How To Track Weight Loss on Keto: A Step-by-Step Guide

Knowing how to accurately track weight loss on keto is absolutely key for seeing your health goals through to the finish.

Most people don’t have much of a game plan when it comes to keeping tabs on their fitness progress, so this guide will walk you through the necessary steps to track weight loss on keto in an effective and reliable fashion.

You may also use the steps in this guide to track your muscle building progress on keto if that’s your goal.

Be aware that tracking weight changes on keto is more than just stepping on a body weight scale once a week. (At least, if you want accurate and reliable assessments.) 

As such, the best approach is to use both quantitative measurements along with qualitative measurements. For simplicity and practicality, this usually means regularly weigh-ins using a scale along with weekly progress photos.

Quantitative Measuresurements: How to Weigh Yourself Accurately

Weighing yourself is the simplest way to track weight loss on keto, as it provides a quantitative measure of how your progress is going.

However, you shouldn’t base your progress on keto solely on what your bathroom scale reads. 

Body weight tends to fluctuate significantly from day to day, which can throw people off (and lead to false-positives and vice versa).

Hence, having a qualitative method of tracking progress in conjunction with body weight measurements is key. (We will discuss qualitative methods later on.)

It’s crucial that you weigh yourself in a consistent manner each day; for simplicity, most people weigh themselves shortly after waking and using the bathroom. If you normally go “number two” in the morning, do that before you weigh yourself.

You can keep notes in your app/journal since your weight might go up if you get “backed up” (don’t worry though, it’s only temporary). Be sure not to drink a bunch of fluid before weighing yourself either.

Since your body weight will fluctuate on a daily basis, you want to weigh yourself daily and use the average for the week to calculate your weight.

Then, at the end of the week (Sunday for most people), take your daily weigh-ins and average the numbers (i.e. divide the sum of all weigh-ins for that week by seven). An example of how to track weigh-ins is given in the next section.

Things to Remember before Beginning Weigh-Ins

Before you start tracking your body weight using a scale, here are some important things to remember:

  • Muscle tissue is denser than fat tissue (this means a pound of body fat takes up more space than a pound of muscle)
  • Fat loss on keto is not linear; some weeks you will lose 3 lbs, other weeks you may only lose 0.5 lbs (staying the course and keeping the long-term in mind is crucial)
  • On average, a realistic weight loss goal on keto is 2-3 lbs per week
    • If you’re trying to build muscle on keto, 1-2 lbs per week is a reasonable goal (particularly if you’re a beginner/novice)
  • If you’re very overweight, you may lose weight rather quickly on keto (sometimes upwards of 5 lbs per week)
  • You will have weight loss plateaus, but don’t let them discourage you. Keep going!
  • Don’t let daily weight changes mess with your mindset and goals (certain foods and drinks will cause you to retain more water and increase your body weight temporarily, but this is completely normal)

Weight-Tracking Applications

A variety of apps are available nowadays that help you keep tabs on your body weight. MyFitnessPal is very user-friendly, as well as Happy Scale.

You don’t need to use an app either, you can simply log your weigh-ins in a journal or a spreadsheet if you prefer. (You will need to do some simple calculations if you choose a manual method of tracking your body weight.)

It’s important to note that your daily body weight changes are not something to stress about. Instead, you want to put emphasis on losing weight consistently over the course of weeks/months. 

Thus, weighing in daily and then averaging the numbers every week is the most reliable approach.

Here is an example of how you to track weight loss on keto each week:

Day Week 1 Weigh-ins Week 2 Weigh-ins Week 3 Weigh-ins
Monday 180 178.1 176.2
Tuesday 179.7 178.0 175.5
Wednesday 179.9 177.5 175.3
Thursday 179.2 177.6 175.0
Friday 179.5 177.2 174.5
Saturday 178.9 177.2 174.6
Sunday 178.2 176.7 174.1
Average (in lbs): 179.34 177.47 175.03

 

Notice how this person’s body weight is in flux throughout the week – some days it drops, some days it increases.

This is why weighing daily and taking the average is the best approach as it gives you a more reliable look at what your actual body weight change is over time. 

Now, this is just the quantitative approach to track weight loss on keto. The next section will go over the most practical and effective qualitative method for tracking your progress.

Qualitative Way to Track Weight Loss on Keto: Progress Pictures

We can’t emphasize enough how imperative it is to use progress pictures as an adjunct to daily weigh-ins.

For some people, the thought of taking progress photos every week is a daunting one, especially at the beginning of a weight loss journey. However, you will only be glad that you took them after all is said and done.

After all, you want to be losing the right kind of weight (body fat), and weekly pictures can help you assess the quality of your weight loss.

Not to mention, many people will get a major confidence and motivation boost once they start to see the visual changes in their body. 

You don’t need to take progress pictures every day as you do for weigh-ins. In most cases, weekly or bi-weekly photos is plenty (your body can only change so much visually in such a small time period).

If you’re not familiar with what goes into taking reliable progress pictures, the following subsections will help you get started.

What to Wear & How to Take Progress Pictures

In short, you want to wear as little clothes as possible (obviously, you don’t have to be completely naked). For males, just boxer briefs are ideal; for females, a swimsuit or sports bra and underwear is best.

It’s imperative to capture as much of your body as possible so you can assess your progress all over.

If you cover up your body with pants and a t-shirt it will be hard to gauge what type of weight you’re losing. Remember, the goal for most people should be to lose fat, not muscle (lean body mass).

For a camera, you can use your phone or a digital camera. Use the timer feature and stand in the same area for each photo to be consistent with your lighting and backdrop.

Be Consistent

Consistency in this sense means that you should use the same location, lighting, camera position, time of day, etc. when you take your weekly photos!

If you change those variables every week it will skew your photos and make it hard to gauge progress reliably and accurately.

It might help to find a location in your bathroom that has good lighting and put a piece of tape on the floor that guides you where to stand each time you take photos.

Lighting Is Key

Photography is all about lighting; if you try and take photos in an area that is not well-lit, you can expect low-quality pictures (you don’t want to rely on the flash of your camera either).

Find a room that gets a good amount of natural sunlight or another area in your home that is evenly lit via light fixtures. The better the lighting, the more detail and quality you will be able to see in your photos.

Try and keep your photo area free from clutter to reduce any shadows that may appear in your pictures.

Work on Getting the Right Angles

Generally, you want to take at least three different angles each time you take progress pictures: Front, back, and side.

Be sure that you stand directly in front of your camera and use the self-timer feature if you don’t have anyone to help take the photos for you.

Mirror selfies should be your absolute last resort as they can produce funky looking angles that make you look bigger or smaller than you really are. 

What About Body Fat Analysis?

You don’t need to do body-fat testing on keto if you are tracking progress with weigh-ins and progress photos.

Nevertheless, if you want to go the extra mile and track your progress with body fat analysis, then there are many options, including hydrostatic weighing, bioelectrical impedance, or even just simple skinfold testing using calipers.

However, body fat analysis is somewhat unreliable unless you use the “gold standard” method – dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan.

A DEXA scan is the most accurate way to assess your body fat/body composition, but it tends to be costly and not as widely available. A typical DEXA scan can cost upwards of $300; if you have health insurance and a doctor’s order it may be significantly less.

Tracking Weight Loss on Keto: Takeaways

So, there you have it! It’s really that simple to track weight loss on keto (or muscle building, if that’s your goal).

Sadly, most people who begin keto don’t keep track of their progress much at all, or they only use their scale as a measure of progress.

Sure, having a quantitative measurement of your weight change is great, but don’t overlook the qualitative aspect of tracking your progress on keto; it’s ultimately what lets you know if you’re on the right track to achieving your goals! 

Remember:

  • Weigh yourself daily at the same time (preferably shortly after waking up)
  • At the end of each week, calculate the average your daily weigh-ins
  • In conjunction with weigh-ins, you should take pictures every week or every other week to assess the quality of your weight loss (or muscle building)

If you need help getting started on a keto weight loss plan, check out our Ultimate Guide to the Ketogenic Diet!

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Elliot received his BS in Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota and has been a freelance writer specializing in nutritional and health sciences for the past 5 years. He is thoroughly passionate about exercise, nutrition, and dietary supplementation, especially how they play a role in human health, longevity, and performance. In his free time you can most likely find him lifting weights at the gym or out hiking through the mountains of Colorado. He will also host the upcoming BioKeto podcast. You can connect with him on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/elliot.reimers) and Instagram (@eazy_ell)

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