9 Reasons Why Your Scale Could Be Fooling You
It’s that time again. The moment of truth. You step on the scale and by some twist of fate, you weigh four pounds more than last week.
But you’ve hit the gym every day. You turned down the free cookies at Kroger and the donuts at church and stuck to your diet plan. What should you do now?
The answer is simple. It’s time to hit the gym harder, cut back on carbs and up the cardio. Right?
A pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. Multiply that by four, and we’re talking about 14,000 extra calories you would have needed to consume in one week. That’s roughly 2,000 extra calories a day.
So if you know you’re meeting your goals day in and day out, what’s the reason that pesky little number staring back at you is higher than it was before?
Well, there are a few.
- Supplementation. Creatine is a widely praised product in the fitness industry. It helps with recovery, muscle repair, injury reduction, increased calorie burn, and strength in the gym. Its downfall…it causes water retention through drawing water to the muscles. Not all supplements cause you to hold water, but pay attention to what supps you take and changes on the scale.
- Sleep. Or lack thereof. Are you reading this at 2 a.m. when you’re getting up for work at 6 a.m.? The average adult should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep. If you’re slacking in sack, your body may be clinging onto water, too. Check your sleep schedule if the scales a bit off.
- Stress. Does planning the family Summer vacation have you wanting to rip your hair out? Stress is in direct correlation with your cortisol levels. High levels will have water lingering for days.
- Circadian Rhythms. Has your work schedule recently changed? Say you’re used to working 9 to 5, then are given the night shift. Your body may not be used to your new routine, potentially increasing blood pressure, throwing your hormones off and blood sugar control out of whack. When our internal “clocks” are off everything can be out of rhythm. Say hello to some new weight fluctuations.
- Convenience Foods. So you’re running late and didn’t prepare any food beforehand. You pop a Chicken Pecan Lean Cuisine in the microwave and get driving. It wasn’t homemade, but there’s nothing wrong with chicken and rice, potatoes, some fruit and nuts, right? Wrong! Processed, prepackaged and canned foods are notorious for causing water bloating. A sudden change in overall sodium intake and your body may freak out for a hot second. That doesn’t mean you need to freak about the scale.
- Gastric bloat. It’s Easter and you let yourself have a slice of bread. Okay, maybe two. But that was your Aunt Jenny’s homemade recipe. It wasn’t processed and it wasn’t prepackaged, and you ate two slices, not a whole loaf. What’s the deal? The ingredients listed in Aunt Jenny’s bread may be from scratch, but your body isn’t used to digesting it. You may find yourself rocking some extra water weight when introducing these from outside your normal meal plan.
- It’s that time of the month again. The time when chocolate becomes as valuable to us ladies as the Super Bowl is to every man in the country, the time when World War III seems much closer to home than we’d like. For women, during our periods, our levels of progesterone – a hormone vital for the beginning of a pregnancy – drop, leading to an increase in water storage. This isn’t to say you can load up on the Doritos and blame any weight gain on progesterone, though. Keep the diet – and the cravings – in check, and it shouldn’t be a problem.
- Glycogen storage. This sounds fancy, but what glycogen really is, is energy. When we diet for long amounts of time, we deplete energy storage. Our bodies need energy to perform well, so when we have a High Carb Day, we can replenish it. It takes one carbohydrate to equate to two water molecules. Roughly three pounds alone can be sugar (energy) stored in your body. Don’t beat yourself up, this isn’t a bad thing. No fat gain here, just all energy for muscle gainz (I had to say it, Gainz!).
- Inflammation. Had a killer workout yesterday? Now just the idea of moving has you picturing the walking dead. Water retention is also caused by soreness. Once again, not a bad thing. Your body is hard at work repairing your muscles for the another go-round. If you’re noticing a shift on the scale after leg day, it could be this.
There are a variety of factors that can swing the scale in the wrong direction. If you worry too much about the scale you could end up being disappointed with your results – ultimately affecting your overall progress.
Do me a favor…
Don’t be afraid to toss your scale to the curb if you’re not feeling it. I recommend using multiple methods of measurement. This allows you to track your progress more holistically and avoid disappointment.
Stick to your diet. Stick to your workouts. Stick to your sleep schedule. The scale is not – and never will be – the deciding factor in your weight loss journey. Trust the process and the results will come in time.
What’s the most inspiring method of measurement you’ve ever used? You can leave a comment and share your experience below.