Why the Scale Lies...
So you want to lose weight. First thing you do is hop on the scale to get your starting point. You are unhappy with the number, and so your journey begins. You try different diets, different weight loss drinks, you have increased your exercise...and after all that, the number on the scale isn't moving much. Well, I'm here to tell you that the number you are seeing...is most likely a lie.
Weight loss is multifaceted. That number on the scale is multifaceted. The number on the scale alone does not determine weight loss success. Here are a few reasons why the number on the scale is not accurate...
Inflammation, to some degree, is always present in the body. Inflammation refers to the chemical process your body goes through to reduce a stressor. A stressor can be internal (think germs) or external (fast-paced lifestyle). No matter what type of stressor you are experiencing, your body will react to it. A popular source of inflammation is diet. Processed foods increase gut inflammation and this reflects on the scale. Exercise also increases inflammation by way of muscle break-down or lactic acid. So, if you see an increase in the scale after an intense training session, or after a pizza party, this is why.
To piggyback on the first bullet point, we are going to discuss stress. Inflammation and stress go hand-in-hand. The most popular stress hormone is cortisol. Cortisol increases your insulin levels, which in turn decrease your blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar levels drop, you get hungry, and often crave sugary snacks. This is the main reason why people eat when they are stressed out. All the extra sugar and calories inevitably show up on the scale.
Sleep is very important in weight loss. Your body does the most recovery during sleep. Getting enough sleep helps your body recover from exercise and any stressors experienced throughout the day. Not getting enough sleep means your body does not recover well, leading to wacky hormones and inflammation. Also, the more hours you are awake, the more opportunity you have to eat food.
This one is a biggie. Drinking enough water is crucial to weight loss. Staying hydrated will increase your metabolism, and allow your body to turn fat into energy. Hydration will also flush out any swelling you may have in your body. In turn, dehydration slows down your metabolism, and therefore causes energy to be stored as fat. So, in reality, drinking more water will give you a smaller number on the scale, and being dehydrated will show up as weight gain.
Lastly, there is sodium. Sodium and water go hand-in-hand. When you eat a lot of sodium, it pulls water from your blood into the cells, leading to dehydration (see above). This water retention increases that number on the scale and can often make you look bloated as well.
So, next time you see that number on the scale increase, ask yourself, "Am I holding on to inflammation or excess water?" "Did I get enough sleep?" "Am I dehydrated?" "Did I eat too much sodium?" Due to all these factors having an effect on your weight, it is best to gauge weight loss by how you look, how you clothes feel, and measuring your waist, hips, and chest.