Alternatives to Measuring Scale Weight

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A lot of people’s lives are controlled by the scale.

They are obsessed with seeing the number on the scale go down.

In the efforts of losing weight, the scale is the gatekeeper to goals.


This is a flawed system.

There are too many factors that influence weight on the scale and it does not tell the whole story.

For starters, people are usually set up to fail because they arbitrarily pick a goal weight that they think is acceptable for them or one they had years ago.

Sorry, but most average adult women are not going to weigh 115 pounds.

And no, you are not going to weight the same that you did before you had responsibilities like a family, job, bills, etc.

Even if you pick a realistic goal with a good strategy I still would try to convince you to ditch the scale.

Some of the factors that influence scale weight regardless of your nutrition or exercise efforts are:

Stomach Content: The amount of food and water in your stomach will obviously make the scale weight go up. Your weight right after waking up will minimize the impact of this.

That does not take away the food/water intake from the night before. A late night dinner will cause a higher number on the scale in the morning.

Hydration: The water content of the body is something that can influence the scale.

Being hydrated is essential for weight loss and performance enhancement, but it will increase the number on the scale when compared to a dehydrated scale.

Carbs/Sodium: High intakes of these two foods will cause water storage in the body.

Again, this will cause a spike in “weight” after a day with higher intake of these two nutrients.

Stress: Work, personal life, training, and a lack of sleep are all things that can stress us out.

When we are stressed, we store more water in the body (there is a trend here).
More water storage results in disappointment on the scale.


Keep track of how stressed you feel or invest in a system that will do it for you. Bioforce HRV does the work for about 250 dollars.

In periods of high stress do the things that make you happy, whether it be reading, listen to music, watch a movie, etc.

These are just a few of the things that influence weight on the scale.

A lot of these things are sort of unpredictable too.

You never know how much water you are going to store after a bad day at work or after a late night.

This will cause daily fluctuations which will seem concerning, followed by promising, and then back to where you started.

Instead I like alternative measures of determining fat loss.

1. The Mirror Test

What does the mirror say about your fat loss efforts? Do you like the way you look?

You can look in the mirror and either be happy or dissatisfied with what is going on.

If you like what you see then the number on the scale is irrelevant. Conversely, unhappy results mean that something needs to change.

2. Pictures

This idea piggybacks the mirror test. Take “before” pictures when you start a new program.

Every 4 weeks or so (give yourself time to adapt) take new pictures and compare.

If you are making progress then continue what you are doing, if not then a change is needed.

Using the pictures can help you visually assess your progress. If you are looking better you are getting closer to your goal, even though a scale might say your weight went up.

3. The Clothes Test

How do your clothes fit? Are they looser around the waist? Tighter around the arms?

Depending on the individual’s goal the clothes can be the best indicator of progress.

For weight loss, clothes will start to fit looser or look bigger. It might mean you need to buy new clothes but that is well worth the price.

For those that want to put on size, pay attention to where clothes feel tighter. Usually around the chest and arms means that size increases are happening.

4. Body fat and body measurements

Testing body fat and body measurements can show the progress for fat loss efforts.

body fat

For body fat you will need someone who knows how to do the testing and it is not the most comfortable 3 minutes of your life. It is a good way to track progress over time.

The same goes for body measurements using a measuring tape. If the numbers are changing to your liking then you are making progress.

This does have some drawbacks because hydration and the experience of the tester can influence results.

Using the four tests above can be much more helpful than a weight scale. A program that causes you to increase muscle, lose fat, and reduce stress might
result in zero changes in weight.

That is misleading because you have gotten closer to your goal.

Weight loss does not equal fat loss and it is a volatile measurement.

Use some of the more realistic measures and it will make you much happier with your progress, stick to your plan, and get you the results you want.

Further Reading:

It’s Time to Finally Convince Your Clients That the Scale Doesn’t Matter