Losing weight vs. losing volume: why what the scale tells you does not even matter?

The tyranny of the scale is a thing from the past. Ditch the scale now and check your real progress instead of losing your mind and developing an unhealthy relationship with your body, food, and the scale.


Admit it, when you diet, the first thing you do every morning as soon as you wake up is to step on the scale and track your weight. Hoping that the number that appears on the screen will give you an answer you are looking for. Whether you are doing it right or not. But, in reality, that number does not matter at all, and today we will see why.


Your weight can change from one day to the next, you may lose or gain several pounds without meaning anything. The simple act of starting a diet and switching from an excess calorie to a calorie deficient diet will cause your body to start using up the glycogen it stores in the liver and muscles. This glycogen can weigh up to 300 grams, but there is more.


Every gram of glycogen you hold on to will take about 3 grams of water with it. Therefore, without losing a single gram of fat, you could be losing 1.2 kilograms of weight (300 of glycogen and 900 of water) without improving your physical appearance or your health. Thus, you will see no noticeable changes in your body.


We must add the percentage of a normal variation that a scale has because we do not always weigh ourselves in the same state. Let me illustrate this better with the following questions:


Have you had a big dinner? Have you gone to the bathroom before weighing yourself? Did you work out an hour earlier? Did you drink a lot of water? In what part of your menstrual cycle are you? All of these factors add up and can make the difference even bigger.

There are better options to measure your progress, here are some:

Although we normally take the scale as the main reference, there are other more effective ways of measuring ourselves, with less error percentage and taking more into account. Below are some of these:


  • The tape measure: something as simple as taking measurements of your body can help you get a real reference to your progress. Simply measure your hips, waist, arms, and legs circumference.
  • Your clothes: How do your clothes fit? Do those pants that didn’t fit in before now fit well? All of these cues are also a great ways to measure your progress.
  • Lipocaliber or caliper: It is very simple to use, cheap and if we take the measurements well, it will give us a real estimate of our fat percentage.
  • Photos and videos: in the end, when we diet, most of the time the goal is to look better – So, why not just take pictures and see how we evolve day by day. It does not matter what the scale says if you look better when comparing a photo from today with one from a week ago.


Don’t confuse “weight loss” with “fat loss”

When people want to lose weight, in reality, they want to lose fat. The problem is, people refer to “weight loss” and “fat loss” interchangeably, but these are very different concepts. Losing weight isn’t hard – however, fat loss is harder because it depends on many circumstances, and it takes more time than you think.


Here’s why you should not believe the scale

When you lose weight, you lose more than just fat. 

Fat, organs, skin, bones, muscle, and water make up your weight, and when you lose weight, you can lose any of those – from water, to fat to muscle to bone density, but most likely: water.


Glycogen levels cause weight swings

Glycogen is an energy source that our body uses when it needs energy. It’s a very good energy source, primarily found in carbs and sugars. Every gram of glycogen makes us hold 3 to 4 grams of water, this is why low-carb diets are so popular. People lose a lot of weight… water weight.


Sodium intake makes you hold on to water

Sodium is everywhere: buns, snacks, prepacked foods, sauces, drinks, etc. Sodium makes us retain water, so if your daily sodium intake is high, this will cause changes in your weight day by day.


Your muscle gains could be outweighing your fat

If you are lifting weights to build muscle, you may be lucky enough to be building muscle fast. Remember, muscle weighs more than fat, but it occupies less space. If you look at two women who weigh 60 kilos, and one of them has a 48 kg of muscle, and the other has 28 kg of muscle, they will look like two very different people.


You weigh yourself at different times of the day

If you’re weighing yourself without consistency, you will see different numbers on scale at all times. People’s weight increases throughout the day as you drink liquids and eat food.


Final Thoughts

Don’t let yourself be fooled by the scale! Especially now that you know there are many things that can affect your weight. So, if you were using the scale to determine your progress, ditch the scale and take progress pictures. The best thing about it? You’ll have something to show off in the future!

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