What Your Scale Doesn’t Know

So we’re approaching bikini season and how are your resolutions coming?  For many of the limbo effect of dieting is wagered by a purgatory of numbers, body weight.  Scales are commonly misunderstood devices for many reasons, including your own interpretation of the numbers, so here’s what it’s not telling you


Body Mass Index is one measure of overall health.  A calculation of weight, height, and waist circumference this index categorizes your general body composition on a scale ranging between 18-30.  Clearly, there are other factors to consider in your overall wellness and body weight is only one factor.


Per Web MD, in regards to BMI different ethnicities may be expected to weigh differently to be healthy.  For example Asians are recommended to have a lower body weight range than other ethnicities to be within normal healthy limits.

Where the Weight Is

Many people think that fat goes to your belly and butt, but that isn’t true.  Fat goes everywhere!  It coasts muscle, lines organs, twists around meninges and infiltrates nooks and crannies throughout your body.  For example, a woman with 50lbs of fat may care 5-10 of those pounds internally as intra-abdominal weight.  Yes, the more fat you have the more it infests your body but the real clincher is where the weight resides.  In this example intra-abdominal weight is particularly dangerous as can increase the risk of liver dysfunction.

Types of Fat

There are two types of weight for the human body and the scale can’t tell them apart, lean and fat weight.  Lean weight includes the essentials like bone, muscle, organs, ligaments, water, and blood accounting for 40-60% of the number.  Fat weight is the weight of fat cells and varies drastically per individual ranging between 10-40%, in most cases.  Interestingly enough the two can be related, for instance when body weight increases skeletal weight increases as well, bulking up the bones to carry the extra weight.

Note:  An average human head weighs 10 lbs, composed of 3 lbs brain and 7 lbs skull, teeth, eyes, muscles, and skin.

What You Eat

If you eat a quarter-pounder you will gain a quarter-pound instantly.  During digestion, however, this weight changes.  Bonds are broken during mastication and digestive enzymes release some of the weight as energy, using the nutrients within the body, and if not used stores the extra as fat.

For someone who eats foods low in calories the weight gain will be less drastic because the body has less to burn.  For example consider a 98 lb women named Sonya Thomas, a competitive eating champion.  During one contest in Maine she ate an astonishing 44 lobsters, 11.3 pounds of meat, and approximately 5,400 calories.  Because Sonya burns roughly 2,500 calories per day her excess consumption totaled 2,900 calories which translates to around one pound of weight.  So, even though Sonya consumed 11.3 pounds of food the next day she had only gained 1 pound.

In contrast for someone who eats foods higher in calories the weight gain will be more drastic.  For example, if an average Joe ate a 10,000 cake that weight 1 lbs and did not exercise they would have consumed an excess of 7,500 calories they would gain a fair few pounds overnight.  Even though the average Joe ate less in weight than Sonya he consumed more calories and as a result had a higher number on the scale the next morning.

Water Weight

60% of your body weight is water.  Each person consumes and loses different amount of water weight per day and roughly 40% of each meal is composed of water.  The Institute of Medicine recommends we consume between 2-3 liters of water per day.  Consider 1 liter of water is 2.20 lbs.  In theory we should be gaining 6.6 lbs of water per day, however, the body uses water in so many different ways that much of this mass dissipates during digestion.

Note: Water is retained more by saltly (high sodium), carby, and sugary foods.

Time of Day

If you’re a scale watcher here’s a tip – weigh yourself on the same scale at the same time of day wearing the same attire.  Consistency is everything in tracking weight loss or gain.

It is true, we weigh least in the morning when we wake up.  If you wake up and exercise then you will weigh even less from water loss.  If you wake up, exercise, and drink water who knows where you’ll be!  Your weight changes throughout the day due to countless factors including attire, body intake, and outtake.  For those of you thinking about poop jokes yes, you will weigh less after a poop, approximately 123.6 grams with a standard deviation of 40.2 grams depending on too many things to list.  Clothes can weigh anywhere from 0.5-6 lbs, jeans alone weighing 2 lbs by some makers.

What You Look Like

Weight doesn’t say it all and neither does a number.  You can be scrawny and pretty, curvy and gorgeous, ripped like the Hulk belief and the scale couldn’t care less.



MM Sheridan can most often be found jogging through the northern California foothills, sunning on the beach with a good book, or frequenting any given café sipping an Americano and conversing with potentially great company. Topics of interest include everything and everything at anytime or anywhere.

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