For many, there is a reliance on the scales as a tool for conveying success; a few kgs lighter and all is well but conversely, if the numbers creep in the ‘wrong’ direction, we can feel demotivated and disheartened. Well, we believe that this notion is outdated and yes, whilst the scales do have a purpose and can be a useful too for measuring long term progress, they are not best used in isolation, for the plethora of factors that can affect your weight day to day. We want you to therefore take a positive, proactive approach to the scales and bear a few things in mind as you use them.
As mentioned, there are many factors that can play a part in a weight increase so it is important if you are tracking your weight on a scale, to do it weekly or bi-weekly as weight can fluctuate from day to day. Below are some factors to consider the next time you may be surprised by a rise on the scales.
One factor to consider is the food you’ve consumed the day before. Higher salt intake can cause increased water retention which will add pounds to the scales. Higher carbohydrate intake will replenish and fill glycogen stores which will again add pounds to the scales. The body will store 3g of water for every gram of glycogen stored. Around 100g of Glycogen is stored in the liver and the rest is stored in the skeletal muscles. The amount of glycogen a body can store will vary depending on the weight and structure of the individual; for example, if an individual could store 500g of glycogen this would translate to 2kg of additional bodyweight with the 3g of water stored per gram of Glycogen. The same applies the other way round, many will see a sudden drop in weight initially when they start a new diet (often low carb or keto) which leads to Glycogen stores being used by the body, stores depleted and a drop in body weight as a result.
Time of day and time of month
When using the scales make sure to do it at roughly the same time each day / week. Something as simple as weighing yourself before or after the loo or consuming that first drink or bite of the day can inevitably impact the weight shown. Be consistent with when you weigh yourself; pick a time first thing in the morning before you have eaten anything and be mindful of your routine around this.
For the ladies your menstrual cycle will also impact your weight. It is often the case that you retain more water during this time so be mindful of this and weigh yourself at the same time each month for a more accurate representation of progress.
Finally inflammation from a tough workout can lead to slight and temporary weight gain as the body works hard to repair damaged muscle fibres. So I may be partly to blame for those of you that come to my build or build and breathe classes and see a slight increase in weight the day after a hard class … thats my bad!
A couple of alternatives to using the scales or to use in conjunction to monitor progress include taking weekly or monthly photos to see visual changes, being cognisant of the way your clothes fit, or taking measurements with a tape measure. They all have their place in monitoring progress and your success. All too often the use of the scales alone only gives a snapshot of the hard work you’ve put in and could easily be offset day to day by one or all of the factors listed above.