Why the scale isn’t the best indicator of fitness

A Guide To Calorie Counting
January 23, 2018
November 16, 2018

Have you been on a weight loss journey and it feels like it’s taking forever to get to your dream body? Or you somewhat feel discouraged about the whole process because you’re constantly looking at the scale but seemingly, little or no change has been observed? Cheer up! Don’t get discouraged yet.

Most people trying to lose weight often use body weight as an indicator of their progress, which is a major misconception. When I started my weight loss journey I used to be so eager to see my scale move in the anti-clockwise direction to determine I was making progress. Little did I know, I was only setting myself up for unnecessary heartache, not until I realized that losing weight cannot totally be based on the reduction of the number seen on the scale, but also on the loss of a considerable amount of fatty tissue. As a matter of fact, the body composition of an individual (muscles, bones, water composition, fatty tissues etc.) plays a major role in the overall weight of an individual.

According to your fitness level, your body weight is a combined percentage of the various weights of your body composition.
Muscle: 30-55% of body weight
Fat: 10-30% of body weight
Water composition(excluding in the muscle and fat): 10-25% of body weight
Bones: about 15% of body weight
Organs, other tissue: 10-15% of body weight

As you can see above, muscle weighs more than fat. Therefore, the more familiar you are with the different variables, the more ‘’losing weight’’ applies to ‘’losing fat’’. Water loss can portray the appearance of weight loss but the body fat percent is the most reliable way to track your fitness progress, as the other parameters are relatively constant (for instance, you cannot shed your bones or shed your organs, as they are required for the proper functioning of your body system).

Yes! Fair enough, muscles weigh more than fat. Muscles make up 30-55% of the body weight compared to fat which is usually 10-30% of the body weight. Muscles can be built while fat can be lost simultaneously. This depicts the fact that while gaining more muscles and losing fat, little or no change in the numbers on the scale can or should be expected. In other words, you’re losing to gain and thus, not much difference may be observed on the scale.

As a matter of fact, fat is less dense compared to the body muscles or bones. The body composition of fat varies from individual to individual. A person who has 8% fat can possibly weigh more than another who has about 20% fat composition. This is one of the reasons why body weight should not be the litmus test or indicator for fitness.

The water composition of the body is 50-65% of the total body weight but excluding water present in the muscle and fat, it is about 10-25%. So water basically also accounts for a large part of the body weight. One can drop a few pounds by losing body water weight and thus, may be mistaken for weight loss which in the normal sense may not necessarily be the case.

The bones are the basic structure for the frame of an individual. Your bones account for 15% of your body weight. If you carry a lot of weight on your frame, there is a possibility that your bones are bigger and stronger than someone with less weight and a smaller frame. Therefore, the weight of your bones can affect the overall weight of your body.

Organs of the body and other tissues can also contribute to the overall body weight of an individual but like stated earlier, the weight of these organs cannot be shed as they are required for the proper functioning of the body.

Here’s a little advice, the scale can become your worst enemy on your weight loss journey, so it’s better you take a measuring tape and check your inches for progress. Focusing on the scale can be misleading and hence killing your motivation. So focus on fat loss rather than weight loss.

Culled from The Guardian


  1. krek says:

    Thanks for the nice list!

  2. Molade says:

    Thank you for the information

  3. Obehi iruedo says:

    I need to loose weight

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