Let’s Talk About Scales for Weight Loss [+Poll]
For most people, losing weight is hard. There are seemingly endless approaches on how lose it, and we feel bad when we can’t stick to those approaches.
Along those same lines, there is debate as to how helpful scales are. Should you be weighing yourself every day? Every week? How important is the number on the scale? Which kind of scale should I use? Why does my weight fluctuate so much when I weigh-in?
In this article, we’ll attempt to clear up some of the confusion surrounding scales, and perhaps help to lessen some of your stress around weight loss.
How Important is the Number on the Scale, Anyway?
Probably the number one frustration of those trying to lose weight is getting on the scale and seeing the number either stay the same or drop very slowly (sometimes painfully so), despite sticking to an eating and exercise plan.
The number on the scale is only one measure of success while dieting, and it doesn’t take into account body composition changes (which are, arguably, more important).
Body composition is the percentage of body fat vs muscle. As muscle is denser than fat, your weight might not drop, and it could even go up slightly. Instead of going by your scale weight, measure change based on body composition numbers (a personal trainer can help with this), or simply by how your clothes are fitting.
Measure your waist and hips with a tape measure and record the changes, and/or take pictures of yourself to assess progress. Remember, it is for this exact reason that BMI is not an accurate measurement of success.
Why Does My Weight Fluctuate So Much?
Another confusing piece of the scale puzzle is why your weight tends to fluctuate so much, even within the same day. Depending on the foods and liquids you’ve consumed, your weight can fluctuate up to four pounds in a day, and studies show that water retention in women due to hormonal changes also has a big impact.
Will Using a Scale Help Me Lose Weight?
While the number on the scale is not the only indicator of dieting success and/or health, being overweight does put you at risk for many diseases (especially midsection fat). Research has shown that using a scale to weigh in regularly and assess progress helps to facilitate success in dieting and holding yourself accountable, and that lack of weigh-ins has the opposite effect.
Research has shown that using a scale to weigh in regularly and assess progress helps to facilitate success in dieting and holding yourself accountable, and that lack of weigh-ins has the opposite effect.
Scales certainly can be a good tool to help you stay on track, stay accountable and stay motivated. While certain experts recommend weighing yourself every day, once a week might be better to reap the benefits of using a scale, without driving yourself crazy. Stressing daily about why the number on the scale isn’t dropping fast enough can lead to an excess of stress hormones, which can also lead to weight gain (not the goal).
When it comes to scales and how often to weigh yourself, it really depends on the person.
Some people find that weighing in every day works very well to stay on track, while others prefer once per week. Some people might find that they are more successful by taking pictures, measurements, body fat measurements and/or weighing in less frequently. Whatever works best to be the healthiest version of you is what matters.
It should be mentioned that if you have a history of eating disorders, using a scale could be a slippery slope and should be discussed with a trusted healthcare and/or mental health provider.
Regardless of how often you weigh yourself, be sure to always do it at the same time of day. It’s best to use your scale first thing in the morning.
Are Smart Scales Better?
Nowadays you have a myriad of scale options…it can seem overwhelming!
Many people opt for smart scales which can connect to your fitness band and help track your steps, activity minutes, weight, and BMI. Sometimes you’ll experience technical difficulties with these types of scales, but they can be excellent to let you know how active you’re being and encourage you to up your exercise game. Also, these scales save your stats so you can see your progress. Pretty cool.
For those that are technology-phobic, these are probably not the best choice, and sticking with a simple scale that displays your weight is just fine. Consider developing your own tracking method (even just jotting down your weight in a notebook), to keep yourself accountable.
What’s the Verdict?
As is the answer to so many health questions, whether or not a scale is best depends on the person. For some, they are exactly the right kind of motivation, and for others, they will discourage you. Staying motivated and accountable is important for everyone, but whether a scale is the right way to get there depends on you.
Whether you’re on a journey to lose, gain, or maintain your weight, Vitamin World is cheering you on. Browse weight support and management products today.
Rachel Fiske is a Holistic Nutrition Consultant and graduated from Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition in Berkeley, California. She is also a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Rachel focuses on issues of weight management, GI problems, hormonal imbalances, fatigue and more via a whole foods diet and lifestyle changes.