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Can You Lose Inches & Not Pounds?

author image Lynne Sheldon
Lynne Sheldon has over 12 years of dance experience, both in studios and performance groups. She is an avid runner and has studied several types of yoga. Sheldon now works as a freelance writer, editor and book reviewer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and art history from Boston University and recently completed her Master of Fine Arts in writing from Pacific University.
Can You Lose Inches & Not Pounds?
Your body composition is a good indicator of your health. Photo Credit webphotographeer/iStock/Getty Images

With regular exercise you may discover you've dropped a clothing size without losing any weight. It's possible to tone your muscles and lose inches but not pounds. Often times your overall body composition, as opposed to how much you weigh, is a better indicator of your level of fitness .

Building Muscle

When you start strength-training regularly, your muscles grow and you may actually begin to gain weight. It may be because you have gained more muscle while losing fat. Muscle tissue weighs more than fatty tissue, so you may lose inches while toning but not lose pounds. Your weight may not change but you may see a visible difference in muscle tone and the overall shape of your body.

Healthy Weight

A weight-loss plateau occurs when you stop losing pounds despite the fact that you have not made any changes to your diet or exercise routine. You may, however, continue to lose inches as your muscle mass increases, though your weight will stay the same. If you have not yet reached a healthy weight and need to keep losing pounds, consult your doctor for suggestions.

Dietary Factors

You can lose both inches and body weight through exercise alone, but that requires you to expend more calories than you consume. You will need to eliminate 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound of fat. Start paying attention to what you eat each day, and write it down in a food diary. Once you know how much you are eating, you will be able to make the necessary changes to cut calories and begin dropping pounds.

Additional Considerations

As your muscles grow and become stronger, you will need to either exercise more often or at a greater intensity to keep losing both inches and pounds. You can work out 10 minutes longer each day or start lifting heavier weights. Changing up your workout variables -- speed, intensity, frequency -- can help keep your muscles challenged so your fitness progress doesn't stall.

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