If you’ve been around this community for a while you probably know how important I think measurements are. And you may have a good idea of how each measurement predicts changes in fat or muscle mass.
Now we can move on to exactly why I think this is so important.
Here we go:
Firstly, I use measurements to guide my fasting.
If your waist is over 50% of your height you can probably handle 24 hours of fasting once or twice per week.
Once your waist moves below this number you may need to shorten up your fasts to 20 hours, or maybe to fast only once per week.
The less fat you have, the less fasting you need.
However, it’s not only fat we are concerned about. Just getting skinny is a recipe for disaster. We want to lose fat, but keep or build muscle.
Luckily, we have measurements for that too 😉
If your thigh measurement or your shoulder measurements start to decrease (especially once you are below 50% waist to height), then you need to look at your workout program, protein intake and overall calorie intake… as this is indicative of muscle loss.
Remember – we want to lose fat WHILE keeping or even gaining muscle.
You can’t tell this stuff with the scale alone. But with the help of measurements you can start to get a really good idea of what’s going on with your body.
And you can adjust accordingly…
That’s really it.
You don’t need any magic, and you certainly don’t need years and years of reading science blogs to figure out health.
Your waist circumference is associated with many different hormone levels in your body, so yes, you can spend months and months reading about various isoforms of various hormones and how they affect your health, or you could spend the same amount of effort keeping your waist circumference low while optimizing your other measurements…
If your weight is going up while your shoulder and thigh measurements are going up but your waist is staying the same or going down, then you are likely gaining some muscle (Good job!)
If your weight is going up while your shoulders are staying the same or going down, and your waist measurement is increasing (along with possibly your thigh measurement) then you are likely gaining some fat.
Obviously there will be some personal fat patterns you have to account for (how much you store on your hips vs waist etc), but for the most part this is a really good guide.
Now I’m going to explain why this is so important to me:
For the majority of health research, circumferences are rarely accounted for…
So all those studies showing one diet is better than the other rarely, if ever, standardize for height, weight, waist circumference, fat mass and lean body mass.
And here’s my truth – the diet that is best for you is the one that allows you to keep your waist below 50% of your height, while keeping your muscle mass up for as long as possible while feeling as good as possible and enjoying the foods you like to eat the most.
I’ve read very convincing take downs of the idea that saturated fat causes cardiovascular disease. I’ve read fantastic articles on the benefits of carbs. I’ve read entire books on the evils of carbs. I’ve had fantastic conversations with very educated advocates of high protein diets. I’ve also spoken with people who make sound arguments for lower protein intakes.
I’ve read about the corporate corruption in research. I’ve also read about government ‘tinkering‘ in health policies….
I’ve read about ‘blue zones’ and longevity and how to live past 100…
The confounders in all of this?
Circumferences, height, weight…
Leanness and activity level make all of this so muddy, it’s blindingly frustrating.
….And you don’t have to be perfect, just try to get close. Not everyone will be able to have a waist that is less than 50% of their height, but the closer you can get, the better.
some people will EASILY get their waist below 50%, but have a tough time managing their shoulder and thigh circumference… everyone will have some sort of battle, I’m sure… But we are all aiming for a similar outcome – health in a body we are proud of.