Understanding Bodyweight Scales

Updated: Apr 30, 2021

Over the years I’ve really come to discover how big of a part the scales make to peoples choices and moods. I once was that person who would stand on the scales, complain, make excuses and think the world is over. Until I decided to do some research and actually get a good understanding of what the numbers on the scales were actually telling me..

For most people it is the idea that this scale is telling you if you’ve been doing good or bad, when in reality you know full well how your day has been, or the past week. If you’ve eaten well, been active and feel good then how is this number having such a negative effect on you?

The culture we are surrounded by is based on looks, people can say all they want that it’s not, but the fact is everyone really wants to look good which then leads to feeling good. Not always the case may I add but it’s a belief many of us have. The fact is the scales are nothing but your correlation with gravity in that moment at that point in the day.

What they’re good for?

Scales can be a great way to gauge your progress, learn how your body reacts to foods, ensure rapid weight gain or weight loss isn’t occurring as it can be unhealthy for most and to piss 90% of us off!

I discovered a long time ago not to get hung up these numbers and you should to.

Reasons why your body will fluctuate

The body is a very complex system and has many processes going on that can cause fluctuations. There are a few main things that cause weight increases and drops. Majority of them are based around how your body holds or removes water. This is why when people cut carbohydrates they get an initial weight loss; each gram of glycogen is bound to around 3-4 grams of water. Not to say that holding water in your body is a bad thing because it’s very important for daily function but just to understand this is not body fat gain or body fat loss. Its reduced water or increased water which leads to fluctuations in bodyweight.

Sodium intake can have a huge effect on weight gain or weight loss some reporting to gain anywhere from 3-5lbs by increased sodium intake. Most people should aim to keep their sodium intake consistent and try not to go over 2,300mg a day. Personally I’ve noticed this in myself during a depletion stage in prep that my weight can fluctuate between 1-3lbs. Post show I actually added 6lbs and this was mostly water due to increased sodium intake from pizza J Don’t worry though, drink water and drop back down to a healthy intake your weight will come back down.

So this can lead to another issue, inconstant water intake. Most people don’t have consistent water intakes and this can also have an effect on your bodyweight. Up to 60% of the human body weight is made up of water, if you’re in a consistent dehydrated state then drink more water you’re going to increase weight, this is just water weight not body fat and you must remember what your focus is around, body fat loss and not body weight. It’s just one of many gauges.

Fat loss and weight loss isn’t linear according to scales. This is a huge factor in understanding what the scales are telling you. I’ve never been or seen anyone go through a fat loss phase and not seen fluctuations. Your body is constantly changing, holding, dropping and increasing water and muscle. Let alone the fact glycogen stores get used differently daily as we have more and less active days. The amount of different factors that come into play are endless, if you’re focused on scales then please read into the information about these changes or feel free to ask me anything.

How to use the scales?

This seems like a bit of a silly thing to put but to get the most out of your scales it’s important that you make sure you’re consistent. Weigh yourself in the mornings after going to the toilet roughly around the same time, this will allow less chance for fluctuations.

Write your body weight down for each day and then calculate the average over the week and then compare that to the week after. Don’t focus on day by day as I said before if your body decides to hold some extra water or something then you’re just going to get annoyed. If you’re stalling with weight loss don’t be afraid to make adjustments. Personally I always focus on photos and not just the scales. This provides a clearer picture and means that I won’t make any unnecessary changes when the body is still going in the right directions and the scales tell me different. It’s not ideal to be cutting food or increasing cardio when me and my clients are actually getting results. With photos check them in comparison to every 4 weeks unless you have a good eye for it.

Hope this has managed to help a few people relax a little with the scales and given you an understanding of what’s going on. I really hope many of you can get a good relationship with the scales.

Any of your own experiences or anything you'd like to add please put into the comment section.



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