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Should You Really Throw Out Your Scale?

Throwing your scale away seems to be all the rage these days.

Does your bathroom scale whisper you sweet things one day, then completely ruins your mood the next morning? How do we make sense of these ever-changing numbers? Throwing your scale away seems to be all the rage these days and this frustration is the reason why we are creating ShapeScale. Although bathroom scales have been around for over 200 years now, little has changed and the scale remains to be a poor tool for tracking fitness progress. This post explains why your bathroom scale sucks and why ShapeScale provides a better solution.

Guess what, I went out to dinner on Friday and gained 5lbs on the scale… You know exactly what I’m talking about! Five pounds up, two pounds down, one up again. Aaaaahhh!

This kind of pathological lying behavior from our bathroom scales is not uncommon. So what’s the deal with these numbers? Well, let me tell you a little secret. Your bathroom scale kind of sucks and here’s why.

Here are 10 uplifting truths about your bathroom scale:

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Physically we’re like a big water balloon. Water makes up approximately 65 to 90% of a person’s weight, and variations in water content can move the scale by ten pounds or more from day to day!

FOODS THAT YOU CONSUME AFFECT WATER RETENTION

The fat you lose through dieting can be obscured by water retention 

Both carbohydrates and salt cause water retention. This is why you might have woken up 5 pounds heavier after that bowl of pasta. But it is not 5 pounds of fat – that’s biologically impossible.

Every 1 gram of carbohydrate requires 3-4 grams of water to process and store it. Your bowl of pasta is approximately 129 grams of carbs, which required 287 – 516 grams of water. You just gained an extra 1 – 1.5 pounds of water weight from carbohydrates in one meal. Don’t freak out. It’s not fat, and it will be gone in a few days.  

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HIGH SUGAR + SALT INTAKE = INCREASED WATER WEIGHT

When it comes to salt, the amount of water retained depends on how much you are used to eating. Water retention from salt is driven by deviations from your “normal” amount of salt consumed.  Excess sodium causes the kidneys to hold extra fluids and thus cause temporary weight gain. While excess sugar causes the body to produce insulin, which in turn hinders the body’s ability to expel sodium.

DID YOU KNOW?

A lot of competitors in bodybuilding and martial arts lower or increase their weight by regulating their sodium intake.

ALCOHOL: MORNING AFTER WEIGHT GAIN

Excessive alcohol in the blood may contribute to the temporary suppression of the release of the antidiuretic hormone (ADH) within the body. When ADH is reduced, the urine that the kidneys produce becomes increasingly concentrated with the substance, and the urine is incredibly diluted. The dilute urine lacks in electrolytes such as sodium which instead is reserved in the body. A sodium imbalance within the body then leads to water retention.

STOP RETAINING WATER BY DRINKING MORE WATER!

An extra two glasses of water can easily translate to 1lbs of extra weight. Similarly, fluid retention can also be a result of dehydration. When your body is deprived of water, it begins to hold onto whatever fluid it received, So if you don’t consume enough water, you’re likely to experience temporary water retention while your body attempts to replenish its water stores.

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YOUR HORMONES PLAY A SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN FLUID RETENTION

Ladies, don’t blame yourself, blame your hormones!  Some women can gain up to 10 lbs right before or during their period.

This is due to a drop in progesterone which can lead to water retention and constipation. Magnesium also drops in the days before menstruation which drives insulin levels up leading to these wild food cravings, especially for sugar. Both these hormonal changes as well as cravings can contribute to weight gain.

ELEVATED CORTISOL LEVELS CAUSE INCREASED WATER RETENTION

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenals in response to stress and low blood sugar levels. Elevated cortisol levels. Research also shows that a prolonged calorie deficit dramatically raises cortisol levels. This causes quite a few unwanted effects in the body including increased water retention.

MUSCLE GROWTH LEADS TO GREATER WATER RETENTION

After some serious squatting, you might have felt your legs got swollen. That’s because intense exercise causes your muscles to retain water to aid recovery. Your muscles retain up to 5 lbs of water when repairing themselves!

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MUSCLE IS MORE DENSE THAN FAT

Focusing on just your weight number can be a traumatic experience if you are doing weighted exercise. The biggest downfall of your bathroom scale is its indiscriminate nature. It cannot distinguish between lean muscle and body fat.

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Despite looking more toned and lean, Kelsey has gained nearly 20lbs (Instagram: @mysweatlife)

Muscle is about 18% more dense than fat. In other words imagine muscle as a small, compact brick, and fat as a bulky, lumpy pillow. This means that if you exchange 5lbs of fat for 5 lbs of lean muscle, you will weigh exactly the same, but your silhouette is actually slimmer.  

Did You Know:

1lb of additional lean muscle will burn approximately an additional 50 calories per day. So if you add 5lbs of muscle to your body, you will burn approximately an additional 250 calories a day! Adding lean muscle will increase your body’s capacity to burn calories, and in turn, help you keep the weight off in the long term.

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Fat Distribution Matters

The real problem occurs when fat accumulates around the waist. Yet scales can’t tell you anything about your body fat distribution.

Studies show that the risk of dying and living with health complications is closely related to where a person carries his or her fat. When excess fat clusters around the midsection, it is more dangerous than when it is widely distributed.

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FIND OUT WHAT YOUR BODY SHAPE REVEALS ABOUT YOUR HEALTH 

Essentially, no matter how heavy a person is, the distribution of their body weight is a key predictor of health risk. Your scale tells nothing about your body shape, which really makes you question how useful if at all, your scale really is.

Essentially your weight can fluctuate wildly over the course of a 24-48 hour period.  Depending on what you ate today, how much water you drank, if there was sodium in your food, what kind of clothing you were wearing, what time of day you weigh yourself, your weight will be different.

SO IS THE SCALE COMPLETELY USELESS?

No!

All in all, your bathroom scale does not accurately reflect the changes that are happening to your body. That is absolutely correct. However, like it or not, the scale is a dieter’s friend.

I will admit that the scale has its uses. First of all, it is good to know what your starting number is. One day you can say: I used to weigh 90 kilos and now I’m 20 kilos lighter. This can be very empowering.

Also, over long periods of time, it’s a good way to tell if you’re headed in the right direction or not. If used correctly, the scale can tell you whether your weight is steadily increasing or decreasing and it does it earlier than you might be able to tell by the fit of your clothes. As a result, you can modify your behavior before the problem becomes harder to deal with.

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This is also backed up by research which shows that those who monitor their weight are likely to not only lose more weight but also to keep it off longer than their non-weighing counterparts. (1, 2)

Although there are numerous ways that allow for a more accurate progress tracking, these take time and can be very tedious.

TOP 10 WAYS TO TRACK FITNESS PROGRESS

Taking girth measurements, for instance, can also be quite tricky to do yourself and assistance may be necessary. A scale on the other hand is a quick, easy solution. So don’t throw your bathroom scale away ( at least not until we launch ShapeScale 😬 )  Your scale is the single easiest tool you have at your disposal to track your weight changes.

Lastly, weighing yourself regularly might help you resist the urge to eat mindlessly.

However, a scale can also cause all kinds of mental issues. If you feel like you’re being controlled by the numbers, we recommend that you don’t have a scale at home. Instead, weigh yourself at the gym or at your friend’s house once a week.

Keeping Your Scale Around Might Make Sense

The point is that, yes, the scale is not perfect but at the same time it is not your enemy. The numbers need to be taken in context and as long as you understand what the scale can, and most importantly what it can’t tell you, then it can be a useful tool for weight management.

Why ShapeScale Is Better Than Your Bathroom Scale

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As argued above, it is still of value to know your weight. That is why ShapeScale will provide you the numbers. However, it does much more than that. ShapeScale gives you complete girth measurements and muscle and fat percentage all in one place. While your bathroom scale can only tell you your weight, ShapeScale differentiates between body fat and lean muscle.

More, ShapeScale will tell you exactly where body fat is distributed using a heat map. Yes, your new bathroom scale may tell you your body fat percentage however it is likely to be very inaccurate. Our body fat data is much more precise. We use algorithms similar to hydrostatic weighing that make use of body volume and density to determine the user’s body fat mass. ShapeScale’s sensor is accurate to less than a sixteenth of an inch!

Shape Index – A New Way To Measure Fat Better

Most importantly, ShapeScale will use the Shape Index. Unlike your ordinary scale, this new way of measuring body fat takes into consideration where the weight is concentrated. Abdominal fat is a critical factor to take into consideration as it is linked to a number of health conditions. This makes Shape Index a more reliable predictor of health, as proven by a study published in the Journal of Translational Medicine.

Are you more of a visual person? ShapeScale creates a photo-realistic 3D model of you so you can visually track progress and detect changes the naked eye cannot see. Our scale will tell you exactly where your body is changing.

Read About My Own Experience with ShapeScale

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The takeaway? Keep your bathroom scale, especially if your goal is weight loss. But remember, next time you step on your scale and it tells you that you inexplicably gained 4 pounds overnight, don’t get upset. Put things into proper perspective. The good news is that soon, you will no longer have to deal with your scale’s tricks. ShapeScale will paint a much more complete picture of your body changes. Stepping on a scale will never be the same again!

Do not hesitate, join the waitlist for the pre-order to get a true measure of your fitness.

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Wiktoria Banda

Wiktoria is a content writer and illustrator at Shape.
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