Does Weight Watchers Consider Inches Lost or Just Pounds?

by Rob on January 22, 2009

It’s come to my attention that Weight Watchers does not track inches lost over the week, but rather focuses squarely on the scale, giving no credit to a gain in muscle. Does weight watchers understand or even promote an active lifestyle? and if they do, they simply MUST understand that a body building muscle is going to drop inches as it burns more fat, which wouldn’t register on the scale.

Imagine the psychological impact of a man or woman who’s been increasing their exercise frequency and intensity, watching what they eat, counting the points and proud of what they’re accomplishing as they get stronger, only to be totally discouraged at a weight gain a week later.

I Question The Weight Watchers Approach

Does Weight Watchers take into account an increase in muscle mass and a decrease in inches as a successful week? or is it just the reading on the scale that counts?

weight watchers inches or pounds

Muscle weighs the same as fat, let me be perfectly clear about that.

1 pounds of muscle is equal to 1 pound of fat, just as 1 pound of hammers is equal to 1 pound of feathers.

A pound is a pound.

However, a pound of muscle is more dense than fat and takes up less space.

As one exercises, he or she begins to stimulate the body to compensate for the work load and it does so by building more muscle. That muscle in turn is metabolically active, and begins to burn more fat, even while sleeping. As the body burns the fat, it becomes smaller in size because a pound of fat takes up more space than a pound of muscle. The body burns the fat as long as the body remains in a calorie deficit each day.

We shrink, yet it’s possible to weight the same, trading 1 pound of fat for 1 pound of muscle.


The scale wouldn’t budge, but your clothes might fit better or you might be able to do up the seat belt a bit easier.

If one was simply using the scale as a way to measure feedback about your exercise and nutrition, one might become discouraged. This is why measuring yourself either with a tape measure or through body composition analysis tests is so important. Body composition analysis’ can be performed at your local gym, either free with your membership or for a small fee. There are even special scales available to measure body composition, but they leave a bit to be desired in accuracy. Anyone can use a tape measure and measure themselves though.

My friend was quite discouraged when she learned that she gained a half a pound.

Her co-workers questioned her about her diet and that strange meal replacement stuff she’s been eating (and getting GREAT results on). The thought that she was the one who had been eating the best and been most active, so questioned her on re-evaluating her nutritional program.

She text msg’d me about the weight gain.

My first question to her was “what did the tape measure say”.

She told me that they do not take measurements, just the scale.

The Tape Measure Told A Different Story

weight loss weight watchersToday I learned that she was indeed down 3.5 inches on her abdominals and an inch on each thigh – she’s thrilled! She did the measurements herself as I’ve been coaching her all along to do. She’s kept track of all her measurements over the past 8 months or more.

After spending a few minutes on the phone with her, she understands now that all the exercise she’s been doing, the one hundred body weight squats she’s been doing every day, the Wii Fit and all the walking is beginning to build muscle on her body like never before.

I’ve NEVER seen her more active than she’s been since the beginning of the new year and she’s getting results. Not on the scale though, and now she’s armed with a response to her friends and the weight watchers representative next week. She now has proof that she’s getting results and will stick to her program.

So I wonder about weight watchers now. I did a poll about weight watchers results and if weight watchers really worked.

I do not have all the facts here to make a statement one way or the other. It may just be the group facilitator who is neglecting to take the measurements, or simply some bad training. Maybe it’s just in the interest of time to weigh this group and not measure, I don’t know. What I HAVE come to realize though is that a lot of people taking on a weight loss program do not understand the relationship between fat loss, muscle gain, and how it impacts the scale. It’s critical to know what you’re losing, because the perfect nutritional and exercise program should have one building muscle while they’re burning fat. For those with only a few fat pounds to lose, the scale may never even budge, but you would get the shape you’re looking for.

So I ask. Does weight watchers take into account that members who are exercising will be gaining muscle, loosing inches and staying the same weight? I posed this question on twitter and have not gotten any responses yet. Maybe you can shed some light on this for me. I welcome comments