Q. Dear Dr. Sears:
I get good results with PACE. I can feel the difference, but don’t notice much difference when I get on the scale. How do I know I’m making progress? Thanks, Bob R.
A. Dear Bob:
Your scale isn’t important. PACE is about fat loss, not weight loss. Getting on your bathroom scale every morning isn’t the best way to determine if you’re reaching your goal.
The best way to keep track of your progress is by measuring your body composition. Body composition measures how much of your weight is fat and how much is lean muscle mass. Men should have 10 to 20% body fat and women should have 15 to 25%.
There is little point in measuring more than once every two weeks. Once a month is usually enough for most people.
As you progress with PACE, aim to increase lean body mass and reduce body fat. The ratio of fat to lean body mass is your real measurement of health.
I recommend you keep a journal of your body comp measurements. I find that seeing your progress in black and white is a great motivator.
There are a couple of different ways to measure your body comp:
1. Electrical Impedance – This is not the most accurate testing method (calipers are better), but it’s easy. One version is a scale, similar to your bathroom scale at home. You enter a few numbers like your age, weight, etc. and it gives your body fat percentage.
Another version is a hand-held device that looks similar to a video game controller. Like the scale you enter a few numbers then hold it with both hands. After a few seconds your body fat percentage appears on the screen.
This method uses your body’s conductivity to calculate your body fat, since water-based tissues are good electrical conductors and fats are insulators. You can find both types on the Internet.
2. Skin Fold Test – This is the most accurate and easiest way to measure your body composition. Using skin calipers, you measure skin folds to determine your percentage of body fat. In less than 5 minutes, you can get a correct measurement.
You can get them at exercise equipment stores or you can order them on my website. They come with simple instruction manuals that will show you how to get a good read on how much fat you’re carrying.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD