Should you be weighing - 5 Things That Skew The Scales
Should you be weighing?
Who gets sad when they get on the scales? After Christmas maybe haha but but seriously, weighing can really affect your mood for the day.
Thanks to Slimming World and Weight Watchers, there’s a powerful association with success and how heavy you are, which should NOT be the case. Your weight does not impact your self worth.
However, that's not to say you shouldn't be weighing.
Although the sad step is unlikely to reflect your main goal (how you look, how clothes fit, how you feel, performance are), it’s still a simple measure to see progress being made. If the goal is fitting in a dress then a drop in scale weight will still be fairly good indicator if you’re heading in the right direction. We also know that if you measure your weight you’re more likely to see results (1).
Are you unsure about how much to eat for your goal? Then download our free kcal and macro guide here.
More than just scales
This does not mean you should solely use as a determinant for success or failure, rather just another piece of a data to help you get results.
Are you also using photos if your goal is to look better, making note of how your clothes fit, are you taking measurements of your waist/hips or performance when you’re training?
Your goal will dictate which metrics to use and how often you should measure. Whether your goal is weight loss or a change in body composition, then measuring progress is more important than if your goal is to feel a little better. Don’t view these behaviours as something you are required to do forever, but only a way to get back on track, reach a desired outcome and gain a better under- standing of how well your diet is working.
Tracking progress with weight
Your weight is a simple measure to spot if you need to eat more or less. Try and weigh yourself at the same time (preferably in the morning) 3-4 times per week. At the end of each week, calculate your average by dividing the total weight by the number of days you have weighed yourself. Try not to worry about the number itself, use it only as a metric to help give you a better idea about how much you should be eating.
Although scale weight is an important metric to follow, you must be aware of some of the reasons for its fluctuations as it’s not always going to be fat gain/ loss.
Glycogen (carbohydrates) is stored in the muscle alongside water. Based on weight, the relation of glycogen and water in the muscles will be around 1:3 in favour of water. Considering your glycogen storage can be in excess of 400g, the associated water can account for a lot of weight. (2)
Resistance training leads to increased intracellular hydration (more water in your muscles). This will also affect scale weight (3).
Drinking more water will also increase hydration and the water you store in your body leading to an increase in weight.
Food in the gut, digestion rates and bowel movements (how much food passing through your body) will also impact your scale weight.
Menstrual cycle – Water retention and an increase in body water is a common symptom during the menstrual cycle (20), and in particularly during the late follicular and luteal phase which may lead to weight gain (21). Sugar cravings and a reduction in energy expenditure can also lead to a fluctuation in weight during parts of your menstrual cycle.
How to get around this
Take the number at face value - Use your weight as a metric of where you are now rather than a measurement of success or failure. This is only to help you adjust your kcals moving forward.
Weigh often - Weighing yourself once per week can be skewed by the above factors, whereas weighing 3-4 times per week at the same time builds a more realistic image of your weight.
Track your period - If you are a female athlete, track your menstrual cycle with an app like Fitrwoman to understand when fluctuations may occur.
Use other metrics - Photos, body fat, how your clothes fit and circumferential measurements are just as important as weight, if not more so when your goal is a change in body composition.
Are you struggling wight weight loss or hit a weight loss plateau?
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Find out more about how metabolic testing can help with your weight loss goals here.