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Weight Loss Vs. Loss of Inches

author image Jessica DeLisa
Jessica DeLisa graduated from Drexel University in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in communication. To explore her interest in fitness she became a certified personal trainer in 2007. She has been writing since 2009, including for the publication she started, "Fit In NJ Magazine."
Weight Loss Vs. Loss of Inches
A woman is getting her waist measured. Photo Credit DAJ/amana images/Getty Images

Weight loss and loss of inches are important components to every weight loss plan. Both offer the benefits of a healthier body composition and a more appealing physique, but they are two very different things. Weight loss remains the primary measurement of diet and exercise routines, even when the drive to be thin -- the loss of inches-- is the main reason a weight loss routine was initiated.


Although weight loss and loss of inches are related, they do not always coexist. It is not uncommon to lose inches and not lose weight, especially in early stages of a weight loss routine. However, when you lose weight you will most often experience a loss of inches. The loss of weight and inches is determined by your body composition. An increase in muscle mass will shrink the body, but muscle weighs more than fat. Therefore, the increased weight of the muscle may prevent you from seeing an actual loss of weight and in some cases can cause a slight weight gain, even though your body is smaller.

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The loss of inches and body weight will contribute to a better overall health. This is because both are related to reducing body fat and increasing muscle mass. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that even a modest weight loss can improve your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. Since weight loss and the lose of inches is typically achieved through diet and exercise you will experience other health benefits. They include increased strength and cardio endurance and a decrease in the likelihood of developing diseases such as coronary heart disease and diabetes. The improvement in your health and physique, as well as other positive outcomes, can build confidence and fight depression.

Effects of Exercise

In general, there are two types of exercise--cardio and strength training. Cardio primarily utilizes the heart and lungs. Cardio is a key tool for weight loss due to its capability to burn calories. While you may also build muscle, it is minimal compared to strength training routines. Strength training exercises are performed to build muscle, but they also burn calories. Added muscle will shape and tone your body and may lead to a loss of inches before you see a weight loss reading on the scale. Both types of exercise help you to reach optimal health and aid in weight loss. Mix up the durations, intensity and frequency of each based on your overall goals.

Body Composition

The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports reports that assessing your body composition is important to understanding the makeup of your body mass. Your body composition is made up of bone, tissue, muscle, organs and fat. Too much weight due to excessive fat can contribute many negative health issues. The President's Council refers to this type of composition as “overfat” rather than “overweight.” That’s because you may weigh more than the average weight for your height due to extra muscle rather than weight, which is perfectly healthy. On the contrary, you can have an average weight, but have a higher percentage of fat and a lower percentage of muscle, which is not as healthy.


Since muscle weighs more than fat, and you can lose inches before you lose weight, it is important to consider how to determine the success of your weight loss goals. You may not realize you are losing inches and becoming healthier if your assessment is limited to reading your weight. Incorporate circumference measurements and body fat tests to assess how well your diet and exercise routines are working. This is especially true if you are motivated to have a slimmer, more toned physique. Try a body-fat caliper or electronic impedence scale.

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