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THE SCALES.. are they the best indicator of fat loss?

Updated: Mar 16

The scales are a popular tool in many households, being used to measure the progress of a weight/fat loss goal. The scale weight rising gets attributed to failure and the scale weight diminishing gets attributed to success, but is this right? Are the scales causing more harm than good and what else can we do to gain a clearer picture of whether our goals are moving in the right direction or not?


I think the only thing we can do is to provide some education around this area so that we can apply some context and rationale to the emotions we feel when we see the scales go up or down. This education can stop the demoralisation and elation experienced on the scales, emotions that can quite often derail our fitness goals. I’ve seen far too frequently people worrying about the two pounds they’ve put on


despite trying hard all week. They let the perceived failure overwhelm them and leave their fat loss goals in the cold for another few months before they decide to give it another shot. On the flip side, feelings of elation after seeing the scales go down are joined by unrealistic expectations and disappointment when the scales fail to display the same results each week.


Firstly, we at O’Neill Fitness take weight measurements. There is no denying that they can be a marker of progress, stagnation or even regression. If you lose a significant amount of body fat, the scales are going to display that. On the other hand you can lose body fat and see no change on the scales. Below underlines a comprehensive list of the things that can affect your weight:

· Hydration Levels

· Training

· Dietary Sodium

· Carbohydrate Intake

· Toilet Habits

· Menstrual Cycle


With this many things that can affect your weight, you cannot objectively and conclusively attribute scale ‘success’ or ‘failure’ to fat loss. We need to measure other things to gain a clearer picture. We recommend using progress photos, body measurements, the way your clothes fit and how you feel. A combination of quantitative and qualitative data to gain a clearer picture of success. On top of this we can track nutritional intake to make informed judgements around the scale reading. From the list you can see quite how much your diet can affect what you see on the scales, so keeping an eye on your hydration and the macronutrients you’re consuming in is ‘data’ that can help us make more informed judgements and opinions.


So in answer to the question, no, the scales are not the best indicator of fat loss. They should be utilised alongside other indicators of progress, to make informed judgements as to whether you are on the right path towards your fat loss goal.

To conclude, the scales are a tool in our tool box. They are not the be all and end all of measuring fat loss, so the emotions you feel when reading the scales should not be met with the same ‘black or white’ thought process. Use this educational tool to provide context and rationale to the number you see on the scale and realise that your gravitational pull to the earth is not the only measure of success.

If you want this level of reassurance, education & accountability to finally achieve the goal you’ve always wanted for yourself, why not get in touch with us and email info @oneillsfitness.co.uk

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