Do you get upset when you don’t see a shift in the scales? You’ve been working hard all week, making better food choices daily but still, there's been no shift in weight? Many people like you rely on the scales for their progress but get incredibly upset when they don’t see that number go down, often wanting to throw in the towel. If this is you or you know someone like this you will want to keep reading. I’m not here to tell you to throw them out because they can be a good tool but only if you know everything I'm about to tell you. I want to first cover the pros and cons of the scales. The Pros: The scales are a great accountability tool, let's compare it to your bank balance. Say you have a holiday coming up and you need to save £800 over the next 4 months. If you didn’t check your bank account or look at your savings for the entire 4 months you wouldn’t have a clue if you were close to saving the right amount or not. Imagine if you got halfway through the 3rd month and decided to take a look and see that you hardly saved a penny. Whereas, if you checked it daily or even weekly you would know how close you were and how well you were saving towards your target number. It’s the same with your weight, if you didn’t check your weight you wouldn’t have a clue if you were gaining or losing you’d just be guessing. "If you’re not assessing your guessing" Weighing yourself daily or weekly is a great tool to see how your progress is doing. Not only that but it keeps you accountable, just like your bank, if you checked it every day you could see where you could cut back on your spending. Checking your weight daily or weekly will help you cut back on your eating and help you identify if you're eating too many calories or not. The Cons: Scales are not the be all and end all, they also don’t give you the full picture they only tell you how much you weigh, not if you’ve gained or lost fat, strength or muscle. Your weight can fluctuate by a few pounds either way daily, most people believe this weight shift to be fat. The last time I checked fat wasn’t the only thing in our bodies that had weight to it. There are around 3436 - 3752 calories in an lb of fat, for these fluctuations to be body fat you would have to consume around 5000-6000 calories in a day which isn’t an easy feat (that's not a challenge by the way). On top of this, all of those calories would have to be stored as fat, which is impossible. So where does the weight gain come from if it’s not fat? Our bodies are compiled of fat mass and whats known as lean mass. Fat mass being all the fat in our bodies and lean mass being organs, muscle tissue, bones, blood, and skin. One of these will only fluctuate to any noticeable extent, muscle tissue. Muscle will fluctuate depending on the amount of glycogen and water stored within the muscle tissue and if the muscles have been trained. (Glycogen is our bodies preferred energy source which is broken down from carbs). For every gram of glycogen stored in the muscle tissue there is 1 gram of water stored along with it. The average westerner can store around 400g of carbs/glycogen in their muscles, someone who has trained for a long time and who trains effectively with weights can store more. Now let’s say you’ve been on a low carb or a restricted diet for a short amount of time then introduced them back into your diet. Once you start consuming carbs again you will be able to store around 300-400g of glycogen in your muscle tissue (the amount depends on how much lean muscle tissue you have) which results in you storing around 900-1200g of water with it. Once stepping on the scales this will show and increased weight of 1.2kg-1.6kg on bodyweight. If you were unaware of the aforementioned you would likely assume it to be fat when in fact it’s your lean mass you’ve increased whilst fat mass has stayed the same. So, if you have recently started weight training you will be increasing your storage capacity of glycogen in your muscles plus causing inflammation to them. This then causes you to hold more water weight in your lean muscle mass. Other factors for weight increase are: Menstruation: When women enter their menstruation there will be several factors that cause weight fluctuations. During PMS there will be bouts of the hormone progesterone decreasing whilst estrogen increases. This causes movement in cellular fluid, in some cases, this can account for 1-3kg of weight flux and that “fat feeling” aspect. Some women experience bloating during menstruation which is caused by gas in the intestines. This can cause menstrual cramps and influence waste through the bowels, this again can cause an influx in weight on the scales. The change in hormones can also cause a shift in metabolism, women can burn around a few extra hundred calories per day during their cycle. Women will often have higher cravings and appetite during this stage causing them to consume more calories resulting in increased weight. Moving away from menstruation, an increased sodium intake also causes an increase in scale weight, like glycogen sodium (salt) retains water. As you can see there are many ways in which you can increase your lean body mass without affecting your fat mass on the scales. An increase in muscle tissue is unlikely to cause weight fluctuations due to building muscle is a slow process. Someone new to training can build 1.5lbs of muscle per month with a high enough protein intake. Remember these are weight fluctuations (over a short period) if your weight isn’t slowly going down after a month or so (with fluctuations) then it’s more likely down to you not losing body fat. People will often tell you it’s because your building muscle which may be true, however, I’d like to point out you can gain 1.5lbs of muscle a month but you can lose 1-2lbs of fat per week. (Dependant on how lean you are). If scale weight does cease to happen over extended periods then you will need to address your calorie input or output to rectify the lack of fat loss. But remember scale weight doesn’t define you, tell you your body fat vs lean muscle, show you your strength increase or your change in confidence. If you have a poor relationship with the scales and you do get upset and frustrated when you see fluctuations then they probably aren’t right for you yet. Other great ways you can track your progress or accompany the scales are measurements. If your weight stays the same yet your waist and hip measurements are going down then you have nothing to worry about, you’re doing great. Taking pictures is THE best way to track your progress, scales only show how much your body weighs, measurements only show changes in inches but pictures show the whole package. Pictures show the change in your body shape, the definition increase in your body, your posture improvements, skin improvements, and confidence improvements. Pictures are a must in my opinion when seeking body changes. If you’re struggling to see any changes in the scales or measurements then there are 3 ways in which I can help you for free.
Free personal training - Come along for a week's free personal training in my fully private training facility and learn how to exercise and eat effectively for your goals. Click here to book in your free week. Download and listen to my podcast for free- I discuss ways in which you can improve your results by applying the simple tools I layout for you in each episode. Click Here to listen Download my complete beginners' guide to fat loss - This free guide will teach you what you need to know on how to lose fat and comes with a free training plan. Click Here to download.
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