Dangerous Scale 

            Most people who are trying to lose weight often become frustrated by the number that is displayed on the scale.  As a personal trainer I use the scale as a tool to determine an individual’s fat mass.  Multiplying a person’s body fat percentage by the weight measured on the scale easily accomplishes this.  The fat mass number is then subtracted from their body weight, thus giving the individuals lean mass, which is the muscle, water, and internal organs of the body.  For example, two females that are 5'6 and weight 135lbs can look very different from each other, even to the extreme of being polar opposites.  One might have a body fat percentage of 33%, while the other might have a percentage of only 22%.  Of important note though, one must realize that the weight on the scale can be influenced by several different factors.

            For example, an individual that weighs in at 140 pounds, and ate a dinner high in salt content the previous evening could possibly actually be showing a weight on the scale that is actually higher than it could be by 2 to 5 pounds.  This could be a result of water retention from the salt of the previous evening’s meal.  Salt has the effect of retaining water at the cellular level in our bodies.  Other factors can also influence our body weights including water retention, dehydration, recent illness, and pregnancy.

            The individuals whose weight will decrease the most significantly on the scale are those individuals that are obese.  Generally, as body fat percentages go for males, 10% and under indicates very lean, 11-15% indicates a lean individual, 16-20% is average, and 20% and higher is considered obese.  For women, the following percentages are used: 20% and under indicates a very lean individual, 21%-25% indicates a lean individual, 26%-34% is average, and 34% and greater is considered obese. 

            A qualified personal trainer can check your body fat percentage with a tape measure and a skin caliper, and will be able to accurately calculate your fat mass.  A realistic goal for most people is to lose 3% body fat in 4-6 weeks.  This is done without starving the body, and being on a rigorous exercise program.  Although most individuals will be able to lose some fat percentage, it will be easier for those with higher body fat percentages to do so.

            In addition to loosing body fat, individuals might actually notice an increase in the weigh-in number on the scale after starting a weight-training program.  This is perfectly natural after starting a weight-training program.  As the body begins to build muscle, and lose fat at the same time, the heavy mass of the muscle may outweigh the mass of the fat that the body has lost.  Again, a qualified personal trainer like me, Scott White, can measure your body accurately, in addition to weighing your mass on a scale and give you the percentages of your fat and muscle.  Once your body percentages have been determined, you can move forward with a fitness plan and a set of goals to achieve.


So, get your body fat percentage and lose weight by the test, not the scale!