When the scale sucks: 7 better ways to know if your nutrition plan is working. |

If you want to keep your new lifestyle clean and enjoy the health benefits that come with it, you need to know how to tell your body that it’s burning fat as fuel. If you don’t, you’ll be eating the same old crap day in and day out – and you’ll be basically sabotaging your efforts.

Despite all the science and all the number-crunching, we’re still going to be human and make mistakes. But dealing with blips, bumps, and curveballs- or in this case, the elephant in the room- can be frustrating. As we step on the scale every week, we are often left with uncomfortable feelings, whether it’s a number that doesn’t feel like it’s moving, or a number that doesn’t feel right.

We’re all guilty of putting the scale above ourselves. We’ve probably been led to believe that the numbers we see on the scale are the only ones that matter, and furthermore, that gaining or losing weight is all about calories in versus calories out. They’re not.. Read more about why is there so much conflicting information on nutrition and let us know what you think.

How can you tell if you’re making progress toward your fitness goals? Spend less time on the scale, for starters. Instead, concentrate on these seven superior signs of success. (While you’re at it, grab the four progress tracking sheets we’ve provided below.)

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“It’s the first time in 5 years that I’ve felt completely satisfied.”

I’d only been working with Mary, my nutrition client, for about 24 hours when she texted me that sentence.

She handed me her eating journal on our first meeting. It was full of pre-portioned, packaged low-fat, low-calorie meals that were heavy on carbs and chemicals but thin on genuine food and flavor. Mary had recently tried supplementing with more packed snacks—to no avail.

We came up with the following strategy: She planned to eat a fresh salad with chicken, avocado, and olive oil three days next week. Fat. Protein. Food that is actually edible.

“This is the first time I’ve felt full in 5 years,” I was told the next day.

Bam.

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Even though Mary hadn’t lost a single pound, this was significant improvement.

The bathroom scale rarely marks the milestones along your route to a better, healthier physique, as most experienced coaches know.

Our bodies are intricate. They alter in a variety of ways, many of which are invisible or subtle. We all feel and act differently, albeit we can’t always pinpoint why.

Small signals of development emerge and flower long before we lose any weight.

Those early signals of development, like the first yellow crocus poking through the snow, are incentive gold. They give us the confidence to persevere through the last days of winter—during the most difficult moments of altering our habits or acquiring new abilities, when the ice seems to never melt and our muscles never strengthen.

Being a knowledgeable nutrition coach is similar to being a knowledgeable naturalist. Being a client attempting to alter your body is akin to being an explorer in unfamiliar country.

Coach and client are looking for the first signs of spring thaw together, trying not to be mislead by the sensation that nothing is occurring because the ice hasn’t melted yet.

Here’s what we’ve learned from over 100,000 clients.

You must understand what modest sprouts of progress look like in order to attain your body transformation goals.

You must be aware…

…and how to keep track of them if you’re attempting to make a change.

If you’re a coach, you’ll know how to point them out to your clients.

Finally, and most significantly…

…and how to commemorate them as a family. We’ll go through seven techniques to tell if a nutrition plan is working in today’s article, the majority of which are more reliable indicators than your weight.

We’ll also provide you four downloadable, printable progress trackers from a brand-new bundle of assessment tools we use to help Coaching customers keep on track.

There are seven ways to tell if your dietary strategy is working:

1. You feel full after a meal.

Do you ever feel like you’re constantly hungry? For example, you know you need to “regain control,” but you can’t seem to “find the willpower” to close the candy bag or stop picking at your kids’ dinner plates?

The gut delivers messages to the brain about how much energy we’ve consumed as we digest our food, triggering satiation (the sense of fullness) and letting us know when we’ve had enough.

Unfortunately, it turns out that a simple bag of Cheetos is all it takes to undo thousands of years of gut-brain relationship developing.

With its high energy density and powerful salty / sweet / fatty / crunchy / creamy flavors, processed food signals to our brain that we’ve hit the calorie jackpot: It’s yours to eat till it’s gone! Stock up on supplies! You’ll have plenty of energy and nutrition to last for several weeks!

Of course, junk food never runs out for most people, so you’re left eating and eating and eating with no sense of satisfaction (and almost zero actual nutrition).

What constitutes progress:

You’re eating slowly as part of your new nutrition plan. Choosing natural foods. Making less room in your diet for packaged foods that pique your interest but never seem to satisfy.

Fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, beans, and legumes occupy new space in your body, replenishing you and assisting you in feeling fulfilled. They let your gut and brain know that everything is fine. We’re OK. We’re safe, comfortable, and well-fed. We can finally come to a conclusion.

Imagine feeling “full” for the first time. This is not a stuffed animal. I’m simply satisfied. You’ve had it with it and you’ve had it with it.

Your stomach and brain are both at ease. There is no need to be concerned. There will be no frantic pacing to the pantry. You’re just… finished. No need to be concerned.

Yes, all of this is possible. In reality, once your nutrition (and activity) plan is on track, you’ll start to notice this. It’s an early indicator of improvement that you can detect before you lose any weight.

(Quick note: This may not apply to you if you’re a smaller — and younger — guy wanting to gain muscle.) It’s possible that being hungry all of the time is a good thing. Continue to eat and lift heavy!)

Want to improve your ability to recognize your hunger and appetite cues? At the end of this post, you’ll find downloadable tracking sheets.

2. You have more stamina.

Perhaps you can’t recall a time when you weren’t fatigued. Your alarm is working against you. You don’t push the snooze button; you punch the clock to silence it.

You need a coffee and sugar boost at 3 p.m. to keep your eyes open, and by 8 p.m., you’re collapsing in your La-Z-Boy recliner in front of the TV. Your intellect is mushy, and your body is thick as molasses.

Perhaps you’re consuming too much processed food and sweets, or perhaps you’re using stimulants to borrow energy from the future.

Perhaps you’re deficient in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Even minor nutrient deficiencies, which are far more frequent than you might believe, can sap your vitality and make it difficult to concentrate. What constitutes progress:

You wake up one minute before your alarm goes off one day. Actually, your eyes are open. You’re even… kind of… happy?

To deal with your work email, you don’t need seven shots of espresso throughout the day. Even during the 3 p.m. accounting meeting, you pay attention.

You find yourself clambering up the climbing wall and slithering down the slide with your kids after supper when you take them to the playground. Back at home, your La-Z-Boy is lonely, and your television is turned off.

Instead of a fleeting rush and a crash, a solid eating plan provides you energy—consistent, steady, all-day energy. If you do it correctly, you will begin to see this over time. Occasionally, even before the scale needle moves.

What role do vitamins and minerals have in your energy levels?

The nutrients in fresh, healthy foods that our bodies and brains require to function properly can give us the sense of having greater energy. Instead of supplementing, try to receive these nutrients from your food.

  • Vitamin B1 & B2: We need thiamine (B1) to convert carbohydrates into energy (ATP). Riboflavin (B2) helps release energy in the Krebs cycle (the process by which our bodies generate energy).
  • Vitamin B6: The active form of vitamin B6, pyridoxine-5′-phosphate (PLP), is required for the conversion of the amino acids L-tryptophan and L-dopa into the feel-good neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which are vital for cognitive function and focus. Vitamin B6 is also necessary for the mitochondria (power plants) in our cells, as it helps to control the enzymes that enable us extract energy from food.
  • Vitamin B12 is required to protect and preserve the myelin sheath, which protects neurons and aids in the transmission of electrical signals throughout the body. B12 aids in the production of neurotransmitters and the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, which are your main sources of energy.
  • Vitamin C is required for the production of carnitine, which delivers long-chain fatty acids to the mitochondria for energy production. Vitamin C also aids in the production of catecholamines, a group of hormones and neurotransmitters that act as stimulants (such as adrenaline [epinephrine] and dopamine).
  • Magnesium is required for metabolic reactions, particularly those involving the conversion of food into energy. More magnesium appears to boost cognitive capacities, whilst insufficient magnesium appears to worsen cognition. Insulin doesn’t perform as well without enough magnesium in our cells, making it difficult for us to use glucose. Magnesium is required by many enzymes that aid in the conversion of food into energy.
  • Calcium aids in the conversion of fatty acids to energy and the modulation of ATP synthesis (our bodies’ fuel). Our insulin may not work correctly if we don’t get enough calcium, much like we don’t get enough magnesium. Insulin is a key hormone in blood sugar management, and it has an impact on our energy levels.
  • Zinc: Because zinc is a trace mineral, we don’t require a large amount, but we do require some. Zinc is involved in about 100 enzymes in our bodies, many of which are involved in energy metabolism. When zinc levels are low, we produce less insulin (which causes problems with glucose metabolism), and we have trouble metabolizing lipids (fats) and protein. We won’t acquire enough energy from food if we don’t get enough zinc, and we won’t be able to make proteins or muscle if we don’t get enough zinc.
  • Electrolytes—dissolved ions of minerals including potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium—help our brains function properly. To convey chemical and electrical messages in the brain, we must carefully balance our electrolytes and fluid (aka neurotransmission). We can keep that equilibrium if we drink enough water. Our brain (and our intellect) deteriorate when we are dehydrated.

Do you want to learn more about your energy levels? At the end of this post, you’ll find downloadable tracking sheets.

3. You’re getting a better night’s sleep.

Do you ever have those nights when you just can’t get to sleep? Or while you’re tossing and turning in a strange, psychedelic sleep-but-not-sleep state?

Coaching clients don’t always realize how fatigued and sleep-deprived they are because five hours of fitful flailing is the norm for them.

Stress, aging, hormonal changes, being a new parent, having too much light late at night, jet lag, and other factors can all contribute to poor sleep.

Nutrition and physical activity can also help. You may not be able to sleep properly if you diet too strictly, over-train (or under-recover), amp yourself up with strenuous workouts, or over-eat big meals late at night.

You may consume excessive amounts with alcohol and coffee. It’s possible that you’re not getting enough protein (to build the correct neurotransmitters) or vitamins and minerals (ditto).

Stress and bad eating habits may also affect hormones (such as cortisol, growth hormone, thyroid hormone, and sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone), all of which are necessary for good and peaceful sleep.

What constitutes progress:

You’re getting enough healthy stuff now, thanks to your eating plan, to generate the brain chemicals you require.

You’ve shifted to half-glasses of wine with dinner and ditched the afternoon espresso, thanks to your increased vigor. When it comes to dinner, it’s a lesser piece that won’t have you huffing and having nightmares about being chased by cheese.

To put it another way, your body is no longer in a constant state of chemical fear.

You suddenly seem to be able to unwind an hour before bedtime without difficulty. You stick to your sleep routine and fall asleep faster than ever.

Remember: Consistently sleeping properly is essential if you want to modify your body and enhance your health. And, heck, it’s just plain enjoyable.

What role does nutrition have in promoting better sleep?

  • Fresh, whole meals contain more fiber, protein, and healthy fats, which take longer and require more work to digest than the refined carbs found in most processed foods. This keeps you fuller for longer, balancing your blood sugar and other hormones that are necessary for proper sleep.
  • Tryptophan, an amino acid found in high-quality protein, is a precursor to serotonin, which is then converted to melatonin to promote sleep.
  • If you eliminate excess body fat, simply balancing your calorie intake can help you sleep better. (Because of heartburn, lack of mobility, sleep apnea, and other obesity-related issues, excess body fat can make sleeping uncomfortable.)

Check out our printable monitoring sheets below to see how your eating plan is affecting your sleep quality. 

4. Your clothing appears to be a little looser (or tighter)

This is the day. You reach toward the back of your closet for that item of apparel. You know, the one that only fits if you’re very dehydrated, wrapped in Saran Wrap, and holding your breath at the same time.

Wow. It’s appropriate. This isn’t one of those suck-it-in-and-suffer fits. But, like, it’s perfect. It makes me happy. It appears to be in good condition. No snagging fabric, strange wrinkles, suffocating collars, bulging buttons, belts, or bra straps.

Maybe you took out a different piece of clothing. The one that usually falls over your shoulders like an oversized beach towel draped over a coat rack. The t-shirt that won’t fit, the armholes that are too big, and a flapping curtain where you think your billowing pecs should be.

Wow once more. It’s not going to work. And that’s fantastic. Because your chest, arms, shoulders, and back are suddenly far too muscular. However, one part of the clothing is still flying loose: your newly trimmed waist. What constitutes progress:

Body fat is denser than muscle and bone. We often become heavier but smaller as we build this lean bulk (at least in certain areas).

If you’re a man, you might notice that your shoulders are broadening, your chest is expanding, your back wings are fluttering, and you’ve developed a new case of “hockey ass” from powerful glutes… However, your waistline is reducing.

If you’re a woman, your scale weight may increase but your clothes size decreases (and you pass your bone density scan!).

This is why, in addition to paying attention to how their clothes fit, we recommend that customers track the circumference of various body parts with a tape measure. To do so, go to the bottom of this page and download the Body Measurement Forms.

What is the difference between lean and fat mass?

Myofibrils are densely packed within muscle cells. When these contract with appropriate force, the body adjusts by producing more myofibrils and sarcomeres, increasing the density (and strength) of the muscle (assuming proper training and nutrition).

Bone is even denser, made up of complicated combinations of calcium and phosphorus, heavy elements that provide it strength, flexibility, and support in the face of the stresses we place on it. Protein is also found in large quantities in bones (mostly collagen-type proteins).

Adipose (fat) tissue is made up of adipocytes, which are cells that contain light, fluffy lipid molecules (mainly triglycerides). Fat tissue, unlike bone and muscle mass, has unlimited storage capacity throughout the body, so it will continue to increase if we overeat.

This means that muscle and bone are 18 and 33% heavier by volume than fat. It also means that your workout and nutrition plan can improve your appearance (and function) without causing you to lose weight.

5. You’re in a better frame of mind.

Have you been dubbed Stabby, Grumpy, Angsty, Miserable Cuss, or Party Pooper in secret? Is it physically painful for you to smile?

The concept of being “hangry” is so well-known that candy bar ads make fun of it by saying, “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry.”

When your brain is deprived of the nutrition it requires to keep you on a steady emotional keel and avoid crashing into the rocks, you may not be your best self.

What constitutes progress:

Good nutrition can help us improve our mental and emotional outlook in unexpected ways. Following are some of the things that Coaching clients have discovered as a result of continually improving their eating habits.

“I feel…

  • “More self-assured.”
  • “Change is possible in the same way that it is possible in the same way that it is possible
  • “I’m feeling a lot better about my decisions.”
  • “I’m more informed.”
  • “I’m more clear about my objectives and the way to achieving them.”
  • “It’s like I’m walking tall now.”
  • “I feel more mentally ‘on,’ clearer-headed, and less ‘fuzzy.’”
  • “I’m happier and more optimistic.”
  • “I’m more willing to try new things.”
  • “Motivated!”

These modifications are influenced in part by the experience of altering habits. When we try something new and succeed, it gives us a burst of energy that motivates us to keep going.

Our brains and bodies have the nourishment and chemical tools they need to execute their jobs—to regulate our emotions, generate our “happy neurotransmitters,” and send those cheery and soothing messages where they should go.

What effect eating has on your mood.

Because of the link between food, neurotransmitters, and blood sugar management, how we feel is heavily influenced by what we eat.

  • Sugar might make you depressed if you consume too much of it. Eating a lot of sugar and feeling unhappy were found to be significantly associated in a major study involving people from six different nations. This could be due to persistently high insulin, which causes mood swings as the body tries to eliminate the constant onslaught of sugar from the bloodstream.
  • Getting adequate omega-3 fatty acids appears to improve our mood. To get these happy healthy fats, eat more nuts, fish, and seafood (including salmon, sardines, mackerel, crab, and oysters). (As an added bonus, oysters are high in zinc.)
  • Too much vegetable oil, hydrogenated fats, and trans fats might make us feel bad. Our bodies have a hard time processing omega-3 fatty acids because of these omega-6 lipids. Low omega-3 levels have been linked to depression symptoms, being crabbier, and even being more impulsive. (This can lead to bad food choices, creating a vicious cycle.) Omega-6s may also cause inflammation in the brain, which might have negative consequences. Brain inflammation is associated to a variety of neurodegenerative diseases and mental health concerns.
  • Tryptophan intake is increased by eating lean proteins such as chicken, turkey, and fish. Tryptophan is a component of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that aids in relaxation and happiness.

Check out our downloadable tracking sheets at the end of this post to learn more about how nutrition affects your mood.

6. You’re stronger and more resilient.

Workouts may feel like a chore when you first start your eating makeover. Perhaps you’re weak, uncoordinated, and sluggish. Perhaps you get your dumbbells from the bottom of the rack. And you’ll be painful for a long time afterwards.

Then you become less sore over time. Getting out of bed is more of a “umph” than a “AAAAAUUUUGHHHH!!!!” You have greater zeal. Maybe another set! You think, jokingly, as if you’re suddenly bursting at the seams with beans. You scan the room for the next dumbbell to raise.

What constitutes progress:

  • Your muscles aren’t as achy as they used to be. Microdamage—tiny tears in muscle fibers—is caused by intense exercise and new movements, which must be repaired. This mending process is beneficial—it helps us become stronger, fitter, and more muscular—but it hurts at the beginning. Inflammation increases, and fluid rushes in to help heal the damage, causing stiffness and swelling. As you develop and provide your body with plenty of resources to rebuild, inflammation diminishes and the healing process accelerates.
  • Overall, you can do more work. You can do more things, more often, whether it’s running, swimming, or cycling longer distances; lifting more weight for a longer workout; scrambling up a higher and tougher wall; or playing an extra round of tennis or golf. Your recuperation and energy levels have benefited from good eating.
  • You’re more energized and recover faster. You’re once again providing your body with the ingredients it requires to do its job of making you stronger, quicker, better, and fitter. Your cells are taking in oxygen, excreting waste, producing more enzymes, and generally high-fiving one another.

Check out our downloadable tracking sheets at the end of this article to keep track of your progress.

7. It feels more like a way of life than a “diet” to me.

Diets are a hassle. They’re just another to-do on top of your already-busy schedule, and yet another monotonous, strict, unnecessarily convoluted task you can’t wait to get rid of.

When we quit—because, after all, it’s only temporary, right?—we’re right back where we started. It’s time to get back “off the diet.” Returning to processed foods means constant hunger, dissatisfaction, and weight increase.

What constitutes progress:

When you’re just… living, you’ll make progress. You’re in a comfortable, natural day-to-day routine that doesn’t feel like you’re “on” or “off” anything.

Eating healthily ceases to be a thing and becomes a way of life.

  • You’re drawn to whole foods by nature. Without even thinking about it, you choose the salmon over the hot dog. You say to yourself, “A fresh salad would be lovely,” and you mean it.
  • You’ve devised a strategy. Preparing meals ahead of time and having healthy backup options on hand has become a weekly ritual for you. You seek out difficulties and devise solutions for overcoming them.
  • You don’t make any more “mistakes.” To be clear, you still eat the birthday cake and Christmas cookies, and you might even devour the entire tub of movie theater popcorn. This is no longer considered “bad” or “guilt-inducing.” They’re just a fun side effect of living life. You appreciate them before returning to your usual diet of largely fresh, healthy foods. It’s not a huge deal.

Yes, this is also a viable option. It’s a natural and expected side effect of eating and exercising in a healthy and smart manner. And, regardless of what the scale says, it’s a sign of progress.

What to Do Next: Some Suggestions from the Experts

Here are some strategies to start breaking free from the scale if you’re weary of being a slave to it.

1. Don’t subtract; instead, add.

When you’re on a “diet,” every day feels like a fresh effort to stay away from the “bad foods.” Let’s have a look at the other side of the coin. Don’t subtract; instead, add.

  • Don’t try to “avoid” eating “junk food.”
  • Don’t try to “avoid” premade meals.
  • Don’t try to “avoid” dessert.

Simply increase the amount of nutritious foods you consume—water, lean protein, fresh fruits and vegetables—so that you have less room or desire for foods that do not support your goals.

And, at first, focus on the benefits rather than the drawbacks. As if it were muscle. Strength. Confidence. Energy. Sanity.

2. Track your improvement and be proud of it.

Look for indicators of improvement in unexpected places. Everything matters, no matter how insignificant.

Keep an eye on them.

Celebrate them like the first crocus of spring.

3. Pay attention to the details.

Make a series of mini-goals. If you wish, you may call them nano-goals.

For the time being. For the entire week. This will last for the following five minutes. Whatever it takes to keep on track and confident in your abilities.

Reward yourself every time you achieve one of those small goals (in a healthy way).

4. Print, use, and distribute.

To make it easier to track your progress, print out these useful progress trackers from the newly updated Level 1 Certification. There is no need for a scale.

I strongly advise health and fitness professionals to share these with their clientele.

5. Enlist the help of a coach to encourage and congratulate you on your achievements.

Working toward your body transformation goal with the guidance of an experienced nutrition coach is often a lot easier (and always a lot more fun). Consider obtaining some extra help if you’ve been trying to make progress for a while but aren’t seeing any results.

With the proper person on your side, you’ll be able to build more effective change tactics, spot progress indicators, and keep the motivation you need to go to the finish line.

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If you’re a coach or wish to be one…

It’s both an art and a science to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy food and lifestyle adjustments in a way that’s tailored to their individual body, tastes, and circumstances.

Consider the Level 1 Certification if you want to learn more about both.

Most people are worried about the scale. They obsess over their weight, and try to lose weight through diet and exercise. Those of you who have had success with weight loss know that it’s not just the scale that counts. The scale often doesn’t measure true weight loss. It can fluctuate up and down, making you think your diet isn’t working, when it’s just your body changing.. Read more about precision nutrition behavior change and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my weight loss plan is working?

If you are losing weight, your plan is working.

How long does it take to know if a diet is working?

It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for your body to adjust to the changes in your diet.

How do you know if your nutrition is good?

There are many ways to know if your nutrition is good. If youre eating a balanced diet, and not over-eating on any one food group, then your nutrition is good.

Related Tags

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • why is there so much conflicting information on nutrition
  • how to know if your diet is healthy
  • precision nutrition meal plan
  • why is nutrition science so confusing
  • what is the absolute best diet

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