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I started strong-lifts 5x5 on almost a month ago, and while I do seem to be getting stronger, since I have been able to increase the weight every workout, I don't see any real change in my body composition as measured using bio-impedance.

My weight has barely budged: 256.6 -> 254.8.

My muscle mass dropped a bit and fluctuated but never got up to where it started: 33.9 -> 33.5 -> 33.7.

My body fat percent took a small dip then basically climbed up very slightly: 37.5% -> 37.1% -> 37.4%

There are fluctuations but not really outside of those ranges (except for weight which might go up to 258ish after a "night out/cheat day" then drop back down in a day or two.)

I was eating a consistent 2,000 kcal/day for the first week then realized I might need a bit more. A study showed good fat burning and muscle building at an 80% deficit, and other studies showed I needed more protein so I added cottage cheese to every meal so for the past couple weeks I've been at 2,500 kcal and ~148g of protein.

I use a Jawbone Up3 to track my calories burned in a day. On a Stronglifts day I'm usually hitting ~3,100 kcal burned and on off days I try to go for a couple walks and almost always hit 3,000 kcal burned. That should put the 2,500 kcal from my diet really close to that 80% range from that study.

The thing is I'd expect to see some kind of change, rather than this stability. For instance if I were eating too many calories I'd expect to gain weight be it fat, muscle or both. If I were eating too few I'd expect to lose weight be it fat, muscle or both.

Why does it seem like nothing's changing?

EDIT: Wanted to clarify my expectations. I'm not expecting to suddenly be in shape here, I just don't understand why the numbers aren't moving at all. For instance based purely on calorie deficit I should be down almost 4lbs instead of, at best, 1lb. Fat and muscle percentages should be changing, even the scale's documentation says to expect fluctuation and look at the trend but I'm getting an almost flat line. I'm not expecting miracles here, just looking for a difference. Even if it was in the wrong direction I could then react to change it.

  • There are a few glaring issues here (one of which Alec mentioned below). For starters you're using bioimpedance, which is one of the most inaccurate ways to measure body fat. It uses an electrical signal which will always take the path of least resistance which means so many things can through it off (electrolyte balance, water intake, etc). Second; the JawBone Up uses an estimation algorithm with heart rate as a parameter to determine calories burned, but that algorithm is based on cardiovascular exercise. – Alex L Nov 18 '15 at 22:06
  • Your best bet is to calculate your TDEE and then consume 10%-20% less than that to lose weight / fat. – Alex L Nov 18 '15 at 22:07
  • @AlexL A part of me is wondering if it's the scale. I have a decent amount of faith in the Up3 though. I "weigh" in the morning before I shower and my diet is pretty consistent to try and control for those variables. I can try to do the math and compare to the UP3's numbers though... planning to add more info to this later today. – CodeRedick Nov 19 '15 at 16:14
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"almost a month ago" - Almost? ALMOST A MONTH?!

I'm going to be harshly honest here; come back in a year, and give me the new numbers. If you can't stick with the program for at least a year, this just isn't for you.

In terms of health and fitness, nothing of value happens in a month. If it did, there'd be no fat people, and everyone would have rippling 6-packs and rock solid biceps.

Seriously, I want you to think about that last paragraph. Read it again. It makes sense, right?

Don't believe any article you read where someone makes any sort of meaningful transformation in a month.

Lather yourself up with some patience, and keep logging your changes. Over time - way more time - the numbers will start to deviate further from your starting point.

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    Try actually reading what I wrote. There's a big difference between seeing NO CHANGE and expecting "rippling 6-packs and rock solid biceps." I should have seen at least some change, even if it was small but I'm not. By the numbers I'm exactly the same as I was a month ago, and one way or another I think I should see a difference even if it was a negative one because I was screwing up. – CodeRedick Nov 18 '15 at 21:28
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    No, absolutely not. Any change you make in one month can be reversed by a single day of eating the wrong stuff. Hence the fluctuations. Don't expect anything in just one month. – Alec Nov 18 '15 at 21:30
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    Really? So a cumulative 15,000 kcal deficit can be completely erased by one day of eating 3,600 kcal because it was a cheat day? – CodeRedick Nov 18 '15 at 21:34
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    Well, in the sense that both 3600 and 15000 kcal are equally infinitesimal in the bigger picture, yeah. It's good that you had that deficit, and if you keep it up you'll have amazing results. But it doesn't warrant more than the 2 pounds you lost. – Alec Nov 18 '15 at 21:37
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    If your weight bounced back up, that simply means that there was no calory deficit between the first and last measurement. You have to keep in mind that gaining muscle mass means gaining weight (calories), the same way fat does. I suspect your assessment of not having gained any muscle is wrong. If you know you've lost fat, but not weight, then muscle must have been gained. – Alec Nov 19 '15 at 10:03
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1 month is not enough. I changed my diet in May and I saw pretty big results, but it took 3-4 months. But with that level of fat you have, I would say you should see something. Check your diet, not only calories but also % of carbs/pros/fat. I see big changes having dropped carbs, but there is no real way to prove this, you have to try yourself to see what % work for you (I'd say lower your carbs at least). Exercise is for many people really not enough, diet is what might make a difference.

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  • Percentages make no sense if you're counting calories. Your body does require a minimum amount of protein and fat to be healthy and function well, and that amount stays the same whether you're eating 2000kcal or 4000kcal a day. – Antrim Nov 23 '15 at 15:52
  • It makes a difference when it comes to fat vs muscle and if you consider that your body is much more complex than you describe. – kfk Nov 24 '15 at 10:08
  • Again, your body does NOT need 20% fats, 40% protein and 40% carbs. It needs X amount of fats and X amount of protein (depending on factors such as LBM and BF%), and from there you can add however many carbs you decide to fit or increase the fats/protein depending on the kind of diet you want to have. Using percentages is a very outdated way to measure your macros. – Antrim Nov 24 '15 at 10:37

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