Using nutrition to change your body composition – and why you can’t always depend on the number on the scales…

There are benefits to tracking your skinfolds and measurements when following a structured nutrition program. In this case study you can see how weight and body fat do not always align as you might think.

Even if monitoring your body composition is not the best option for you (and for many it is not!), this case study really highlights that the number on the scale is not always indicative of your progress.

Remain consistent, nail the basics and allow your self some time to enjoy your social life and you will see the results you are looking for. Also, if your goals are focused around body composition, then your consistency with training is also a key factor for success.

Case Study – male – 23 years old – lets call him…. Paul (this is a real client but not his real name of course!)

Paul’s Goal – reduce body fat while still being able to improve strength in the gym and perform well on the soccer field.

Dietary consults and body composition analysis via skinfolds were done roughly every 6 weeks since February 2019. Initial fat loss meal plan provided with calories sitting at 2000 per day with one revision of the plan done in May, pulling energy back to 1800 calories per day. Until this point, we saw continued progression so there was no need to reduce energy intake further for the first few months.

There are things that I always check with the client before continuing the with the current plan. Some of these include energy levels, hunger, fatigue, performance in gym/soccer/at work, healthy social life, variety of food consumed and presence of menstrual cycle (in females). If all of these are in check and the client is seeing results, we will continue with the plan as is.

Some important things to note; while Paul is very consistent with his diet, he also enjoys nights out drinking with friends about once a month and eating out for dinner about once every 3 weeks (where he doesn’t restrict). But he follows the plan the rest of the time and we have worked on pulling energy up around soccer games (morning before and after game).

Here are some of his stats:


February 2019 = 78.4kg

April 2019 = 76.1kg

May 2019 = 78.3kg

July 2019 = 76.4kg

Sum of 8 skinfolds (total body fat measured via the callipers in mm)

February 2019 = 73.8mm (Paul was relatively lean to start with)

April 2019 = 63.8mm

May 2019 = 62.4mm

July 2019 = 58mm

As you can see, even though Paul’s weight has fluctuated around the same 2kg since the beginning of the year, his body fat has continued to get lower over time!

Where to from here? Paul’s plan is to continue ‘cutting’ for another 6 weeks before commencing a very slow bulk to increase his muscle mass while staying relatively lean.

My hope in sharing this article is to really highlight that patience and consistency is EVERYTHING when it comes to manipulating your body composition.

Even for the everyday person who is just looking to lose a bit of body fat, remaining consistent with your plan (whatever that may be), majority of the time, while looking after you mental and social health is always going to get you to your goals… maybe just much slower than you would like!