Weight management is a day to day struggle. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or trying to gain weight, it’s a minute to minute, hour to hour battle with hunger, tiredness, dieting and exercise that will leave you feeling exhausted.
However, behind the constant exhaustion is a quiet and apprehensive excitement to see your progress and get your hands on some tangible results for all your hard work. There is an anticipation when stepping on the scale as you eagerly await proof your weight has improved. Some people might even do this daily.
However, weighing yourself so regularly can actually have a negative effect on your weight journey and here are a few reasons why you should perhaps think about skipping the scales 6 days out of the week.
When people hear that our bodies are 60% water, they tend to assume that this is always the case, that the amount of water in our bodies is constant. There’s a misunderstanding that our body (assuming we’re well hydrated) has a maximum level of water in it that’s always the same.
However, this is not the case; the amount of water in our bodies is heavily dependent on our diet. A carbohydrate heavy diet will see our bodies producing more glycogen – a short term energy source. It’s stored in our muscles to be used during exercise, this is why athletes ‘carb-load’. Simply put, for every gram of glycogen your body produces, it stores 3-4grams of water. This is why it’s so easy to put on ‘weight’ after a low carbohydrate diet; your body has very little glycogen so when the body has access to carbohydrate, it stores the majority of it as heavy glycogen and water in your muscles.
Similarly, a high salt / sodium intake is also connected to an increased water retention rate by your kidneys to expel any excess sodium. Sodium is incredibly common in our day-to-day diets and varying amounts in your diet will cause noticeable weight fluctuations between days.
You’ve not put on that much weight in fat, you’ve simply added water weight. This leads us nicely on to the other misconception about weight loss.
More weight does not mean more fat
Those that are trying to gain weight are probably more aware of this than most but those trying to lose weight often get caught up in the ‘numbers’ and don’t think about what the actual goal of the weight loss is.
The goal for losing weight is not actually to lose weight, the goal is to lose fat and that’s easy to forget. If you’ve lost 2kg in fat but gained 3kg in muscle mass, you might be disappointed if you only pay attention to the numbers on the scale. Instead pay attention to your body fat percentage in conjunction with the numbers on the scale. Body composition scales are available in many gyms and health practices, like these scales here. These body composition scales are a form of smart scale measure your weight and body fat percentage to give you a better idea of your weight loss / gain progress. They are far more suitable in this respect than your average bathroom scales and allow you to track your weight more accurately.
Wrong Time of Day
Thirdly, is the time of day that you measure yourself. Be consistent.
First thing in the morning, your body has not consumed anything for around 8 hours, is fully rested and a little dehydrated, possibly the lightest you will be all day. Compared to last thing at night, your body has been consuming food and drink all day, exercising and producing waste.
These simple changes in the time that you weigh yourself can have a huge effect on how much your body weighs. You may be alarmed at how your weight can fluctuate over the course of a few hours. The best course of action is to weigh yourself at a consistent time of day, usually first thing in the morning.
How often should you weigh yourself?
Contrary to the title of this article you can weigh yourself every day to day. There’s no harm in doing so.
You simply need to be aware of the above noticeable fluctuations in weight that your body experiences on an hourly and daily basis. If you’re not aware of the natural and normal variances, it can be easy to get disheartened and lose motivation with your efforts. Since you’ve carefully read this article, you’re well aware of how your weight can change. The more data that you have available to you, the better decisions you can make with your diet, exercise habits and responsible weight loss. Have you gained a kilogram today? You can look at yesterday’s diet and understand how it could have affected your water weight, without feeling disheartened about your dieting efforts – allowing you to make better informed decisions about dieting habits.
Focus on the overall trend of your weight, not the day to day numbers – having a wider view on your weight loss / gain will help you stay motivated with the long term hard work and the long term progress. It’s much harder to be upset about gaining 500grams in a day, when you’ve lost 5kg over the past few months.
Additionally, pay attention to how you look and feel, remember you’re not trying to lose weight; you’re trying to reduce fat, gain muscle and ultimately feel healthier. If you feel healthier, that’s all that matters.