One of the most common questions I am asked by members of the Atkins community is about how often you should weigh yourself on a low carb diet. I always reply that you should never rely on the scales alone to measure your progress. It just doesn’t give you the full picture.
Of course, I understand it’s hard to get out of the habit. When the scales say we’ve lost weight, it gives us a huge boost. But the problem comes when we don’t see any change, or if our weight increases. Not only can it be thoroughly demotivating, it could even lead to you throwing away all that good low carb work and have you reaching for the chocolates as quick as you can say ‘what’s the point?’.
Here are 5 reasons why it’s important not to listen to the scales alone:
Even if your weight increases, it doesn’t automatically mean that you’ve gained body fat or that a low carb diet isn’t working for you. You see, the scale is measuring your body as a whole and there are many elements contributing – yes, you have body fat but you also have muscle, bone and water weight too.
The scales also measure the food and drink you’ve consumed and can vary depending on if you’ve exercised and how hydrated you are. Even being constipated can add a few extra pounds. So don’t instantly feel downhearted if you weight hasn’t moved, take these factors into consideration.
The human body is approximately 60% water and your body works hard to maintain a good balance. However, if you retain water, you can instantly gain weight that’s nothing to do with your level of body fat.
Ladies should be aware that a common symptom of menstruation is fluid retention, which can account for up to 5lbs extra. Staying hydrated is important to minimise water retention too as if you’re dehydrated your body tends to hold onto water. Also, if you exercise, this causes tiny muscle fibres to inflame and this can affect your water balance. This is especially true when you start a new exercise regime.
If you feel like your weight loss has stalled, don’t worry, it’s a temporary thing. Talking to members of our online community, they say that in many cases a period of no-weight loss is often followed by a ‘whoosh’ – their way of saying their weight loss picks up the pace again. It’s very common to see nothing change on the scale for a few weeks and then lose a good amount the following week.
What phase of weight loss you’re in plays a big part in the rate you’ll lose weight. In short, the less you have to lose, the slower it will be. Yes, some people lose 15lbs in the first 2 weeks on Atkins but this tend to be more likely if you have lots to lose to begin with.
If you’re only looking to lose a stone or two, then it’ll likely to go at a slower, steadier rate. In fact, even if you started off at a much higher weight, the rate you lose weight will naturally slow as you go through the phases and get closer to your goal.
When we’re sleep deprived, the body produces cortisol, a stress hormone, and this can cause your body to produce insulin. As insulin is a fat storing hormone, it can affect your body weight. So, as a guide, aim to get around 7-8 hours per night.
As you can see, the scales shouldn’t be your sole way of measuring success when following Atkins. Try taking some tape measurements of your chest, waist, hips and thighs and see the inches drop. This is also a good way of monitoring ‘problem’ areas too. Alternatively, judge your results using a specific item of clothing, such as a particularly unforgiving pair of jeans.
Some people use the scales to motivate themselves, and that’s great. For them, the number doesn’t affect their food intake for the rest of the day, or make them feel upset, but is just there to keep them on track. If this is the case for you, then continue to weigh yourself but try using some other methods to further increase your motivation.
Do you weigh yourself and how often? Do you find it motivates you or frustrates you? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Share on our forum.