Fitness

Why Do I Look Thinner but Weigh More?


Muscle occupies less space than fat, making you look thinner.

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If you've been working out hard in hopes of losing weight, but instead weigh more and appear thinner it may be because you have replaced body fat with lean muscle. The good thing is that more muscle means improved strength and energy, and a higher metabolism. When it comes to losing weight, it is more important to focus on fat loss rather than the number on the scale.

Fat vs. Muscle

There is a misconception that muscle weighs more than fat, but this is not entirely true. The difference is that muscle is more compact than fat, which means that it takes up less space. It is estimated that 1 pound of muscle occupies about 22 percent less space than 1 pound of fat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the same mass of muscle weighs more than the same mass of fat, which may explain why you appear thinner but weigh more.

Muscle Growth

If you've been strength training and gaining weight it may be partly because of your exercise routine and diet. Strength training two to three times a week lifting enough weight to cause your muscles to fatigue while maintaining proper form helps muscles grow. If you haven't changed your diet, it is likely you may be eating enough calories to support muscle growth. While the number on the scale may be going up, your body composition is changing for the better.

Losing Fat

When it comes to losing weight, specifically body fat, diet and exercise both play important roles. One pound of fat contains 3,500 calories. To lose 1 to 2 pounds of fat in a week -- a safe rate of weight loss -- you need to create a calorie deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories a day by reducing calorie intake, increasing exercise or both. If you want to keep your muscle, it is better to lose weight slowly. Losing weight too quickly, more than 2 pounds a week, means you are more likely losing muscle and water weight.

Skip the Scale

If you're unhappy with the number you see on the scale, then maybe you should skip your regular weigh-ins. Instead, use your clothes as a guide to how your body is changing. You can drop a size or two after one to two months of strength training, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can also get your body fat tested regularly by a trained professional to determine your body composition. Watching your body fat percentage decrease is as uplifting as watching the numbers on the scale go down.

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