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Weight loss stalls:Why the scales lie


Silver Member
I came across this on a low carb support forum when I was low carbing, however what it says totally applies to VLCDers too.

I find it a really comforting read as i have some soul destroying weekly weigh ins when i know I haven't cheated. They rock me so hard sometimes they almost make me give up. I often avoid weigh in altogether as it can be so demotivating.

Anway, have a read, if you just had a disappointing weigh in it may just be enough to keep you on the straight and narrow, at the very least it may not leave you feeling down all day about a bad weigh in.

Fat cells are resilient, stubborn little creatures that do not want to give up their actual cell volume. Over a period of weeks, maybe months of "proper dieting", each of your fat cells may have actually lost a good percentage of the actual fat contained in those cells. But the fat cells themselves, stubborn little guys, replace that lost fat with water to retain their size. That is, instead of shrinking to match the reduced amount of fat in the cell, they stay the same size! Result - you weigh the same, look the same, maybe even gained some scale weight, even though you have actually lost some serious fat.

The good news is that this water replacement is temporary. It's a defensive measure to keep your body from changing too rapidly. It allows the fat cell to counter the rapid change in cell composition, allowing for a slow, gradual reduction in cell size. The problem is, most people are frustrated with their apparent lack of success, assume they have lost nothing, and stop dieting.
However, if you give those fat cells some time, and ignore the scale weight fluctuations, your real weight/shape will slowly begin to show. The moral of the story - be patient! Your body is changing even if the number on the scale isn't.

A priority of the human body is survival. Anything that threatens its survival results in the cascade of events to maintain the previous status quo. Water fluctuations are one way the body does this. Brain tells body to produce and release that vasopressin antidiuretic hormone....more water is retained, and no weight loss noticed. Fat loss is still occuring, because ketosis is firmly established and appetite supression is in effect...but water retention is hiding that continuing fat loss. The body is preventing dehydration with this mechanism, and that's a *good* thing.
From the perspective of the scale, it can be discouraging. Which is why the mantra: Water retention masks fat loss (repeated frequently to oneself ) is helpful. Water retention will mask ongoing fat-loss for as long as the body retains the water. We can combat this by drinking more water.

So don't use the scale as an excuse to undermine your progress. Even when the scale is in a stall, fat loss can be occuring.
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That's really useful to know. It's nice knowing the sconce behind some of these things. And also encouraging to know that my lack of apearance change maybe purely be down to the fact that my cells ae full of water. Thanks for this information it's def made me feel a little better :)


Ready For Change!
Great info!
Ah Peony, thank you so much for that information. I'm having a bad couple of days with bloating, even though I am being really good with food & exercise. Now I can blame those little fat critters..I'll be patient and zap them to death over the next few weeks!
Great photos, by the way!!!
I'm going to tell a girl at my group about this. She was 100% abstinent last week and stayed the same. Poor thing was so upset. This will cheer her up! X


Ready For Change!
I'm going to tell a girl at my group about this. She was 100% abstinent last week and stayed the same. Poor thing was so upset. This will cheer her up! X
Thats exactly what im gonna do!


One last chance
This has perked me up a bit, I'm on Lite which I beleive to be a lot harder than Total, been following it 100% and I've been having some pretty lousy weigh ins, hopefully I'll have a better one this week.


Silver Member
Glad it has helped some people. I gained a pound today, now given that I have been eating 500 or whatever it is cals a day for weeks it isn't physically possible to have gained fat given i'd have to have eaten an extra 3500 cals more than I burned, still brought me down till i gave myself a good 'water weight' talking to!

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