Ditch the Scale! 4 Ways Scales Lie About Your Body

Posted in: Diet & Nutrition · Exercise
Susan Ohtake, Certified Personal Trainer

Susan Ohtake, CPT

The only time I really see my weight is at the doctors office. In fact, I don't even have a scale at home. Let me explain why you might want to think about ditching the scale.

A lot of the time, even after eating healthy meals and keeping at your workout, you're still going to gain weight.

It can be really discouraging.

That’s why, if I could get one message across to any of you who are discouraged about weight loss, it would be to ditch the scales.

They’re lying to you!

The number on a scale is NOT an accurate reflection of your fitness level or how healthy you are.

There are so many factors that can cause that number to fluctuate that have nothing to do with your success or failure.

The scale can be a part of measuring your progress in your fitness journey, but it should definitely be taken with a grain of salt. There are many reasons that your weight can fluctuate.

Understanding them can prevent your next freak out on the scale. Remember—it’s not all about the numbers. It’s about so much more.


#1 - They don’t account for temporary weight gain

There are a lot of ways that your diet can affect your weight on a scale. It doesn’t mean that you’ve actually gained weight. They just mean that your body is holding onto certain food components in different ways.

For example, refined carbs cause your body to produce glucose. Glucose turns into glycogen which carries with it about 3-4 grams of water for every gram of glycogen. This is what we usually refer to as “water weight.” Because of the way the nutrients are processed, the number on a scale can go up without meaning anything about your overall fitness.

This kind of weight gain is totally temporary. If you put too much stock in the number on the scale, you will tend to lose track of what really matters—your overall fat loss.

#2 - Your hormones can cause your weight to fluctuate

One of the worst things about stress is that it can actually cause you to gain weight. And I don’t mean weight gain from eating pints of ice cream. It can change the way your body processes food.

One hormone, cortisol, is known as the stress hormone. It responds to stress in your system, triggering a primeval instinct in your body to increase your weight in times of emergency.

Your period can also trigger hormonal weight gain. As estrogen and progesterone fluctuate, your body actually changes the way it burns and stores fat. More on this in the video below.

The frustrating part of all of this is that weight gain can make you feel even worse when you’re already down. It’s important to remember that your weight is not always under your control. It’s an important reason not to pay too much attention to the number on the scale.

#3 - Muscle weighs more than fat.

Sometimes, weight loss wisdom is just a bunch of bull. This is not one of those times. Muscle really does weigh more than fat! It's more dense (takes up less space, but weighs more!).

That means that you can be losing inches, getting skinnier, burning fat and still not have the number that you want because you're gaining muscle while working out.

Here's the thing though:

You can't be FIRM without muscle!

So, if your overall goal is to look fit (and not just look skinny fat), you need to add some muscle.

Instead of relying just on the scale, learn to measure yourself. This can help you get a clearer picture of how your body is looking.

#4 - Time of Day Matters

At the end of the day, you’re going to weigh more than in the morning. That’s because you’ve been consuming food and drink all day long.

To keep your head level about your weight, try to weigh yourself only in the mornings. It will be your lowest weight of the day.

Better yet, don’t rely on your weight to feel good about yourself. Remember, it’s only one small part of your total-body fitness.

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