Weighing Yourself, The Right Way
Updated: Sep 26, 2019
This blog will talk about common errors, problems and best practices when using bodyweight as a metric of progress whether online training or personal training, including the dreaded 'weight plateau', and weight gain when dieting.
Measure bodyweight first thing in the morning before food or liquid.
Wear underwear if anything
(If needed), always wear the same bath robe / towel, and be sure that you and it are dry
Don't place the scales on a soft or uneven surface eg carpet, Lino, loose floorboards
Don't move the scales in between readings
Don't stress the individual reading on a particular day (more on that below)
A note on daily bodyweight fluctuations:
Many things contribute to the weight of your body including
-gut residue (yet-to-be-digested food in your gut)
-and at certain times, muscle glycogen.
Both water and gut residue can oscillate wildly (comment if you can name that reference 😉), causing as much as a 1-2kg change in weight from day to day.
Contrary to popular belief, your level of water is not solely influenced by how much water you drank the day before.
Levels of certain hormones, sodium and carbohydrate intake, stress, and phase of the menstrual cycle can all affect water levels.
Even in the case of a 1kg jump in bodyweight since the previous day, we know it is not physically possible to accomplish such a large change from fat or muscle, so we know this is mostly water, gut residue, etc.
This is how we know:
1lb of fat = opprox 3500 calories.
Therefore a 1lb jump in the scale, would mean overeating by 3500 cals.
Moreover, assuming you are already in a calorie deficit of say 500 calories per day, you would have to:
First eat an extra 500 cals just to reach maintenance calories (the number of cals required for you to neither gain nor lose weight),
Then eat the additional 3500 calories.
That's an extra 4000 cals required to gain 1 lb of fat
That is difficult to do, even on purpose.
The Take Home
Don’t worry about the bumps in the road, instead step back and see if you are facing uphill or downhill.
See graphs below which show different time periods for weight loss.
In the 1 week graph, an impatient dieter might be frustrated as almost nothing seems to be happening, or even seeing a rise in weight over the first 2 days.
This is the last week of all other graphs.
When you look at the longer graphs (pic 2 and 3) you can see that weight loss is happening at a steady rate, with lots of ‘noise’ in the readings.
Also notice how, if this dieter had weighed himself only at the start and end of that final week (pic 1), it would have appeared as though weight had been gained.
That can be potentially frustrating.
This is why it is best to get daily weights so that you can see just how sporadic they can be, and then disregard those individual noisy reading in favour of the trend line they create over time.
As with all things diet; patience, and a trust in the process will be required (pic 3).