Using a weight loss tracker is a great way to see if you are making progress in your weight loss journey. Many people decide to set fitness goals at the beginning of the new year, with the intention of losing weight. Tracking your weight loss allows you to look back at your progress and feel encouraged. People decide to lose weight for many different reasons. Ultimately, feeling physical, mentally, and emotionally healthy is one of the primary drivers for people to lose weight. Unfortunately, there are many challenges that make a weight loss journey difficult. Losing weight requires a lot of hard work and dedication. A weight loss tracker is a perfect companion for the ups and downs of any weight loss journey.
This article will give an overview of weight and its clinical importance. This will include the different ways that weight is measured. We will also discuss the factors that determine weight. Finally, we will talk about the different ways you can lose weight, and how an app like CareClinic might help.
How is weight measured?
Typically body weight is measured in kilograms or pounds, by stepping on a scale. This provides the raw measurement for physical weight. However, there are also many other measures that convert body weight into a unit that can be used by doctors. Doctors can use these other measures to get a picture of a patient’s overall health. Let’s look at some examples.
Body fat percentage
Body fat percentage is a measure of overall body composition, or what makes up your body. Your body is made up of many different substances, including:
- Muscle (smooth, skeletal, cardiac)
- Tissues, which make up organs
- Fluids, such as blood and lymph
Body fat percentage is concerned with the amount of fat you have in your body relative to these other substances. Studies have shown that there is a standard, ideal amount of fat that is determined by sex and age. One of the major studies conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found the following guidelines (R).
|Health Body Fat Range for Women||21-32%||23-33%||24-35%|
|Healthy Body Fat Range for Men||8-19%||11-21%||13-24%|
Naturally, the amount of fat in your body increases with age. There are also differences between men and women, which can be expected due to differences in physical make-up. Interestingly, this study also found differences in body fat percentages between white, African-American and Asian populations.
Now that we know the recommendations, how might we measure our own body fat percentage? Below are some common methods for measuring body fat. Keep in mind that not all of these methods are available to everyone.
A skinfold caliper is used by doctors to determine the amount of fat just underneath the skin, in the area known as the subcutaneous layer. They do so by pinching a section of skin in certain areas, such as the back, waistline and back of your arm. Doctors can then plug this measurement into a formula to produce an estimate for your body fat percentage.
Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry Scan (DEXA)
A DEXA scan may be used to determine the amount of fat, bone and muscle in your body. This form of measuring body fat is very accurate and quick. The scan is produced by sending low levels of x-ray radiation through your body, providing a ‘map’ of sorts (R). This map shows the different areas of your body and whether they are made up of fat, muscle or bone.
Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)
A small electrical current is passed through the body. Fat will resist the flow of current more, providing more impedance. Muscles on the other hand will resist the flow of current less. You can buy scales that will do a BIA for you at home, so this analysis is very easy to conduct. However, the accuracy of this method will vary based on how much water you have consumed and your recent eating habits.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
BMI is a great measure for weight loss tracking. BMI is a measure of your weight that also takes your height into account. This is important because obviously, taller people are going to weigh more than shorter people. However, this does not mean that these taller people are more unhealthy. The BMI measure is therefore a great way to allow doctors to compare people of all heights across an even playing field.
How can I calculate my BMI?
In order to figure out your BMI, all you need to know is your height in meters and your mass in kilograms. The formula for BMI is as follows:
BMI = mass in kilograms/(height in meters)²
For example, if you were 1.74 meters tall and weighed 70 kilograms, your BMI would be
BMI = 70/(1.74)² = 23.1
How can you classify your BMI?
The CDC has set guidelines for what BMI is classified as underweight, normal, overweight and obese.
BMI < 18.5
|18.5< BMI < 25||25< BMI < 30||BMI > 30|
Looking at the table, if your BMI is less than 18.5, it is classed as underweight. If your BMI is between 18.5 and 25 it is considered normal. If your BMI is greater than 25 but less than 30 you are considered overweight, and if your BMI is greater than 30 you are obese.
The CDC has further divided obesity into three classes. Class 1 obesity is a BMI between 30 and 35. Class 2 obesity is a BMI between 35 and 40. Finally, Class 3 obesity is a BMI greater than 40. Class 3 obesity is also known as extreme or severe obesity.
Importantly, there are different obesity guidelines for children and teens. These can be found here.
What does my BMI tell me?
BMI does not define whether a person is healthy or unhealthy. Your overall health is a big picture formed by many different facts and variables. BMI is part of this big picture but is not the only thing that determines how healthy you are. Your doctor should take your BMI along with all the other health information you provide to make a judgment about your overall health. That being said, your weight and BMI are very useful measures that are important for many different medical reasons, as we will see. If you are worried about your BMI, ask your doctor what the best course of action may be for you.
Why is weight important?
Now that we understand how weight and other weight-related measures are calculated, we might want to know why weight is important for our health. Increased weight can have negative impacts on many different bodily systems. In this way, a weight loss tracker can help prevent some of these problems from occurring later in life. Let’s take a look at some areas of the body that are affected by your weight.
Weight and blood pressure
The most well-known link between weight and overall health has to do with blood pressure. If your body is bigger, the heart has to work harder to push blood around. Indeed, studies have shown that being overweight results in higher blood pressure, or hypertension (R). Over long periods of time this can put a lot of strain on the heart. After screening one million Americans, researchers found that those who were overweight had a 50% to 300% greater prevalence of hypertension than other participants. But why is this link between weight and blood pressure important? The answer is that blood pressure plays a big part in many different systems of the body.
Heart disease has long been one of the leading causes of death both in the United States and worldwide (R). Unfortunately, an overweight person has a much greater likelihood of developing heart disease because their heart has to work harder to pump blood around their body. High blood pressure can cause the outgoing vessels of the heart, known as the arteries, to narrow. This is a problem as the flow of blood is restricted.
When arteries have narrowed, a stroke can occur. A stroke happens when a blood clot, or blockage, restricts the flow of blood to the brain. The likelihood of a stroke increases with higher blood pressure and obesity.
Weight and blood sugar
Another well known link between your weight and your overall health has to do with blood sugar. Your blood sugar level is a measure of the concentration of glucose in your blood at any given time. After you eat a meal, your blood sugar level will rise naturally as your body digests the food. However if you are overweight or obese, you may experience problems with your blood sugar level.
Type II Diabetes
There is a strong link between obesity and the prevalence of type II diabetes. Indeed, it was found that about 90% of type II diabetes cases are the result of excess weight (R). The same study found that 197 million people worldwide have glucose intolerance. This can be attributed to the high-carbohydrate, glucose-dense eating habits of today. Obesity and modern eating habits have led to an increase in the prevalence of type II diabetes, which can have serious health implications in the long run.
These are only some of the ill effects that can result from excess weight. High blood pressure, high blood sugar, heart disease and diabetes are just the tip of the iceberg. But it is not all doom and gloom. There are many ways that we can prevent our weight from becoming excessive. There are also many ways to lose weight that we have already gained. Read on for some well-established weight loss methods.
Weight loss methods
There are many different factors that determine how much you weigh. Some of these cannot be controlled. For example, genetics can play a part in your body composition from birth. Also, you cannot control the environment you grow up in, nor can you prevent chronic disease or illness. However, there are certainly some things that you control in order to lose weight.
Boiling it down, weight loss for many people can often become a simple matter of calories in versus calories out. Humans gain weight when we consume more calories than we are burning. Eating high-calorie foods such as refined carbohydrates and sugars is fine in moderation. However, if your eating habits show a preference for these foods over other healthier options, such as fruit and vegetables, then you are tipping the balance of calories in versus calories out.
The kinds of foods you are putting into your body matter the most. However, it is also important to consider when and how often you are eating. Ideally, you should strive for three meals a day at regular breakfast, lunch and dinner times, with healthy snacks in between. Recently, diet trends such as intermittent fasting have become popular. While this diet may reduce the number of calories consumed at a particular mealtime, this can often lead to overeating at the next mealtime to compensate. Going hungry for long periods of time and then overeating in a short space of time is known as binge eating. Binge eating can cause your weight to fluctuate and is by no means a healthy form of weight loss.
On the other side of the coin, the number of calories you burn can have a significant impact on your weight loss journey. If you can control the number of calories you put into your body and also burn calories, you may be able to put your body into a calorie deficit. This is when the number of calories you burn exceeds the number of calories you are consuming, and is a major determinant of weight loss. Burning calories may sound difficult, but setting realistic fitness goals can help make this journey easier.
A staple of new year’s resolutions, joining the gym is a great first step in achieving your fitness goals. If you are not so familiar with gym equipment and the right exercises, then booking a few personal trainer sessions can be really helpful. Trainers have a wealth of knowledge for all abilities, and can really make a difference when trying to lose weight. Even if you cannot consistently train with a personal trainer, after a few sessions you will have a number of different exercises you can feel confident about using in the gym by yourself. The gym is certainly a great place to start working towards your fitness goals.
Walking and jogging
Burning calories does not always have to be intense and sweaty. Getting outside for a daily 30 minute walk or jog is a great way to stay consistently active. Weight loss does take time. But engaging in some form of daily cardio activity, whether it be walking or jogging, can help speed up the process. Many people find that these activities have an added benefit of clearing your mind and quietening your thoughts. Start with a walk around your neighborhood and build from there!
Often while playing a sport, you forget how many calories you are burning until you finish the activity exhausted. Sport is therefore a great way to exercise effectively, while also socializing with friends. Some sports that are great for cardio include basketball, soccer, tennis, badminton, flag football and ultimate frisbee. There are plenty of options out there for people of all ages and abilities!
Weight loss tracking
We have now discussed weight and the different ways it is measured. We have also looked at why weight is important for our health and some ways to achieve our fitness goals. Finally, we’re going to talk about a companion for your weight loss journey: a weight loss tracker. Using a weight loss tracker can be extremely useful to anyone trying to lose weight. The biggest benefit of using a weight loss tracker is that you are able to see your progress over long periods of time. Weight loss trackers can also help you figure out what parts of your routine are working and what parts are not.
CareClinic is a one-stop, check-in app for all your health information. Because CareClinic is not exclusively a weight loss tracking app, you will gain a much better overall picture of your health. However, CareClinic does have all the functionalities you would want from any weight loss tracker. If you prefer, we also have links to printable weight loss tracker sheets.
CareClinic’s nutrition section allows you to keep track of your daily eating habits. You can select from a wide database of foods. You are also able to specify the quantities you eat and the way the food is prepared. For example, when looking up ‘chicken’ you will be able to select exactly what cut, the quantity and whether you chose to keep the skin on or off. For even greater detail, you can also input the macronutrient details of your food. These are the total numbers of protein, fat and carbohydrates in your meal. This feature is particularly useful for elite athletes who are managing strict diet and calorie conditions.
This is a great tool for weight loss tracking as your daily reports will tell you how many calories you consumed. When comparing alongside your exercise activities, you can interpret your calorie in versus calorie out balance. CareClinic’s nutrition section is always updating and improving as we look to keep up with the evolution of food and food preparation.
CareClinic also allows you to input your entire workout regime. Use the ‘Search Activity’ tool to browse our extensive database of various exercises, sports and activities. You can get as specific as you would like, down to the number of sets and reps of each exercise as well as the number of calories burned. This can be done in the notes section underneath each inputted exercise.
If you prefer sports as your form of calorie burning, CareClinic caters for you too! Search for your sport using the ‘Search Activity’ tool. Then, you are able to select what level of competition you participate in. For example, if you search ‘Soccer’, you can indicate whether you are a casual or a competitive player. This level of customizability ensures that you are tracking your weight loss journey down to the smallest details.
Medicine & Supplements
The app also contains a feature to input any medication or supplements you may be taking to help you along your weight loss journey. You might be taking vitamins or other supplements to help you lose weight. If so, you can easily record what you are taking and the dosage. You can even set a reminder to help you stay on track so that you never miss a dose. The app also has a great feature in that it will let you know how all of your medications and supplements interact with each other. So, in the case that some of your medications do not mix well, you can speak to your physician to see how you might alter your plan to stay healthy.
CareClinic includes a feature that you will probably use the most when it comes to tracking your weight. The Measurement section of the app is where you can record all of your day-to-day details that are important to your weight loss. Here you can record your body weight, body fat, blood sugar level, blood pressure, etc. You can set timelines for when and how you would like to record your progress. Maybe you would like to record your weight every month and see how you are tracking from month to month. This way you can see if you are progressing in your journey and make any adjustments if needed.
Finding a weight loss tracker that has everything you need can be difficult. CareClinic avoids this problem by being more than simply a weight loss tracker. CareClinic provides you with a bigger picture of your overall health, while also having all the functions you may need when tracking your weight loss journey. However you decide to go about your weight loss journey, we recommend you have some form of social support behind you, to help when things get tough. Losing weight is never easy, but having friends and family behind you makes the journey much more bearable!