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Not losing weight?

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This is a question we are often asked!

Although the scales seem to be the easiest way of putting a number on your progress, they are not particularly reliable in telling you how much fat you have actually lost.

This article explains why.

Here is a summary of the article:
The first step is understanding.

Most of your body is water, and that is the number one thing the scales reflect. The scale cannot measure bodyfat, even the so-called bodyfat scales are very inaccurate.
So lets see what affects your weight.

Food has weight – .25lbs of beef weighs… .25lbs! When you eat less, you have less of it in your digestive system and the scale takes note. When you finish the diet and go back to maintenance, or any time you eat more food, that adds to your scale weight. It’s not a bad thing, just something to take note of. After a refeed – whether planned or unplanned – you may not see your prior deficit number for 2 weeks, even if you didn’t gain fat.

Electrolytes–Potassium, Sodium, Magnesium, sources. Etc.
Your body is designed to retain sodium and excrete potassium. Normally, in a healthy diet, the two should remain in balance, leaving you with a healthy water balance. When you, for example, overdo the sodium, you end up holding onto more water. That can give you a soft, puffy look and also cause inflated scale weight. Again, it’s not fat, even though it looks like fat. It’s easy to correct by laying off the salt and taking some lite salt or high potassium foods like beet greens, potatoes and tomato products.

All exercise, including weight training and even cardio, causes some muscle damage. That translates to inflammation and water retention that happen in the course of repair. Training also increases retention of glycogen (stored sugar that fuels your muscles), and glycogen is two-thirds water by weight. All that can translate to a scale increase, even while in a deficit and losing fat. If you just started your diet and also began exercising anew, weight staying the same rather than moving down can be a tough thing to deal with, but also a really good sign that you are in fact losing fat.

Hormones: Dieting-induced cortisol and PMS
There are also hormonal factors for water retention. For starters, your water balance is governed by aldosterone. Drinking more water causes you to decrease aldosterone production, which tells your kidneys to release water in their filtering process.

Letting yourself go thirsty has the opposite effect, namely you start holding more water.

Stress hormones also increase water retention, and dieting is stressful to your body. Caloric deficit and cortisol levels tend to have a direct relationship, and cortisol also causes water retention. When you refeed and flood your body with insulin, cortisol drops and so can water. This effect happens in many, but not all dieters.

Then for women there is PMS. In this case water retention is caused by temporary hormonal changes. Magnesium works very well in this situation, as does balancing sodium and potassium. Take a bath in epsom salts. Drink an electrolyte drink such as Ultima Replenisher. And above all, resist any urges to overeat as this is the worst time to do so. You won’t gain fat any faster than usual, but your body is primed for water retention so it will probably feel like you did.

Fat loss
As you are losing fat the body holds water in the fat cells until your body is certain it no longer needs that extra storage space. When you lose fat you develop a squishy, cellulite-y appearance. That’s actually good. It means fat has been lost and your body is storing water in an amorphous fashion, soon to tighten up.

Putting it all together
As you can see, scale weight is only a partial indicator of progress. So how do you make sure you are on track when the scale is all over the place?

Don’t freak out at weight fluctuations, they are completely normal.

Use other means to track progress, such as tape measure, progress pictures, and how clothes fit.
Have confidence in your plan. Follow it fully for a month before making a judgement call. Most people fail because they start doubting the program and give up too soon. Negativity and doubt are your worst enemy.
Look at the overall trend. If you lose 8lbs in the first 2 weeks, and now its week 4 and the scale hasn’t moved, you still are at 2lbs/wk average. That should already be above your weekly fat loss goal, for example, if your goal is 500 cal deficit/day = 1lb per week since 3500 cal = 1lb fat.
Realize that when you lose 10lbs the first few weeks of the diet it is not all fat, it is not even mostly fat. Resolve to stick to the diet for the rest of the way until it is all fat. Focus on following your program and the results will always follow.
Every day's a school day. Lots of stuff I didn't know there, thanks!
That's really helpful Caroline, thanks. :)
Very helpful. Thank you for posting.
thank you for this info i weighed myself today to see i havent lost anything for a week and a bit this is my fourth week on 5-2 i think after reading this i am going to get rid of the scales as i know my clothes and how i feel in myself its defo working but we get hung up by numbers (well i do) :lol: from now on judgement all the way as i want to stick to this way of life cause i dont find it that hard i keep doubting i am going to get the results others do !!!!!
ps can anyone tell me how to know what 100grms in veg is about cant work out ;) i been having half a med cabbage and colli and about 6 sprouts on fast days and giving cals of 150 is that way off? :oops:
Hi, if u don't have scales, then next time u are in the supermarket have a look at the fresh pre-packed veg they do ie carrot/cauli/broc. eg, the Tesco ones are 305g so u can get an idea of how much would be in half a packet. I think u might be underestimating tho probably not by much ;)
Hope that helps,


Dibbles69 wrote: thank you for this info i weighed myself today to see i havent lost anything for a week and a bit this is my fourth week on 5-2 i think after reading this i am going to get rid of the scales as i know my clothes and how i feel in myself its defo working but we get hung up by numbers (well i do) :lol: from now on judgement all the way as i want to stick to this way of life cause i dont find it that hard i keep doubting i am going to get the results others do !!!!!
ps can anyone tell me how to know what 100grms in veg is about cant work out ;) i been having half a med cabbage and colli and about 6 sprouts on fast days and giving cals of 150 is that way off? :oops:
Until today I had no idea that bathing in epsom salts could have any effect on my body. I'm prone to bloating on my feast days and am going to try it and see whether it helps...reading a bit about it online this evening I have seen some claims that it can detoxify and reduce bloating. Has anyone else ever tried it?
I am so glad I read Carorees advice on this, I put on 1 pound this week, I thought I was doing so well,i was quite disappointed although I am feeling great in myself since I started 5:2, lost the bloated feeling I used to get, very conscious of what I am eating, try to eat healthier on feast days now, I really enjoy having more energy and if I didnt lose another 1lb i would continue to eat this way as I do honestly feel great in myself.Fingers crossed I can lose a bit more menopause weight, next weigh in 22nd feb
Caroree's post has really helped me. I think I get a little bloated on fast days so even though I thinking I am drinking a lot maybe I need a little more water.

The stuff about losing fat is interesting and encouraging as my stomach looks quite squishy at the moment so I hope the reason given above applies in this case.

I weighed myself today and according to one set of scales was no different in weight from two weeks ago even though my clothes have seemed to be looser. The other set of scales showed a 1lb loss! And my % fat was lower by a tiny 1% so at least some progress is being made.
Thanks for this timely post. It seems that I'm not alone this week in gaining a pound even though I was following the program fairly well. I was suggesting to the wife that we try 4:3 instead of 5:2 for a few weeks, and also I was going to increase my exercise pace and duration and perhaps even start tracking calories on feed days until I read this.

Just a couple days later the 1 lb gain turns into a 2 lb loss, so it's a good lesson to not give the scale too much weight (ha ha) when trying to determine your progress. :-)
Thanks for your post BruceE, it really does help when somebody else has the same experience, I have never counted calories until I started this diet, but now I'm thinking healthier even on feast days, I still do have my treats, chocolate etc., but I am more careful not to pig out.I ddo my fast days on working days, so I dont go near the lunch room at all, I grab a herbal tea and go on this site, it helps to catch up how others are getting on
Glad i read this this morning. I have gained a pound in the last 2 weeks and not shifted it. Was getting a little worried. Going over in my head what i have and havent eaten, where i went wrong. I for 2 weeks on 5:2 the day after fasting i have weighed myself and i went down a pound every time so have been disappointed this last 2 weeks. However reading the post i'm encouraged and inspired to continue. I must! Onwards and upwards :)
This is happening to me too and very disheartening it is! Have been on 5:2 diet for 5 weeks and the last two have lost nothing! This in spite of getting ever better at not gorging on the eating days! This last week I was almost angelic and the scales even went up a notch. Am feeling gloomy and not hugely motivated now about the coming week's fast. Are others sharing this experience? Does it get better later? Shouldn't we all be admitting that you can't really eat what you like on the 'on' days - based on my 5 weeks, I would say that I am very far from being able to 'eat what I like' on those days. Everyone seems so positive about this diet all the time. A I e only one struggling - not with the fasting itself, but with disappointing results. And just for the record - the same is happening to my husband.
Hi there. Is it just the last two weeks you've not seen a weight loss? How much have you lost so far? Have you considered making a rough calculation of your feed day calories?

There are many reasons why you might not sere a weight loss, as shown in my original post. If you could give us a bit more information on your circumstances, we'll see if we can come up with some advice.
Thanks Caroline. I've lost about 6 lbs in 5 weeks but nothing at all in the last two weeks. When you mention counting calories on eating days, I have to say that the whole reason I opted for this particular diet, was precisely because I wouldn't have to do that! It's attraction was oly having to be careful two days a week. If I really have to watch all the other days too, it begs the question - why bother with the whole fast diet at all! In terms of what has been notable in the last week, I started back at the gym so maybe there's a link there.
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