5 ways to know you’re burning fat, without using the scale

The scale is a terrible way measure how much fat we lose from day-to-day basis. There are dozens, if not hundreds of factors that can influence the reading on the scale, and with only 4 cups of water being the difference between being up a pound, or down a pound, the weigh-ins are a frustrating part of the journey.  So here are 5 ways to know you’re burning fat that don’t require a scale!

1) Your clothes fit better

This one might seem obvious, but the phases of fat-burn actually start with the fat being mobilized and removed, followed by water taking the place of the fat, followed a few days later by the water being removed from your system.  The water actually takes less space than the fat, so even if the scale isn’t moving, you may very well be burning fat, if you suddenly find that your clothes are fitting better!

The fat-burn process, followed by water, retention, followed by a release is often referred to as “The Whoosh Effect”, and it’s definitely worth reading up on!

It may also be worth measuring your arms, belly, thighs, waist, neck, hips, etc. at least on a weekly basis. Write down and log the results every single week. You may find that these areas continue to shrink, even if you’re not seeing the numbers on the scale move. (And as long as you’re getting smaller, who cares what the scale says?)

2) Your “fatty” areas feel squishier

The “Whoosh Effect”, mentioned above, will also make your previously fatty areas feel “squishier” right after the fat is mobilized, and water replaces the space that was filled by those cells.  This often results in a slightly squishy feeling in areas that were previously pretty solid. That squishy feeling is a sure-fire sign that the fat has been burned, and you’re due for a “whoosh” in the near future. So even though the scale isn’t moving (just yet), the fat is burning!

3) Your mood is off

Your body fiercely resists fat burn. From an evolutionary standpoint, those fat reserves are extremely valuable, and your body will fight you tooth and nail to remove those cells. For this reason, during the weight loss journey, many people report that their mood fluctuates wildly — feeling great some days, and not so great other days.

It’s worth noting that often times, mood-swings can be related to not getting enough fat in your diet.  But other times? Well, it’s just part of the journey. Hang in there!

4) Your breath (or your urine) smell terrible

The bi-products produced by your body when it’s forced to mobilize and burn fat as an energy source are released in the urine and the breath. You may not notice it yourself, but others around you probably will. Your breath (and probably your urine) will have a very distinct smell as you kick the fat-burn furnace into high gear.

It’s nothing a little Listerine won’t solve, and despite the nasty smell, it’s the smell of victory as the fatty areas are burned off.

5) You’ve got a positive ketone test

If you’re doing CarbX (e.g. a ketogenic diet), one of the tricks you can use is a “pee test” that will actually detect the ketone levels in your system.  You want the test to show that you’re in the “medium range” (too low, and you’re not in ketosis.. e.g… not in fat-burning mode, and too high is usually a sign that your liver is malfunctioning).  That “just right” zone in the middle is a guaranteed sign that your body is being forced to burn fat for energy.

(Sorry, MacroFit people, there’s no similar test on our side, since the traditional approach to weight loss involves a completely different bio-chemical reaction).

You can buy the ketone test-strips at any drug store.

None of the above happening? It might be a plateau

If you’re dealing with a real plateau (e.g. the scale hasn’t moved in 2+ weeks, and none of the above are happening), then it might be time to take a more pro-active approach to fighting back. Check out this article on what to do when the scale stops moving.