TRACKING WEIGHT AS A FEMALE
Posted by Craig Brown
I see a lot of posts by ladies very disheartened at their weight loss , whether they have been eating well and training for a couple weeks and weight remains unchanged or its gone up 1-2 kg and you see them get discouraged and well-meaning advice like you gaining muscle or similar. This is not entirely accurate, as a healthy male doing everything right and eating a ton of food, gaining 5kg of muscle in a year would be regarded as an exceptional year. As a female eating in a caloric deficit trying to lose weight you can imagine this is not the case.
Now this is aimed largely at women with a normal 28 day menstrual cycle.
The menstrual cycle is 2 separate phases each phase lasting 14 days during the first week of the Follicular phase is your menses phase we then enter the second week of Follicular phase we see a sharp rise of Estrogen before we see a massive drop of Estrogen into the first week of the Luteal phase (this is ovulation) after which we see another smoother rise in Estrogen but now also a rise in progesterone and testosterone as we lead into the final week of the Luteal phase which is the dreaded PMS . All of these rises and falls in hormones results in weight gain and weight loss via water retention. Estrogen we know retains sodium so when it is at its highest we have water retention so as I described when is it at its highest? Weeks 2 and 4 is when you will retain the highest water and weeks 1 and 3 will be lower water retention as you will see in my example below.
Each of these phases as a distinct effect on your body (as I am sure you are aware) the early stages of the menstrual cycle you are more insulin sensitive and your body favours carbs as a fuel source at rest, the second half of the menstrual cycle you are more insulin resistant and your body favours fats as fuel and burns more fats as fuel during exercise than it did during the Follicular phase. Your metabolism and body temp increases during the last two weeks (the luteal phase) by as much as a couple hundred calories, as luck would have it this is also when the cravings hit during PMS, if you were clever about it you could safely now introduce some dark chocolate to assist in warding off a full blown binge and will have little effect on ones results.
onto tracking weight, as a female you cannot track weight weekly , you can only track weight every 5 weeks accurately and here is why (I like to work on weekly averages so you weigh daily and divide by 7 to give a weekly average this is far more accurate than picking one random day like a Monday)
Here is a hypothetical example of your average female.
Week 1 Follicular phase (Menses)
Month 1 75kg Month 2 74kg Month 3 73kg
Week 2 Follicular phase
Month1 76kg Month 2 75kg Month 3 74kg
Week 3 Luteal phase
Month 1 74kg Month 2 73kg Month 3 72 Kg
Week 4 Luteal phase (PMS)
Month 1 78kg Month 2 77kg Month 3 75KG
Can you see how you need to compare week for week not consecutive weeks? This is aimed at ladies who are doing the nutrition thing properly and aiming for a 1kg loss per week, so by that you are eating below maintenance calories to encourage fat loss only. If you are on some extreme fad diet and losing muscle water and drastic amounts of weight you will override the water fluctuations that happen. So this is aimed at those taking nutrition seriously and working on their weight in a progressive and systematic way.
You will still obsess about your weight but hopefully this has provided some insight so you can view your weight objectively instead of letting it rule your motivation and emotional state.