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Weighing for Body Recomposition – Q&A

Question: I read of wave_length’s method of weighing yourself for body recomposition.

Basically, his method was to weigh himself everyday. If he was under his target weight, he’d eat two meals. If over, he’d just skip his last meal. He takes a protein shake w/ 100g whey and makes sure he hits at least 1g/lb of LBM everyday.  Will this work for recomposition?

Answer: While I have no clue what or who a wave_length is, here are my answers.  Short answer: no, this won’t work.

Long answer: This is stupid on so many levels I’m not sure where to start.

First and foremost, as I discussed in What Does Body Composition Mean? the whole point of using body composition methods is that body weight per se generally can’t tell you much of anything.  There are exceptions of course: in the extremely obese for example, most weight loss will be fat assuming a few criteria (basic weight training, protein) are met.   In that case, the scale is sufficient since weight losses will indicate fat losses.

But for lean and/or trained individuals, body weight changes alone tells you literally nothing because a change in weight might represent a change in any number of things: muscle, fat, water, glycogen, you took a big dump, you didn’t take a big dump, etc.  A change in weight doesn’t tell you anything meaningful.

I addressed this in some detail in Measuring Body Composition Part 1 and Measuring Body Composition Part 2.  In any case, this is problem one with this approach: scale weight is basically useless to track actual body composition changes under most circumstances.

Problem two is this: day-to-day changes in weight aren’t meaningful under the majority of circumstances.  Some examples to make this clear: if you’re on a low-sodium diet and you eat some pizza or something salty, your weight will spike the next morning.  But it’s all water weight.  Eat less vegetables on a given day and your weight will go down after you take a dump because you have less food residue in your colon.

Gorge on high-fiber, high-residue foods and your weight will go up because you have more waste moving through your colon.  Cut carbs a lot and you will drop water like a mad-man and weight will plummet.  Do a high-volume glycogen depleting workout and the same can happen.  Do the workout with low carbs and body-weight can drop by a number of kilos from water loss.  A coach/friend of mine uses this approach with athletes who need to make weight, he can drop 1-2.5 kg off of them in a matter of HOURS with the combination of lowered carbs and a hard glycogen-depleting workout.

All of these can acutely affect weight on a day to day basis but NONE of them are indicative of actual changes in muscle mass or fat mass (which happen on a longer time scale under most circumstance especially in the lean and/or trained).  Not to mention that the previous day’s adjustment is going to affect the next day’s scale weight measurement anyhow.  If you skip dinner on a day when your weight is up, you’re going to weigh less the next morning BECAUSE YOU SKIPPED DINNER and have less food in your gut.  But it’s got nothing to do with actual body composition changes.

The bottom line is this: adjusting your diet daily based on scale weight changes is simply an idiotic way to do anything; all you’ll do is spin your wheels by adjusting calories up and down and up and down in a pointless fashion based on a meaningless measurement that is being affected by the wheel spinning caloric adjustements days to day.  A far better approach is what I describe in Adjusting the Diet.  Do that instead of following the nonsense above.

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