Are you looking for a way to track your progress toward weight loss? Taking body measurements is one of the most effective ways to measure how well you are doing. Knowing when to take measurements and how to take them can help you stay on track with your goals.
Table of Contents
This blog post will cover what body measurements should be taken to track weight loss progress, such as weight, body fat percentage, progress pictures, blood/lab values, and physical measurements.
We will also discuss the best time to take these measurements and provide tips on how they should be done correctly.
Finally, we will discuss tracking our progress through these measurements to meet our desired goal quickly and effectively.
Why listen to me?
I’m a registered dietitian nutritionist with a Bachelor’s degree in human nutrition and extensive clinical weight loss experience. I produce evidence-based nutrition content through my blog (Noah’s Nutrition), podcast (Strength Phase Nutrition), and social media. I also run the Lean Blueprint Community.
What to measure and why
Weight is only one metric to measure for weight loss. Therefore, it does not tell the whole story of your current situation. So it is essential to include other measurements as well.
These measurements can include body fat percentage (BF%), the circumference of different areas, progress pictures, and blood/lab values.
Your body weight represents the total mass of your body. It includes muscle, bones, fat, and other tissues making up the human body and water weight.
While it is an important metric, there tends to be a lot of variability in the scale regarding weight. This is due to water retention, food intake, and waste output, which fluctuate daily. (1)
Body Fat Percentage
Body fat percentage is an important metric to measure as it will give you an accurate view of your body composition. It will tell you what percentage of your weight is composed of fat, muscle, and bone mass. (2)
When people refer to weight loss, they are generally referring to body fat loss. Therefore when tracking your weight loss, having an idea of the kind of weight you are losing is essential.
Please note that this post contains affiliate links (clearly marked*). As an Amazon affiliate, if you click on one of the links, I may receive a commission, at no cost to you.
In addition to body weight and BF%, using circumferences measurements can help track progress. Measuring the circumference of your waist, hips, and other areas such as biceps & triceps can help you track body composition changes over time.
These measurements are essential because they give you independent feedback on your progress.
Take this as an example: When you weigh yourself after a week, the results may show no visible change. Though when measuring your body circumference and finding that it has decreased, you can be confident that progress is being made!
Progress pictures can be an invaluable tool when tracking your weight loss progress. Because weight loss is a prolonged process, it can be tough to notice changes in yourself.
Taking photos every week or two will help you identify and track changes that are not visible to the naked eye.
When taking progress pictures, it is vital to ensure that the lighting, background, and clothing are consistent each time. This will ensure that any differences you see in the photos are related to physical changes.
Lastly, I like my clients to take blood and lab samples every six months to once per year. You can look at this as a peak under the hood. (3)
Ensuring that your lab values are improving, or at least not getting worse, is a great way to confirm that your diet and lifestyle changes are positively affecting your body.
This data can also help you identify deficiencies or imbalances that may prevent you from reaching your goals.
Ultimately, tracking your weight loss progress should include more than just a weekly weigh-in. Try and include body measurements, progress pictures, and lab values to view your progress comprehensively.
When to take measurements
While specific measurements, such as weight, are best taken daily for accurate results; others may only need to be measured once a month.
Now, let’s delve into the optimal times to track each measurement.
To get the most reliable results for your weight, body measurements, and fat percentages – not to mention progress pictures – you should take them in the morning. Doing so will provide consistent numbers every time!
The only measurement that you will see a change in from day to day is your weight. If you’re looking for an accurate picture of your progress, weigh yourself before eating or drinking anything in the morning.
I propose calculating the weekly average to ensure a more accurate weight estimate. All you have to do is add up all your weigh-ins and divide that sum by seven!
Weekly progress pictures are a great way to monitor changes from week to week. Again another data point that will help you better understand your progress and changes.
Taking body measurements such as chest, waist, and hips bi-weekly will help you track changes in your body composition. If you can access a tape measure, I suggest taking these measurements every two weeks.
Tracking your body fat is easy with scales with a bioelectric impedance analysis. However, the reliability of these tests can be hit or miss due to hydration status. A monthly review of your body fat % can give you an idea of where you stand regarding body composition.
How to take body measurements
To take body measurements, use a tape measure and wrap it around the specific area. Make sure you’re not pulling too tight; keep the tape snug.
Renpho offers a digital tape measure* that automatically tracks and records your measurements.
Wrap the tape measure around your neck around the middle portion. Again make sure you pull the measuring tape tight but not too tight.
Wrap the tape measure across the fullest part of your chest and around your back. Make sure the measuring tape is under your arms, and use your nipples as a landmark.
Taken above your hip bones and below your rib cage. Place the measuring tape 1-2 inches above your belly button as a landmark.
Ensure the tape is pulled tight when measuring your waist without digging into your skin. Take a deep breath and relax before taking the measurement.
Wrap the tape measure around the widest part of your hips and buttocks. As a landmark, your measuring tape should be located right around your pubic area.
To measure your arms, first, locate the middle of your upper arm. This is the widest part of your biceps and triceps. Wrap the measuring tape around the area and pull tight enough to pull the
Wrap the tape measure around the fullest part of each thigh – To keep your measurements consistent, I suggest you measure the middle of your thigh each time.
Tracking your weight loss progress
Let’s now discuss the best way to set off on this weight loss journey, how to measure progress along the way, and review your success at its conclusion.
At the beginning of your weight loss journey, it is important to take your initial measurements, which include your first weigh-in, body fat percentage, body measurements, and progress pictures.
Also, during this time, I suggest you talk to your medical provider to ensure that you are healthy enough to embark on this journey. During this appointment, ask your doctor for a full panel blood test.
As you move through your journey, it is essential to note and document changes in measurements. I recommend planning regular weigh-ins, progress pictures, and body fat % readings so that the development can be tracked over time.
This allows you to set up achievable goals for yourself and track the progress you have made. A great tip is to get a notebook or journal so that there is a visual representation of your journey. – Check out the weight loss journal I made specifically for this purpose.
At the end of your journey, you’ll want to make sure that you document the final weight, body fat %, and any other measurements you have taken along the way.
Using these final measurements and comparing them to your initial ones can be a great way to see how far you have come and celebrate your success!
Tracking your progress is a great way to stay motivated regarding weight loss. By setting measurable goals and tracking your results over time, you’ll know how much progress you have made and be motivated to keep going!
I hope this guide has helped give you some insight into how to track your progress while on your weight loss journey. Good luck, and keep up the hard work!
If you have any questions or need help along your journey, feel free to reach out to me – I am always here to support you in achieving your goals!
Noah earned his degree in Human Nutrition – Dietitics through Metropolitan State University in 2015, he completed his dietetic internship in 2016 and obtained the registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) credential in 2017.
Throughout his career in nutrition, Noah has coached hundreds of clients in a range of industries to lose weight, build muscle and live healthier lives.
Noah specializes in helping people develop lifelong habits and skills that lead to a long and productive healthy life. Noah aims to provide evidence-based nutrition information through blogging, video, podcasting, and coaching.