Remember how I keep saying I’m going to do a rant post soon about why I hate the scale? Well, here it is. Is the scale accurate? Sure, it tells you how much you weigh and that’s a fact, what it does NOT do is tell you what’s in your body and why you weigh what you do. This leads people to constantly be upset with the number they find out.
Common things I hear my friends say after they weigh themselves:
I’ve been working out non-stop and the scale hasn’t budged!
How come I weigh MORE now than before I started dieting!?
Guess who drank 8 beers last night and now weighs LESS? YEaaaah! Beer diet!
Here are the things you WANT to know about your weight:
- Your muscle mass
- The amount of visceral fat on your body. This is the internal fat that sticks to your organs, like your omentum, that can be extremely dangerous.
- Your body fat %
- Other factors like water retention and bone density
Muscle Mass, Density, Weight, and How it Affects Your Body
Let’s get things straight. Muscle does NOT weigh more than fat. 1lb of muscle weighs the exact same as 1lb of fat. The difference is the amount of space it takes up. Muscle also acts much differently than fat in your body. Not only does it make you stronger (and look more cut when you have a low body fat %) but it also burns an average of 7-10 calories a day per pound where fat typically burns only 2-3 calories a day per pound. The more muscle mass you have, the higher your BMR (Basal Metobolic Rate) will be. In essence, this is why men (typically having more muscle mass than women) can eat more.
So back to the scale. Ever get extremely frustrated and demotivated because you’ve found out you’ve GAINED weight after all this working out instead of losing it! UGH! I had a similar feeling last night when after 14 days of the shred I’ve gain 1/2 lb. But I knew better. Not only are you gaining muscle when you workout, but you will also start to lose fat the more muscle you gain. Fat just can’t survive in that kind of badass environment!
When working new muscles or starting a new weight oriented workout program your body and your muscles have to adjust and adapt. Part of this chemical process involves your muscles replenishing glycogen stores. Glycogen not only attracts and holds onto water but is also required for muscle maintenance during and after a workout. This means that the more muscles you use (some I didn’t know existed until I started doing 30DS) and the more active you are, the more your body will need to replenish these glycogen stores. If your body runs low on these, it will begin to turn carbohydrates into glycogen. This is another reason why it’s important to eat carbs. Ever feel super faint or dizzy after or during a workout? You should be eating healthy carbs to help your body.
So stop feeling so discouraged the next time you weigh more or the scale hasn’t budged after working out. Eventually, your body will adapt and as fat comes off, your weight will drop. Don’t use the scale or the number you get from it as the only indicator of your progress.
Visceral Fat and the Omentum
You may have heard Dr. Oz talk about the omentum in the past. It’s actually an organ for catching fat. This is one of the most dangerous places you can store fat on your body! And unfortunately, men are most susceptible to it as they get older. Beer bellies, you know what I’m talking about, scary stuff. The omentum is also acts as a cortisol (the stress hormone) storage point. A good way to take a ballpark estimate of your omentum health is to look at your waist measurement. Typically women under 35 inches and men under 40 should have a decently healthy omentum. I’ll do another more in-depth post on this later.
Visceral fat is stored around your liver and can actually threaten your liver functions if too much is in your body.
Water Retention & Alcohol
I’ve been guilty of bragging out how much less I weigh after a weekend of drinking. Thinking I’m all magical and a total badass for being able to keep up with my weight-loss progress while still going out with friends. Truth is, you’re not making any progress. Alcohol does a great job of dehydrating you. This means that your water retention drops, you’re losing water weight and nothing else. Ladies, this is also why your weight will go up and down ALL month. The uterus actually produces glycogen when women get pregnant to help retain more water.
Point and Case
Scales don’t tell you your muscle mass, your visceral fat, how healthy your omentum is, or know that you drank 3 beers the other night and just started your period. There are scales out there that can send an electrode through your body and give you a more accurate reading but I’m not really for these, either. You shouldn’t be weighing yourself constantly and judging yourself off of these numbers. Go off of how you FEEL, how your clothes fit, what’s your mood like, how much energy you have! A scale can be a great place to start and check in on, but don’t obsess about it!