How to Measure and Monitor Your Weight-Loss Progress: Fat vs. Muscles

In my article Setting Weight Loss Goal, I mentioned a number of measures to determine if you are overweight.  The most common measure is the Body Mass Index (BMI) which assesses height and weight; the results correspond to a description of underweight, normal, overweight and obese.  BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight (in kilograms) by his or her height (in meters, squared). BMI can also be calculated by multiplying weight (in pounds) by 705, then dividing by height (in inches) twice.  Once you have calculated your BMI, you can determine your healthy weight range, as follows:

  • Under 18.5 –  underweight and possibly malnourished
  • 18.5 to 24.9 –  normal weight range
  • 25.0 to 29.9 – overweight
  • Over 30 – obese

When I started my weight loss journey, I was overweight. (slight)  As I  progressed with my diet and exercise program, my BMI slowly went down to the normal weight range, yet I did not feel that I was particularly getting healthier.  I did not know what else I can do to monitor my progress.


One limitation of the BMI is that it does not reveal anything about our fitness level nor about our body composition.  We have previously learned that in order to burn more calories, we need more muscle mass.  Muscles increases metabolism, helping us be more efficient in burning calories.


fat cartoonshirtless_muscular_hercules_by_hercules4disney-d4zv9jjSo other than BMI, you can look at other factors such as body composition.  Body composition refers to the percentage of fat in relation to bone and muscle.  Normal body fat measurement generally ranges from 18-30% for women and 15-25% for men.  Athletes may have lower ranges.  If fat content is higher than the normal range, you are at risk of cardiovascular disease.  On the other hand, it is also not healthy to have too low levels of fat content since there is less ability to store certain vitamins.  Further, you will be exposed to increased risk of osteoporosis.

So, how do you analyze body composition?.  It was fortunate that at Fitness First, we can have our body composition analyzed through a bioelectrical impedance machine.  Basically, we just step on the weighing scale barefoot and the machine sends electrical currents through the body to assess fat and lean mass. .  This method is based on the principle that muscles are more electrically conductive than fat.  In addition to fat content, the machine spits out other information such as water percentage, visceral fat rating, and metabolic age.  When I started my weight loss program, my metabolic age was 10 years older than my biological age.  This indicated that I had excess fats, which slowed down my metabolism.  I intuitively knew where those fats were mostly stored: in the butt, hips and belly area.

With an exercise program combining cardio, strength and stretching, plus counting calories, I was able to reduce fat percentage, metabolic age and overall weight.  Being able to track these metrics provided me with motivation to achieve my goals.

One thought on “How to Measure and Monitor Your Weight-Loss Progress: Fat vs. Muscles

  1. Pingback: 5 Steps to Cut Down Calories Safely and Effectively | mygreenjuice

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