Are you working out, watching what you eat, saying “NO” to junk? We try and do everything right and sometimes need the motivation to say “NO” to moms fresh apple pie and “YES” to one more set of squats. We weigh ourselves everyday because we need that little bit of motivation to keep us on the good side of our nutrition and exercise plan. When the scale continues to move in the right direction it gives us the motivation to keep going BUT when the weight stops dropping we begin to wonder why and frustration sets in!
Weighing ourselves everyday is not the best idea because of the above situation. For example 1 cheat meal and we are up 5 lbs or we are 6 lbs heavier at night than in the morning. These changes frustrate us and are the reasons why most of us quit our successful nutrition and exercise plans. The following are a few reasons why the scale is not our best friend when it comes to weight loss.
1: “Weight” loss and “FAT” loss are not the same
Weight loss is much easier than fat loss and when we lose weight we can see this happening quickly because we could be losing a combination of water, a little fat and muscle. When we try and lose fat it take longer and a lot more work than just weight loss. A healthy diet will allow for 1-2 lbs of fat loss per week.
2: Large fluctuation in glycogen levels can cause large weight swings
Glycogen is the body’s immediate form of energy that we obtain from consuming carbohydrates. An interesting property of glycogen is that it can store up to 3-4 times its weight in water. This is why some people can lose 10 lbs per week and others can gain 5lbs after a cheat meal. If we are on a carbohydrate restricted diet we will see weight loss as we are restricting the amount of glycogen levels in the body and thus reducing the amount of water. Another tip to consider is that a cheat meal and 5 lbs gain is not fat gain BUT water that is stored by the increased glycogen!
3: You are retaining water due to sodium intake
Daily recommended values of sodium are anywhere between 1500mg- 2000mg, however sodium is in almost everything these days and it is so easy to go over those limits. But why does this matter?
When we consume additional or above normal levels of sodium we will most likely see an increase in weight. Does this mean all of our hard work is gone? No! It just means we are storing additional water and thus we see weight gain.
4: We are gaining more muscle than we are losing fat.
Whether we gain muscle or fat we will see an increase in weight and the scale doesn’t care which one we gain as it will show a higher weight. If we are just weighing ourselves we don’t actually know what we are gaining and this makes it frustrating.
For example if we look at 2 individuals with the same weight but one has a pant size of 6 and the other an 8 or 10… how is this possible? The individual with the smaller pant size will generally have more muscle and less fat than the person with the larger pant size. A lot of people say muscle weigh more than fat but I like to think they weight the same EXCEPT it takes up less space!
Take a look at our post on the InLine Body Composition to learn more about a better way to track your fat loss and progress.