There are many things that can affect our body weight and we need to be aware of this when we’re trying to reach a weight loss or a muscle gain goal.
Our body weight does not directly correlate to our body fat or muscle levels.
Body weight is a combination of our total mass muscle mass, total fat mass, all of the water, the blood and the food that we’ve got within our body. Along with all of the organs, all of bones and everything else.
You therefore need to realise this when you are trying to make a change in your body weight.
Looking at weight loss first; if you’re trying to lose weight, your body weight will fluctuate on a day to day basis.
These fluctuations are based on whether you’ve gone to the bathroom or not, whether you’ve got water still within the system, or food still within the system.
They also depend on how much carbohydrate you have stored at any one time, knowing that the maximum you can store within the body is around 15 grams per kilo. With each gram of carbohydrate that’s stored, you store three to four grams of water!
This means that if you ate 100 grams of carbohydrates, all of which got stored in the body, you would put on about 400 to 500 grams in total, because of the amount of water weight. Have a think about that next time you have a big day of food and you’ve put on weight the next day.
Blood volume varies massively between individuals, especially between trained and untrained individuals, so that is worth noting if you are doing a lot of aerobic exercise. Your blood volume will be increasing and that will make you weigh more.
What then do we do about it? Do we even bother with weighing ourselves?
I think that you definitely should weigh yourself, but only if you do it regularly, if you’re not going to do it regularly, don’t do it at all and use other measures to track progress. I will be discussing other measures later in the week.
If you are going to weigh yourself, do it three to five times a week, I realise that seems a lot but there’s a good reason behind it.
The research on weighing yourself regularly is mixed, there was a study by Wing et al in 2007, which showed that regular self weighing was associated with better dietary control and fewer depressive symptoms. Thereby making it better for people’s weight loss efforts.
However, later on in 2015, Pacanowski et al did a review paper that showed with overweight women and younger individuals seeking treatment, themes emerged which had either negative outcomes or lack of relationship with positive outcomes. They essentially had less of a great effect with regular weighing.
The reason why I think it is a good thing is because if you weigh yourself regularly, you can track your average, and then see the changes in your average over time.
Your scale will spike up and down on a daily basis, often for reasons unbeknownst to you. I was on the call to a client earlier today and he was talking about how, a night after having four beers, his weight was two and a half pounds down, whereas after a weekend of being as good as gold and eating only salads, his weight spiked up.
If that’s not just random fluctuations, I don’t know what is! You therefore need to decide whether you’re going to weigh regularly. If you’re not going to weigh regularly, I suggest that you don’t do it at all.
In terms of muscle gain, we need to be aware that muscle gain takes longer than fat loss. If you’re tracking a half a kilo to a kilo a week of fat loss with muscle gain. You’re looking more towards .05 to 0.1% of your body weight, every month that you’re looking to grow.
It is much, much slower with comparison to weight loss, you’re going to be tracking things over a period of time. For most muscle gain clients, I’d be looking to increase your weight steadily month to month. Very, very slowly, but you’re going to be looking more at other measures like skinfold and girth measurements.
If you’re weighing yourself regularly, you should do so in the morning, naked, before having any food and drink and after having a trip to the bathroom. Make sure that you do that every time you weigh so that it is a consistent and fair test.
There is no point weighing yourself one morning, then weighing yourself the next afternoon and crying because you are two kilos heavier. That is literally the most stupid thing you could do with weighing yourself regularly.
Do it consistently in the morning, record it, track and average, there’s an app called Happy scale, which you can use to track your average.
If you don’t want to know your weight, then you either don’t track it, or you can use some Wi Fi scales that connect directly to your phone. These will record the weight for you on My Fitness Pal, or Apple Health, or however you want to do it. That will then track, the average for you.