The fitness industry seems to hate the scale. You’ve probably seen headlines like “Don’t Be a Slave to the Scale!”, “Throw Away Your Scales”, or “The 500 Reasons Your Scales Are Useless”.
It’s sensational, but horrible advice. Fat loss is hard enough without throwing away the best tool we have for it.
The Problem With Body Weight
Like many over-simplifications, there is some logic behind the scale-hating.
Daily weight can vary a lot. It’s affected by many factors apart from body fat, including how much you drink, stress levels, changes in diet and activity, time of day, and sleep duration.
Seeing a sudden body weight increase is alarming for someone who doesn’t know fluctuations are normal. Problems may arise if the fat loss plan is altered based on these changes.
Then We Must Burn the Scale Factories!
But the answer isn’t to throw away your scales. Instead, we can turn a stumbling block into an asset by ignoring short-term variations and instead observing overall trends.
Taming the Savage Beast With… Averages?
There are a number of good approaches. One idea is to take body weight no more than once per week—especially useful for someone who doesn’t want the hassle of daily weighing.
My own strategy is to weigh myself every day upon waking. I monitor a 3 and 7-day average, and modify my plan based only on these numbers. I try to wait even longer, but often patience is in short supply when dieting.
Why It Matters
Fat loss can be a painful process (see The Dark Side of Staying Super Lean). To spend the least time doing it, the process has to be optimized as much as possible. To do that we need measurements.
Ideally we’d take exact readings of body fat percentage. However, there’s no cheap, easily accessible way to do this. Even the most accurate, expensive research equipment is prone to considerable error and inconsistency.
Therefore we make do with what we have, which for most people is the bathroom scale. And even with its shortcomings, the scale is the best fat loss tool, and it has guided countless dieters to success.
Feedback is welcome, I’d love to hear your thoughts and about your experiences. Just use the comment form below, or send me an email.
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