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Why is the scale not moving?

There are many things that influence the number we see on the scale, and it can be discouraging or frustrating when it doesn’t move. Here are some common reasons why you might think you are doing everything right, but are not “seeing results”:

  1. The time of day- This is important because weight fluctuates throughout the day due to water and food intake. It can be disheartening to be comparing the weight you had on one day on an empty stomach to another day where you weighed yourself right after dinner. It is beneficial to weigh yourself at the same time every day. The most consistent read is weighing yourself first thing in the morning before you have had anything to eat or drink.

  2. Foods you ate the day before: High-carb or high-sodium meals can increase water retention, and this will cause the scale to go up. This DOES NOT mean you gained 2 pounds of fat overnight, rather your cells are holding onto some extra water. Once you return to a normal nutrition routine, the water will flush out.

  3. Fat vs. Muscle: A pound of fat takes up more space than a pound of muscle. If you are being consistent, you may be seeing fat loss and muscle gain at the same time. The scale doesn’t know the difference, which is why I encourage clients to take body measurements or progress photos. These are great references for fat loss. Another way to gauge progress is to see if your clothes are fitting differently. If they are fitting better, you are still on the right track.

  4. Cycle fluctuations: Women experience different levels of water retention and bloating throughout their cycle. Seeing a sudden increase around menstruation is not unusal. Do not be worried! Stick to eating balanced, and the bloating and water retention will subside.

If you read this post and realize that you are at a weight loss plateau rather than any of the explanations above, feel free to reach out to me directly! I can help you work through a plateau.


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Hi, my name is Katelyn Greenleaf, Registered Dietitian, Nutritionist

NuLeaf Nutrition strives to...

1. Provide scientifically-backed information to help athletes find a nutrition plan that fits their individual health/fitness goals.

2. Educate people in achieving optimal nutrition in attempts to prevent the development of chronic diseases. 

3. Improve total health by emphasizing balance in the diet and physical activity.

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