Fact: Scale Weight is Misleading
Guest blog post from Amy Berger at Tuit Nutrition (www.tuitnutrition.com).
It’s time to talk about scales, and the role they should or shouldn’t play in your low-carb/keto life.
The dreaded scale. S-C-A-L-E. (Can a 5-letter word be a 4-letter word?) It’s downright tragic how a simple measuring device has come to dominate so many people’s emotions. Does the number you see there determine your mood for the day? Down a pound or two and all is well in your world, but up three ounces and all hope is lost?
Don’t let an inanimate object control your mental health!
Like any tool, a scale can help you when used wisely, but it can be dangerous if misused. Lets discuss some of the ways on staying sane while weighing yourself.
The first thing to know is that a typical scale tells you one thing and one thing only: your total bodyweight. It doesn’t distinguish between water, muscle, bone, organs, or fat. So your weight says nothing about the amount of fat you’re carrying. More advanced scales can give you a rough—rough—estimate of your body fat, but unless you’re using a finely calibrated and specialized model like you might find in a doctor’s office, it’s more like a general ballpark.
Second, your body weight fluctuates up and down a bit from day-to-day. These little blips are totally normal, and you cannot let them drive you crazy. You can be up or down as much as two or three pounds (0.4–1.4 kg) for a number of reasons, including water retention, environmental humidity, muscle soreness, and for the ladies, the menstrual cycle—none of which have anything to do with gaining or losing body fat. Don’t get caught up in these completely normal fluctuations. Pay attention to the trend over time.
Third, keep in mind that your scale weight sometimes goes up for good reasons. For example, if you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, and then on keto you start eating foods that give you more bone-building macro-and micronutrients than you were getting before (like protein, vitamin K2, calcium & magnesium), then you might be gaining much-needed bone mass. And don’t forget about exercise. Did you know that when you workout and stress your muscles, those inflamed muscles hold onto water while they repair themselves? Plus, if you start a weightlifting program or intensify one you were already following, you might be increasing your muscle mass, which, of course, has weight to it!
Above all, remember that even if your weight isn’t changing, as long as you keep the carbs low and get the nutrients you need, good things happen on the inside. Research has shown that low-carb diets can go a long way toward improving type 2 diabetes and even outright reversing metabolic syndrome without significant weight loss. That’s right! Following a low-carb or keto diet can lower your blood sugar, blood pressure and triglycerides, and raise your HDL even if you don’t lose a lot of weight. (Not to mention banishing brain fog, lessening joint pain, and getting rid of heartburn.)
But I know, I know. You’re reading this because you do want to lose weight. Or, what you really want is to change your size and shape. With that in mind, don’t rely solely on the scale. Use a tape measure to take your measurements once to twice a month. It’s not uncommon for your size and shape to change even when your scale weight doesn’t change much. (For women in particular they can go down a dress size or two with no change on the scale!) Weigh yourself if you must (some people do this for accountability), but pay attention to how your clothes are fitting, and if your rings are getting looser. These things can give you positive feedback and keep you motivated to stay on plan when the scale isn’t moving.
And do your heart and soul a favor: as much as you can, separate your scale weight from your sense of self-worth. What you weigh says nothing—nothing at all—about your value as a person. You are amazing and of great value to those who love you and God who created you. (A whole book could be written on this.)
Until next time, happy fat loss,