Why Does the Scale Say That?



Why Does the Scale Say That?

By Jennifer Nelson

Why does the scale say that? Have you ever stepped on the scale in the morning and smiled because you’d dropped a pound or two? Or, upon seeing higher-than-usual numbers, blamed your unexpected weight gain on heavy shoes or the lunch you just had?

Most women play some version of the scale game whenever they weigh themselves, but the truth is there are at least eight reasons why the numbers can fluctuate so much. Remember these, and the next time the scale doesn’t cooperate, you’ll know why:

You’re wearing clothes. On average, clothes add up to 2 pounds to your actual weight. “Summer clothing tends to be relatively light, and winter jeans and sweaters could add more than 2 pounds,” says Katie Heddleston, a registered dietitian based in Cleveland. At home, weigh yourself in the nude first thing in the morning. At the doctor’s office, take off your shoes and jacket for a more accurate reading.

You just finished working out. When you exercise at a high intensity, you burn glycogen calories (carbs), which hold water weight. You might see a 5-pound dip on the scale after a high-energy spinning or Zumba class, but don’t do a happy dance just yet. The drop isn’t a true weight loss; it’s a loss of water weight, which will quickly go back on once you rehydrate. In fact, “you need to drink 16 ounces of water for every pound down after a workout to replenish your water stores appropriately,” says Heddleston.

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