Everyone’s done it. You’ve been working out, eating well, fitting better into clothes and feel like you are on top of the world – that is, until you step on the scale, and a number pops up that seems impossible.
Do scales lie? They must, right?
There are at least 10 reasons why the scale can fluctuate, and relying on body fat and physical measurements provide a much more accurate picture of where you are with your health goals.
Check them out:
1. Clothes. A complete outfit can raise the scale by more than 6 lbs (3Kg). The most accurate scale measurement is in your birthday suit.
2. You just finished running, a tennis match, etc. When you workout at high intensity, you burn glycogen calories (carbohydrate), which hold water weight. Many can expect to see a 5lb dip on the scale after something challenging like a spin class.
3. You chugged a bottle of water 5 minutes ago. A litre of water weighs 2 lbs (1Kg). If you weigh yourself immediately after drinking a bottle, the scale is sure to go up. Good news is that water has no calories, and within an hour, this weight will be lost through sweat and urination.
4. You went out for a drink last night. Alcohol dehydrates you and for many, can cause digestive system irritations causing you to lose 3 to 5 lbs (1.5-2.5kg). Bad news, it’s not permanent. Once you rehydrate, that weight will show up again on the scale.
5. You had a healthy, fibre-filled lunch. Diet-friendly foods such as broth soups and veggies are loaded with both fibre and water. This will add bulk to your stomach, and for the next 12 to 24 hours, bulk to your scale by up to 3 lbs (6Kg). Good news is it’s not fat.
6. You decided to go “Atkins” today. Carbs stored as glycogen in your muscles are like sponges that hold water. When you eat fewer carbs, you will hold less water at up to 5lbs (2.5Kg) if you go low/no carb for the day. Bad news, it takes 3,500 calories deficit to lose 1lb (0.5Kg) of fat, so if you lose more than a pound today, it’s a sure sign of water weight, not fat.
7. You ate a high sodium meal. Consuming Chinese take-out, soups or frozen meals can leave more than just your fingers puffy. Expect to hold on to an extra 4 to 5 lbs (2-2.5Kg) as well. Drinking extra water after a high-sodium meal will help to flush all the excess salt and fluid out quickly.
8. You’re sick. Its flu season and you caught this year’s strain. Between sneezing, coughing and an upset digestive system, you will lose up to 5 lbs (2.5Kg), nearly all because of dehydration.
9. You’re constipated. Having a bowel movement at least every other day is considered normal. Strict diets, skipping meals and restricting fluids can lead to constipation which can add 2 to 6 lbs (1-3Kg) to the scale. Ease constipation by increasing fibre-rich foods, water and exercise.
10. You are on a coffee high. Caffeine is a mild diuretic, it stimulates the digestive tract to promote bowel movements, and it can suppress your appetite. Put these three together and you may look 2 lbs (1Kg) lighter for the day. Once that water is replaced, the scale will go right back up.