Am I really losing muscle mass?
I recommitted to primal eating and began an exercise regimen in January (getting my heart rate up to 55-75% of max for 30-40 minutes a day, and doing some lifting and body weight exercises a couple times a week). I think I'm getting stronger because the amount I can lift is increasing, and I'm generally just feeling stronger.
Here's the problem: early on I had my body composition analyzed by one of those Tanita scales at the gym, where you stand on it barefoot for a few seconds and you get your lean muscle mass and body fat % calculated. I then had it checked again a few months into my program. I know these aren't terribly accurate for absolute numbers, but I was disappointing to see that after a couple months of strength training and eating primaly, I've 'lost' about 2 lbs of muscle mass in addition to 15 lbs of fat.
The trainer at the gym said this was still pretty good/normal for that amount of fat loss, but I thought I'd at least maintain if not gain some lean muscle mass. Can I trust the numbers from the Tanita scale, at least relative from one weighing to the next, or is there a chance the numbers are off?
I'm female, by the way, and probably don't eat as much protein as I should to hit .75 gram per pound of body weight, but it's difficult when I'm trying to stick to about 1,400 calories a day for fat loss.
Good chance the numbers are off...those things are notoriously inaccurate. I think good ole caliper test is more accurate.
There's always a chance the numbers are off, but they are not unreasonable if you ask me. The loss of lean body mass is inevitable when you stay in a calorie deficit for prolonged periods of time. Your job is to optimize the fat to LBM loss ratio - and that's where resistance training and proper dieting comes into the picture.
On a side note, I'm usually okay with a ratio of 3:1 when I have to lose weight. Your numbers are significantly better than that. Congratulations.
That's great to hear @Kharnath- thanks!
No way in hell the Tanita scale is accurate enough that you would know your lean body mass within 2 pounds. And I own one and think it's a great tool.
Even rounding could be responsible for that much variance. Use the scale to get the impression over time that your body fat percentage is moving in the right direction (down for most of us ) and keep doing what's clearly working so well for you.
It's good to hear affirmation that the Tanita scale can be off. How do you use it, @RichMahogany?
Tanita can be off 2% per time of day (according to the guide I got with mine). The suggested way to use them is measure every day at the exact same time under the same conditions for a month and average the results. Make sure you haven't eaten recently, just woken up or just worked out. I measure when I get home from work (around 5). And my results do vary day to day.
Doing two measurements do far apart isnt really a good indicator.
To establish long-term trends.
Originally Posted by lesliek
I mostly just use it to weigh myself now, but there was a time when it helped me recognize progress (e.g. going from consistent 18-20% bf readings to consistent 14-16% bf readings when I started using it).
I now use it mainly to weigh myself leading up to a sporting event with weight classes. I determine my estimated body fat percentage using a mirror and a formula that I think is more accurate for me (16 minus the number of clearly visible abdominal muscles, divided by 100 to get a percentage). This is entirely individual though and probably would vary greatly based on body types and how one carries extra fat. And of course you can only use it between 8 and 16 percent body fat. On the other hand, the scale doesn't like to admit I'm below 12% body fat ever. Apparently they make a more expensive model that has an "athlete mode," which I don't have and can't comment on.
I made the mistake of updating the user profile information in the scale when I turned 30 and it got much less polite with its claims. Now I dialed it back to 25 and I like what it says a lot better.
On the other hand, the hand-held impedance tools always tell me I'm 3.5-5% body fat. So I'll say for sure that the scale is more accurate than those. I actually like the caliper method best, but you have to use one of the formulas that has several pinch points, not just a few, and usually they require a buddy.
I have had some lean body mass loss as well. I started in September and am down 50 pounds (226-176 and 37% bf-26%.) I was concerned about the lean body mass drop, but after all my reading, I believe that this is normal.
I test my body composition via DEXA scan which is supposed to be the most accurate measurement. I'd look around for a physician's office that has one and call and set an appointment to use it if I were you (look for doctors that specialize in bone disease, osteoporosis as they are most likely to have a dexa machine.)
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