Why You Can’t Trust the Scale
The fat loss foe.
The dream destroyer.
The confidence killer.
Otherwise known as…..THE SCALE. *cue the scary, neck hair-raising music*
You’ve worked your butt off, you’ve sweated, you’ve committed and you stepped on that scale and lost a measly 5 pounds in a month….GAHHHHH! What gives?
It mocks you as you hang your head, giving credence to each number as if they are the ultimate judge on your fitness progress.
You might feel like giving up-but don’t. The only thing you should be giving up is your loyalty to that scale. It’s a lying bag of metal and gears.
And….It could actually impede your weight loss progress.
To understand why you can’t trust the scale, it might help to understand just a little about body composition.
What is Body Composition?
Body composition is basically what the body is comprised of such as—fluids—like a lot of water, minerals, proteins and…yep– you guessed it—fat. The stuff we want to get rid of. The stuff we think the scale tells us how much of it we lost…
You’ve likely heard ‘muscle weighs more than fat’ and that is really important to remember. Especially if you’re working out, dieting AND weighing yourself. If you’ve done a great job in the gym, the scale may show less pounds lost than you expected because of the lean mass you’ve gained.
There are other factors that impact your weight which include:
- Water retention
- Time of day
- Whether or not you just worked out
- “Time of month”
- Last time you dropped the kids off at the pool
- What you ate last
- When you ate last
And so on….
Get this– some of these factors can add 5-10 extra pounds to the scale.
Annnnd…shall we say it again? Muscle weighs more than fat. If you’ve lost some fat but gained some muscle, you may see little fluctuation on the scale.
Does that mean you’re failing? Heck no!
But if you put all your stock in a number on the scale—you could.
Body Composition Measurement Methods
Other than the scale, there are other methods people use to track their fat loss progress that include calipers, water and x-Ray machines, Oh my!
Some tests include:
- Skinfold Thickness Using calipers, you pinch the skin in certain areas of the body to predict body fat percentage based on the measurements of subcutaneous fat.
- Body Mass Index (BMI) Is calculated by using weight/height2 . However, it cannot differentiate between fat and lean mass.
- Waist Circumference measures the waist for ‘abdominal obesity’ but that’s as far as it goes.
- Bioelectric Impedance (BIA) Sends a safe electric current through the body and measuring its resistance. The idea is that fat provides more resistance to the electric current and from that information estimations of body fat are made.
- Underwater Weighing (Densitometry In this test, people are weighed and then submerged in a tank of water. Formulas are then used to estimate body volume, fat and density. Because fat is less dense than water, a person with a lower body density would have a higher body fat percentage.
- Finally, x-Rays, CTs and MRIs are used, too.
Seems a little extreme—unless you have some medical condition, do the benefits outweigh the risks of getting x-Rays and CT scans or paying for an MRI?
So, if the majority of these tests are predictions, estimates or theories, what CAN you trust to let you know if you’re succeeding in your fitness goals?
What you CAN Trust
Take weekly pictures! The small daily changes in your body may be something you don’t notice every single day. It’s like a child growing. You don’t notice that inch a child grew over the course of a few months, but if you compare pictures, the evidence is glaringly obvious.
Snap some pics, keep a photo journal and when you start feeling like you aren’t progressing—compare and see the difference!
While water retention, hormones and ‘that time of the month’ may affect your clothes, you can certainly count on them when during your regular ‘bloated’ times, they fit looser? You’re winning.
Sometimes, buying a pair of pants or shorts one size smaller and trying them on as you go not only sets a goal, but when you finally fit into them—you can throw a finger to the scale that says you only lost 4 pounds. Not only did you gain lean mass—but you also gained new confidence. Go you!
Good ol’ Fashioned Measurements
Now these are the numbers that don’t lie. Measure your arms, waist, hip, thighs, and calves. If you’ve lost numbers there, but not on the scale—you’re winning, and if that scale had pants they’d be on fire. You have lost weight—you lost fat and gained muscle.
So there you have it. Stop relying on the scale to define your progress. It can easily derail consistent dedication with one bad reading. If you need help in your weight loss journey, review supplements with fat-burning properties to get you to your finish line faster.
If you’re trying to get rid of some fluff, or ward off winter weight, get a scientifically backed natural supplement that attacks multiple reasons for weight gain, and helps you burn calories, block carbs and burn fat. Get it here.