What Is the Difference Between Weight Loss & Inches Lost?

Stepping on your bathroom scale is just one way to determine whether your weight-loss program is working. The number of inches you lose in target areas is also important. At the beginning of your program, write down your weight and the measurements around your hips, thighs and other areas. Every few weeks, repeat the process and note any changes. This tracks the effectiveness of your weight-loss program so you can make necessary adjustments.

Losing Weight

When your body needs more calories than your diet provides, it turns to your fat stores for energy. The more energy your body needs to draw from the fat stores, the more weight you lose. There are two ways to spur weight loss. First, decrease the number of calories in your diet by avoiding junk foods and eating healthy items instead, such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Second, increase your level of physical activity by participating in vigorous exercise, such as jogging, aerobics, swimming or other intense activities.

Losing Inches

When your body burns excess fat, you lose inches around typical locations of fat storage, such as the waist, hips and thighs. How many inches you lose depends on many factors, including your gender and your body's particular shape and metabolism. It's not possible to shrink a specific location on your body through weight-loss methods, so avoid any products that claim to take inches off particular body areas, notes the Weight-control Information Network.


Medical scales are the best way to determine how much weight you lost, but a quality bathroom scale can provide a good estimate. To control for differences between scales, use the same one for successive weight measurements. To monitor how many inches you gain or lose, use a flexible measuring tape, such as the type tailors use.


It's also possible to lose inches and gain weight. For example, if you're participating in a vigorous exercise program that includes strength training, it's possible to lose inches around your waist while developing muscle in other areas, such as your chest and arms. Muscle weighs more than fat, and it also burns more calories than fat, so this type of situation is not bad. If you notice that you are gaining muscle tone but are not losing weight at the rate you hoped, it's best to ignore the scale and focus on how your new muscle tone is improving your appearance. If you want to decrease the rate of muscle gain, opt for cardiovascular exercise instead of strength training.

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