. :-)

  • Could be that you are creating more muscle mass. Muscle weighs more than fat. Keep exercising but enjoy it also. :)

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