Why The Weight Scale Does Not Tell the Full Story

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Tracking body weight can be valuable, but most people go about it the wrong way, which often results in frustration and confusion. Today’s post will cover why the weight scale doesn’t tell the whole story and what that means for you and your clients. Let’s dive in.

The Weight Scale: A Double-Edged Sword

Tracking body weight is necessary because it can provide valuable data. For example, if a client needs to lose fat, it makes sense to have them weigh themselves. Doing so will help you determine if the training and nutrition plan works.

The problem is that most people don’t weigh themselves the right way, which results in frustration.

A lousy way to weigh yourself is to do so sporadically, often more than once per day, and allow each weigh-in to determine your mood and self-worth.

The correct way to weigh yourself is to

  • Weigh yourself only once per day, preferably in the morning and on an empty
  • Weigh yourself at least four times per week
  • Writing each value down to 0.1 of a kilogram of lb
  • Calculating the averages and comparing them from week to week

Weighing yourself that way is necessary because weight fluctuations occur, and gaining weight from one day to the next doesn’t mean anything.

The only accurate way to determine if you’re not gaining or losing weight is by looking for
trends from month to month.

Factors That Influence Body Weight and Weigh-Ins


Consuming more sodium can lead to temporary weight gain due to water retention. In
contrast, reducing your sodium intake can cause your body to flush out more water, leading
to a sudden but temporary drop in body weight.


Your carbohydrate intake also influences your body weight. Once consumed, some of the carbs get stored as glycogen in skeletal muscle and the liver.

Each gram of glycogen is bound to three grams of water. So, if you bump your carb intake and store an extra 100 grams of glycogen, you’re also storing 300+ extra grams of water.


Alcohol has a diuretic effect: it promotes water loss through increased urination. So, if you go out and have a few drinks with friends, it’s possible to weigh less the following morning due to dehydration.

Menstrual Cycle

Women can experience temporary weight gain due to water retention as the result of hormonal changes surrounding their menstrual cycle. These effects are temporary and go away within a week.


The timing of your weigh-in can also considerably impact body weight, which is why we recommend teaching your clients to step on the scale only once per day. Weighing yourself at the same time each day is necessary for getting the most accurate reading.


As you can see, body weight fluctuates for many reasons. Just because you’ve seen some temporary weight gain (e.g., gained 5 pounds in a week) doesn’t mean you’re gaining fat and erasing your progress. The best way to work around the issue is to establish a consistent routine for weighing yourself to ensure the most accurate readings.


Alghannam, A., Gonzalez, J. and Betts, J. (2018). Restoration of Muscle Glycogen and Functional Capacity: Role of Post-Exercise Carbohydrate and Protein Co-Ingestion.  Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5852829/  (Accessed: October 1, 2022).

Fernández-Elías, V.E., Ortega, J.F., Nelson, R.K. and Mora-Rodriguez, R. (2015). Relationship between muscle water and glycogen recovery after prolonged exercise in the heat in humans. European journal of applied physiology,  Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25911631/ (Accessed: October 1, 2022).

Pacanowski, C.R., Bertz, F.C. and Levitsky, D.A. (2014). Daily Self-Weighing to Control Body Weight in Adults: A Critical Review of the Literature. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4846305/ (Accessed: October 1, 2022).

Rakova, N., Kitada, K., Lerchl, K., Dahlmann, A., Birukov, A., Daub, S., Kopp, C., Pedchenko, T., Zhang, Y., Beck, L., Johannes, B., Marton, A., Müller, D.N., Rauh, M., Luft, F.C. and Titze, J. (2017). Increased Salt Consumption Induces Body Water Conservation and Decreases Fluid Intake. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5409798/  (Accessed: October 1, 2022).

White, C.P., Hitchcock, C.L., Vigna, Y.M. and Prior, J.C. (2011). Fluid Retention over the Menstrual Cycle: 1-Year Data from the Prospective Ovulation Cohort. Obstetrics and Gynecology International, Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3154522/ (Accessed: October 1, 2022).

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