Unhappy With Your Weight? 7 Reasons Your Scale Might Be Wrong

Updated: Feb. 09, 2017

What if that number you see on the scale each morning isn't actually how much you weigh? These surprising factors could influence your weight.

istock/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

You weigh yourself on different days each week

In a Cornell University study published last year, researchers analyzed the food and weight diaries that 80 people kept for up to a year. They found that peoples’ weight fluctuated considerably throughout the week—many people were heaviest on Mondays (blame decadent weekend eating) and lightest on Fridays. Keep weigh-in days consistent for a more accurate assessment.

istock/Brian Jackson

You miscalculate your clothing

File this one under “Yes, scientists have actually studied this.” When University of North Dakota researchers weighed people naked and clothed at various times of the year, they found that men can subtract 2.5 pounds for their clothing and women can shave off around two pounds, on average.


You don’t factor in muscle gain

You’ve heard that muscle is denser than fat. In fact, it takes up only about a third as much space. If you start a strength-training routine, the number on the scale might not budge, but you could still lose inches and drop a clothing size or two.


You just guzzled water

It’s called water weight for a reason: Drinking 16 ounces of water can translate to about one pound of weight. So if you hop on the scale soon after drinking an entire water bottle’s worth, you might not like what you see—but it’s just a temporary gain.


You weigh yourself after an intense workout

On the flip side, if you weigh in after a sweaty cycling class, your weight might be lower than usual because of fluid loss. Hop on the scale if you need a confidence boost, but know that your actual number could be a pound or two higher.


You indulge in a high-carb or high-sodium meal

Salty foods cause your body to hoard extra water, which can temporarily pad the number on the scale. So can certain carbs. When you consume more refined carbs than your body needs, you store the excess as glycogen in your liver. Glycogen attracts water, so eating a heaping bowl of pasta can bloat you the same way a salty meal does.


You’re constipated

Being backed up for a couple of days can add anywhere from one to four pounds to your scale readout.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest