3 Reasons the Scale Doesn’t Help You Lose Weight

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, I would be willing to bet that stepping on the scale was how you measured success. In fact, the very act of losing weight means that number on the scale should be going down…right? Not always. And sometimes that number goes up even when you’ve done everything right and feel amazing (before you look down at the display between your toes, that is).

Your bathroom scale (or even your doctor’s scale) doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s still considered an invaluable tool for weight loss because it’s an easy way to chart progress – just a number that goes up or down from week to week. But ‘easy’ doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best way. And more often than not, when we step on that scale, our self-esteem, our mood, and how we feel about ourselves becomes tied to the number that appears.

This has all been on my mind recently, because I’m in the position again of having weight to lose, now I’m two months postpartum. But I won’t be relying solely on what the scale reads, because there are three very important reasons that not only is it flawed when used as the only definition of weight loss, the scale doesn’t help you lose weight.

If you’ve been struggling with weight loss, or feel like you’re becoming a little obsessed with the number on your scale, then this is a must read. 3 Reasons the Scale DOESN'T Help You Lose Weight explains why weighing yourself as a measure of progress is not the best way to track when you’re losing weight. Plus, easy tips to back away from the scale and become a weight loss success story!

1. The scale is used as a tool by itself. 

What the scale doesn’t tell you is how much of your weight is made up of fat and how much is lean mass. The scale also doesn’t account for water retention, or what’s going on with your digestive system. I’m sure you’ve heard the often quoted (and nonsensical) statement, “A pound of muscle weighs more than a pound of fat.” Obviously, that’s wrong – a pound is a pound, no matter if it’s fat, muscle or anything else. What it’s meant to express though, is that a pound of fat will take up more space than a pound of muscle. Fat has more volume than muscle. What does this mean when it comes to your body? It means that if, for example, you lose a pound of fat and gain a pound of muscle, the number on your scale will not change. You will weigh exactly the same amount, but your body will be smaller.

Solution: You can either have your body fat percentage measured at the same time your weight is recorded, then have both those retaken every time you’re reassessing your progress, OR you can use an easier method and just go by how your clothes fit. If your clothes are fitting more comfortably or looser, then guess what? You’re doing great.

2. You use diet alone to get the number on your scale moving down. 

Dieting alone, without exercise, may seem like it’s working because your weight is going down, but diet without exercise can lead to loss of muscle. If you think that’s not a big deal, you’re wrong. You already know that a pound of muscle is going to take up less space than the equivalent of fat, but there’s another important reason you want to maintain, or even increase your muscle mass: As well as negatively affecting your basic strength, loss of muscle means you’re losing one of the easiest ways to lose fat. That’s right, since muscle is metabolically more efficient than fat, it means the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest.

Solution: Don’t forego exercise. Even more importantly, don’t buy into the myth that cardio burns fat more efficiently than strength training. Both forms of exercise will use glycogen, then fat stores for energy, but the strength training causes your body to continue burning calories for a longer period of time after your workout, as well as increasing the muscle that’s going to make you an efficient fat-burning machine. I often explain to my clients that weight loss is just a happy side effect of getting stronger through strength training.

3. The scale can become an obsession.

Even if you know the number you see is not the be-all and end-all, you can still develop an unhealthy fixation on it getting lower, regardless of how it happens. When you find yourself acting irrationally simply so you can see a different result on the scale – from small actions like not weighing yourself until you’ve peed in the morning, to bigger issues like eating less the night before you weigh yourself – that’s when you should take a look at whether you’re taking control of your health, or whether the scale is taking control of you.

Solution: Look at the bigger picture of your weight loss goal. Make a list of all the ways you can measure your progress: How your clothes fit, how much stronger and fitter you’ve become, your measurements – these are all ways you can see how well you’re doing.

Finally, something I think is often overlooked is how rarely someone shares the amount they weigh, especially women. Do you know how much you friends weigh? Even your best friend? It’s a number we keep pretty close-lipped on, right? The next time someone pays you a compliment, don’t brush it off with a comment on how much you weigh. They don’t know what you weigh and they don’t care what you weigh, all they see is what you should be looking at – how cute you look in your jeans, what great definition you have in your muscles, or what dedication you have to your workouts. I know it’s hard. I’ve noticed since I had baby #2 that whenever someone says something about how I look, I tell them how much weight I have to lose. I’m working on it!

So, what do you think? Is your scale still your best weight loss tool?

What are the ways you measure your weight loss?



  1. Yes! Too many people become reliant on the scale, and its not good, and it sets you down that dark path! You know I am all about people embracing who they are, and building confidence, but the scale does not do that! Great post lady! Thanks for sharing!
    Tina Muir recently posted…Meatless Monday-Hawaiian Vegetable RiceMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Thanks Tina. So many people have a scale and it seems like such a simple way to track weight loss, but it’s so easy to slip into obsession.

  2. Such great and important points. BMI is a great tool for a quick assessment of health, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Look at how many people are skinny fat? With terrible habits, but they are just thin? And then my husband, who is “heavy” by BMI, but all muscle? You should really be paying attention to adipose fat and sub abdominal fat.
    And the obsessive part is a huge concern–we are a society obsessed with numbers. Numbers numbers numbers.
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Keep Calm and Call Mom (and Dad) + Gym Tan Laundry #MIMMMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Yes, BMI is a whole other issue – I feel like it’s only effective in extreme cases and it gets taken at face value.

  3. Oh how I love this! The scale can be such a slippery slope and I’ve seen too many people slide down it into oblivion! At my PT studio I used to ONLY measure clients unless they insisted on being weighed. The measurements almost always went down, even if the scale didn’t. Sometimes the best thing you can do is focus on making healthy choices, most of the time, workout regularly and step away from the scale!
    Allie recently posted…The Rundown – The Importance of Fueling ProperlyMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      I weigh clients only so I can assess body fat vs lean tissue when I do the calipers reading and I always give the speech about the scale alone not being the best way to gauge progress. It’s just been drummed into us for so long that weight is the be-all and end-all that it’s hard to break free of that.

  4. I last 6 months I put on almost 8 kgs. I have been eating lot of sweets. But recently I started avoiding sweets and can noticed lot of difference. I look and feel fresh. Also I am taking Cumin seeds water which is helping me to feel full and eat less.
    Arati recently posted…12 Secret Home Remedies To lose Weight FastMy Profile

  5. Today only run, do not do another activity for the sake of time. Even like. Legal article.

  6. Hey!

    I think the best way to lose weight is running and walking.Exercising daily will not only keep you fit and healthy but active too.By leading an active life a person will feel more fresh and will be more focused towards his goal.But unnecessary fat generates many problems and it becomes very difficult to reduce the weight .It is also recommended to have healthy diet if one wants to loose weight promptly.


  7. Hi, excellent article! What do you think of body fat / smart scales, these also provide a body fat percentage reading (more useful than overall weight)

  8. Hey!

    Nice post!

    I completely agree with scale doesn’t help you lose weight and weight loss is just a happy side effect of getting stronger.
    You have shared great tips.Your tips are really helpful for me. I will also share these tips with my friends.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Laura recently posted…Weight Loss Success with Ideal Protein at PROTECTMy Profile

  9. Great article, i also agree with your position.
    Also please check my website


  10. Tim Johnson says:

    Hi Carly, I absolutely agree. Nothing happens over night, everything needs time. We should not get obsess with checking all the time for the results. Great stuff!
    Tim Johnson recently posted…10 Best Diet Foods For Effective Weight LossMy Profile

  11. Hi Carly, i also agree… nice post! congrats!

  12. Hi, It’s really great post. Thanks for share it .

  13. I agree with you, I prefer to let my clothes tell me if I am losing weight or to alert me if I am gaining weight and is time to take action with more physical activity and slightly less eating
    Yudith @ raisefrequency recently posted…Importance of forgiveness- Are you forgiven?- How to get forgiveness?My Profile

  14. very true this post….. i totally agree. my way to measure is through my clothes.

  15. I last 6 months I put on almost 8 kgs. I have been eating lot of sweets. But recently I started avoiding sweets and can noticed lot of difference. I look and feel fresh. Also I am taking Cumin seeds water which is helping me to feel full and eat less.

  16. Thanks for sharing these informative article with us. As a dietitian, I believe that scale doesn’t helpful in your weight loss process. If you really want to loss weight, So work hard and follow a proper diet plan.

  17. Hi, It’s really great post. Thanks for share it .

  18. Good! This is a good post. This post gives truly quality information. I’m definitely going to look into it. Really very useful tips are provided here. Thank you so much. Keep up the good works. Thanks!
    Gabriel Vilela recently posted…Olá, mundo!My Profile

  19. Good! My congratulations to the site / blog is sensational as it is easy to read and understand, I love to always be around here, continue with the excellent work. Thanks for that!
    Eliane recently posted…Resultados e Depoimentos Guia da Reconquista PerfeitaMy Profile

  20. Excellent item very good

  21. Wow…I found it interesting, I’ll share it on my social networks, thank you so much.

  22. Hey, excellent article! What do you think of body fat / smart scales, these also provide a body fat percentage reading (more useful than overall weight), thanks!