5 Reasons Why You Should Put The Scales Away!
Ok, I’m being deliberately inflammatory. Weighing yourself definitely has a place in measuring your progress towards physical and aesthetic goals. Scales are cheap, easily available and can help some people with dietary adherence. Some studies have even shown that frequent weigh ins, as often as daily, can result in greater weight loss. BUT, it’s important that “weighing in” is not the only measure of progress you use for yourself or clients, and here’s why...
1. Menstrual Cycle
During the menstrual cycle, a women’s body weight fluctuates immensely for a number of reasons. It is not uncommon for women to gain/lose between 7-10lb through it and it is worth bearing this in mind when measuring progress! Studies have shown that during various phases of their cycle, a women’s retention of water, sodium and chloride increases. Not only this, but their appetite and thirst levels change depending on the menstrual phase they are in and the level of progesterone (a hormone shown to have an appetite stimulant effect) and estradiol (a hormone shown to have an appetite suppressing effect) in their system.
2. Hydration status
It goes without saying that your hydration status will effect your body weight, so much so that acute weight loss is used as a measure of dehydration in children! It is is not uncommon for athletes to lose between 6-10% of their body weight through sweat loss in challenging events. To put this in perspective, for a 100kg man, this would be a loss of 6-10kg! Morestill, it is worth noting that for every 1g carbohydrates you eat, you retain around 4g of water. Now that’s not a problem, (don’t suddenly cut carbs - you need them!) but it becomes clearer why weight loss groups or diets, whose focus is on reducing carbs, have such sudden, impressive losses.
3. Sodium and potassium
I won’t labour this point, high levels of sodium in your diet will result in water retention (among many other issues when left unaddressed, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, etc). This can be partially combated by increasing your potassium intake, which is easily done by adding more fruit and veg into your diet. A high sodium intake is not a long term cause of weight gain BUT if you are using scales as a measure of your progress, it is worth noting how you ate the day before. That late night Chinese takeaway, not going to help...
Several studies have shown stress can be detrimental to weight management. On a physiological level, stress sees an increase in the hormone cortisol in your body. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can act in the same way as Aldosterone. High aldosterone levels will increase sodium retention which will, in turn, increase water rentention! You can see how this is all related!
Outside of this, stress can, in some individuals, see an increased intake of hyper-palatable and easily accessible food sources.
5. Resistance Training
Following a resistance training programme, particularly for beginners, will see you putting on weight. It’s not muscle! I mean, it could be, eventually, but more likely then not, your weight gain is symbolic of your body storing more glycogen in your muscles. Glycogen is essentially the stored version of glucose (carbohydrates). We mentioned this before right? Store carbs = storing water!
So...where are we...
Use scales, they absolutely have their place in measuring your progress along with progress pictures, measurements, calipers, DEXA and multiple other strategies. If you are using them (and it’s not something you are going obsess about!) use them daily. Do it in the morning before eating or drinking, have a wee and be minimally dressed! If nothing, it’s important to educate yourself on the very natural fluctuations listed above and how these affect your body.