5 reasons why scales show inaccurate weight

Not every weight set is associated with fat! Here 5 absolutely normal and typical reasons why the figure on the scales can be higher than expected. Some of you will definitely be surprised!

Author: Sarah Wilkins

It happened that you stood up on the scales, looked at the numbers and thought: "How is this possible?" You were consistent in training, with a complete diet, but the scales show an increase in 1-1,5 kg! Something went wrong?

In ordinary people, the cause of unexpected weight gain is most often an underestimation of the calorie intake or a reassessment of energy expenditure in training, but you are certainly not one of them? You with religious zeal follow the diet, carefully weigh each portion, carefully calculate – and often underestimate – the daily expenditure of calories. Logic dictates that you must lose weight, and instead you gain it!

Before you panic or become discouraged, let's look at 5 reasons why the number on the scales may be inaccurate, or at least not reflecting the real state of things.

1. Fluctuations in the water-salt balance

Consumption of sodium (salt) has a significant effect on the amount of fluid in the body. Sodium draws water into the cells. If your menu had more salty food than usual, the body for some time delays the fluid to bring the water-salt balance into a state of equilibrium. In one controlled study, it was shown that this can lead to an increase in body weight of 1,5 kg.

But do not rush to open a diary of food and exclude from the diet all the salt. Keep in mind that sodium participates in vital processes, including maintaining the volume of circulating blood, in muscle contraction, in regulating the transmission of nerve impulses and the functions of the brain. It is important to control the consumption of salt, and not to exclude it completely. The minimum sodium intake is 1500-2300 mg per day and above, if you sweat heavily in training. For example, per hour of intense sweating can lose about a liter of water and 1000 mg sodium. This means that you need about 2500-3000 mg sodium to make up for the electrolyte balance.

To fluctuate the water-electrolyte balance does not distort the numbers on the scales, maintain sodium intake at a constant level, which corresponds to your needs, taking into account the intensity of training. Try not to weigh in for a couple of days after a copious intake of salty food or dinner in a restaurant, as most likely, the body weight will increase by about 1 kg due to fluid retention.

This may seem obvious, but if you have eaten well, or if you have not emptied the intestines within a couple of days, the arrow on the scales will creep up. That's why I recommend weighing in the morning, on an empty stomach and after going to the toilet.

If you suffer from irregular stools (regular bowel evacuation is considered 1 once a day), try adding a gram of fiber to the diet of 25-40 and daily drinking 3,5-4,0 liters of water. Perhaps it makes sense to poprinimat food supplements with probiotics. But the excess of fatty foods, dairy products (if you do not tolerate lactose) and vegetable fiber in the menu can cause constipation, so do not get too carried away by them.

Some prescription analgesics, antidepressants and antihypertensives can also cause constipation. Stool softeners and laxative teas can bring temporary relief, but if constipation has turned into a chronic problem, consult a doctor.

If for a day, or even for 2-3 days, before weighing you have exceeded the usual rate of carbohydrates, your body has accumulated additional carbohydrates in the form of muscle glycogen.

With each gram of muscle glycogen stored in skeletal muscles, the body delays about 3-4 grams of water. It may seem that the numbers are small, but they are summarized! In the muscles and liver of the average person can accumulate up to 500 gram of glycogen, and this is before the accumulation of fats begins.

Let's say you enjoyed a cake or pasta during the planned citmile, which resulted in a daily carbohydrate limit exceeding 300 grams. Suppose, all 300 gram went to compensate for muscle glycogen. As a result, the figure on the scales increased by 1200-1600 gram, and this is only due to glycogen in combination with the liquid. The mass of fat did not grow by a gram!

The mass of glycogen should always be considered. If you want the indicators on the scales to reflect the real picture, plan the weighing on the morning of the loading day with carbohydrates (before eating), or weigh at least an 4 day after the refeed.

A high level of cortisol can lead to sodium retention, which, as we already know, can retard water. To increase the level of cortisol can lead to various causes, including lack of sleep, stress, overtraining and extreme calorie deficit.

Another possible cause of water retention is an increase in the concentration of estrogens. This explains why women complain of swelling and water retention a few days before the start of the menstrual cycle. Weight in this case can increase by 1-2 kg. In other words, if you are approaching a new menstrual cycle, do not panic if the scales suddenly started signaling about weight gain, despite proper nutrition and constant training. Weigh in a week – everything should return to normal.

The level of estrogen may fluctuate during menopause due to estrogen replacement therapy. It has been proven that estradiol, a form of estrogen used to treat menopausal symptoms, can cause weight gain due to water retention.

In such a situation, it is better to put the balance aside and focus on how to train regularly, eat healthy foods and get the amount of calories necessary to maintain body weight.

5. Recovery after a hard workout

The syndrome of delayed muscle pain (DOMS) is manifested by severe muscle pain through 24-48 hours after a new or especially ruthless exercise. As a rule, pain grows during 48-72 hours after training, and passes through 3-5 days. DOMS is a consequence of microscopic structural damage to muscle fibers. It can be caused not only by strength training, but also by any physical activity. Went to yoga classes for advanced or played football? Do not be surprised if this leads to severe delayed muscle pains.

One of the side effects of such tissue damage is inflammation and swelling. Because inflammation is characterized by fluid retention inside and between muscle cells, DOMS may be accompanied by a slight increase in body weight. When the pain and swelling are gone, the weight will return to normal. Edema usually goes to decline in 3-4 days, but can persist up to 10 days.

So, weigh in better, at least, a week after exhausting training or unusual physical activity that caused the syndrome of delayed muscle pain.

These "problems" do not require solution

As you can see, many factors (besides burning or accumulating fat) can affect the numbers on the scales. I would not like you to study the list and start to exclude salt and carbohydrates from the menu, or drastically reduce the intensity of training. On the contrary, I just want you to understand that the scores on the scales do not always reflect the real state of things!

If you are one of those who follow weight with religious zeal, I recommend weighing only once a week, in the morning, on an empty stomach, after going to the toilet. As mentioned earlier, plan to weigh on the morning of the day of carbohydrate loading (before meals) or at least four days after refeed. Try the day before weighing do not eat too salty foods and drink a normal amount of water.

If you are sick or ill, if the beginning of a new menstrual cycle is approaching, do not take the numbers on the scales too seriously. And in general, look at the mass of the body as one of the aspects of the physical form – this is by no means the main indicator of your successes and achievements!


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