And Why the Scales Should Not Be Relied On
There is one simple thing that separates my approach to nutrition from most other “slimming clubs”. It is the lack of dependence on the (often dreaded) weekly weigh in to monitor our progress.
And for good reason. Scales are for fish!
To be serious, the scales are not the only way to monitor your progress. In fact, they can be quite detrimental to your progress if you attach your self-worth to the weighing scales.
If you are an emotional eater, then odds are you will have emotions attached to the weighing scales also. Those with a love/hate relationship with the weighing scales (you love to get on it, but you hate yourself when you get off it) need to stop weighing themselves. Immediately.
The Scales Is a Tool, No More
Now in saying the above, I am not suggesting to never use the weighing scales. But I am insisting that you learn to detach your self-worth from it. The scales can be used if you understand what they are actually weighing and if you can come to accept that this measurement will fluctuate every single day.
Let me explain.
When people say they want to lose weight, what they really mean is they want to lose body fat. A weighing scale is the most commonly used tool to track their fat loss progress. But it is far from an accurate way to single out the amount of fat actually lost.
The scale is merely a tool that measures your weight, which includes muscle and brain mass, blood volume, bodily fluid, stomach and bowel contents, and last but not least, body fat.
So just how accurate is a scale for gauging fat loss if it is measuring these other things at the same time?
The truth is, the scale is useless at weighing fat itself if it is used every day. Things go in and out of your body at different rates every day, which results in daily weight fluctuations.
It Is a Fraud
Your weight fluctuates over 24 to 48 hours, depending on a range of factors including:
what you ate and drank
the time of month
if you exercised
how often you went to the loo for a number one and/or two
The type of food you eat, namely carbohydrates, can cause massive fluctuations too. When you eat an excess of carbs that is not used for energy straight away. It gets converted to glycogen and binds to water and is then stored in the body.
On average, the body can store up to 500g of glycogen. For every 1g of glycogen, the body stores 3 to 4g of water with it. This equates to a stored weight of up to 2.5kg between glycogen and water.
On the other hand, if you eat less carbs, you use stored energy reserves. When the stored glycogen is depleted, you also lose the stored water bound to it.
That’s a 2.5kg (or 5.5 lbs) shift on the scales, which has nothing whatsoever to do with fat loss.
It is exactly this weighing scales trickery that makes people believe they have lost 7 lbs of fat in 7 days as a result of their new diet, cleanse or detox. When all you have lost is mainly stored glycogen and water.
It’s a fraud.
Constipation is another very influencing factor on scale weight. Same goes for the other direction. If you have a good bowel movement then you can lose up to 2kg, instantly!
Water retention and bloating, perhaps due to the time of the month, also show up on the scales. As do hydration levels. Sweating shows up as a decrease. Good hydration levels show up as an increase.
Another influencing factor that you might not have ever considered is inflammation. This can be due to injury or after a heavy training session, be it running or lifting heavy weights. The scales can go up if you weigh in the day after training.
Bearing in mind, this is entirely normal and necessary for the body to get stronger as it rebuilds and refortifies. Once again, this has nothing to do with your fat loss efforts.
Considering all the above, the scales are rarely a reliable indicator of your progress. Daily weigh-ins can mess with your mindset, lead you to believe you are making no progress despite your best efforts, and ultimately make you feel like a failure and a piece of poo. Pun intended.
What to Do Instead
The scale is not the only way to monitor your progress and it is certainly not for everyone. If you have become obsessive over the scales and it has the ability to control how you feel about yourself, then break up with it. For a while at least.