It’s almost summer and if you haven’t been following your New Year’s resolution to lose weight and get in shape, you better get started! But how do you know that your new, healthy diet, or those hours in your Spin class are really working for you? Since this new regimen can lead to weight loss, fat loss and/or muscle gain, the number on the scale could go down, but since muscle weighs more than fat, it could also go up. Your best bet is to track your progress, which includes the scale, but some other methods as well.
New research suggests, BAI (body adiposity index) which is a height versus hip comparison test, may be more accurate then the standar BMI calculations. Why do away with BMI? Standard BMI tests may not be accurate for different types of body. For example, BMI is not very accurate for athletes (that whole muscle-weighs-more-than-fat thing again), and Asians (who should not have a BMI more than 22 or 23).
1. Use Your Scale Weekly. The simple but tried-and-true approach. The best way to weigh yourself is first thing in the morning, naked, and after you have gone to the bathroom. If nothing else, it should be at the same time each week and wearing the same amount of clothing. And don’t stop once you’re at your goal weight. The National Weight Control Registry found that most people who keep their weight off weigh themselves at least once per week. However, keep in mind that muscle weighs more than fat, so if you see that you are gaining weight slightly, don’t freak out. Make sure you’re using some of these other methods below to determine if it’s fat or muscle gain.
2. Track your BMI. BMI assesses your weight based on your height. A healthy BMI is within the 18.5 to 24.9 range.
3. Track your BAI. The photo for this piece and the free BAI calculator online is courtesy of Interactive Mathematics.
4. Pull out the tape measure once a week. Simply record your waist (abdominal) circumference by using your belly button as the center, and the widest part of your hips. If you also want to measure the widest part of your thighs and the mid-upper-arm (between the elbow and the shoulder) go for it. But the most important ones are your waist and hips, as that is where we mostly store fat.
5. Take the clothing test. How do your clothes feel? This may be one of the best tests for weight loss. If you’re losing weight and fat but gaining muscle, the scale may still be at the same number, but if your clothes are starting to feel looser, then you are on your way!
If you want to get fancy, some of the more expensive gyms might have BIA (bioelectrical impedance analysis), which can measure your body fat percentage. However, a combination of these methods above will be the easiest way to track your progress. Record them once a week, ideally at the same time of the day, to be the most accurate.