The Scale Says I Lost Weight But I Don’t See it: Reasons Why and How to Keep Pushing Forward

a man steps on the scale to see how much weight he has lost

Written by Megan Ayala. Last Updated: September 28, 2021

It’s common for people to track their weight and feel underwhelmed. This is an experience that happens with people of all ages when they start paying attention to their weight for the first time.

If you are someone that is eagerly looking at the scale and wanting the number to go down, it’s important to understand why it doesn’t always matter. There is a lot more to losing weight and getting fitter than just seeing the number on the scale go down.

This is why more and more people need to look into the nitty-gritty details of losing weight.

Here is a breakdown of why you are losing weight but it’s not leading to results in the mirror.

Top Reasons You’re Losing Weight on the Scale But Not “Seeing” Results

1. You Might be Losing Water Weight

Research shows something as simple as mild dehydration over the course of a day can lead to 1-2% loss in water weight [1]. This is the weight that is solely comprised of water since the human body is 60% water.

When you start working out, it’s normal for the body to start shedding water. This happens for several reasons including the amount you sweat along with how much water weight is lost as the body begins to adjust to the workload.

The same applies to those who begin cutting calories.

You start consuming less water through your diet during the day. This immediately cuts down your water weight and it becomes more noticeable as the days go by.

A lot of people will start a workout plan and then realize they are losing weight rapidly. This is normal because water weight goes quickly. You can easily lose 1-2 pounds in a single session just because of the water weight that has left the body.

Don’t get excited about this because it’s just the first step of many.

2. Body Recomposition

You might not be seeing visual changes because the body is still adjusting to the diet + fitness plan. It might start slowly with you just losing weight and new muscle developing in its place.

This will not be noticeable because muscle weighs more. As a result, even a little bit in terms of body recomposition will feel like a lot on the scale.

A lot of people lose weight when it comes to their fat, but it comes back due to how much weight they are lifting in the gym. The developing muscle starts to cut into how your body looks or even what it says on the scale.

If you are noticing a drop in weight on the scale then it might be the body slowly adjusting itself without aggressive changes. The body’s first response will always be to adapt and that can happen in different ways including body recomposition.

3. Natural Fluctuations

Studies show a person’s body weight can fluctuate between 2-4 pounds without a few days [2]. This happens without you lifting a finger.

The reason is simply down to how the body digests food and how much you have consumed within that period. These minor fluctuations are a part of life as a human. They will happen whether you are young or old.

It’s best to prepare for these natural fluctuations and make sure you are well aware of what they’re all about. If the scale is saying you have dropped 3 pounds, this doesn’t mean it will lead to a visual change in the mirror.

It might just be normal fluctuations that can happen depending on what you ate or when you checked your weight during the day.

Tips: Stick With Your Diet & Fitness Plan and The Visible Results Should Come

1. Set Small Goals

The best strategy when it comes to dieting or working out is to set small goals. Don’t start with a massive goal such as getting shredded, lifting a significant amount of weight, and becoming a top-tier athlete. These are long-term goals that take time to develop.

You have to set smaller goals along the way.

A good example would be looking to increase the amount you lift by 5 pounds each session. Try doing this for as long as you can to show you are getting stronger. Eventually, you won’t be able to keep up but it will allow you to set new goals later on.

These smaller goals do matter because they keep you motivated. Don’t lose sight of these goals just to get to your long-term goal.

2. Structure Everything

You will want to structure each aspect of the dieting that is being done.

For example, you will want to have a meal plan etched out well in advance. The meal plan is going to make sure you have as much information as you need to go through the routine without thinking twice. A lot of people struggle because they have to do it all on their own.

It can become tiresome to do that. Set a strict routine and just follow it.

3. Be Patient

This is one of the hardest realities of dieting and working out.

You are not going to see results overnight regardless of what you try to do. Any solution that works overnight is similar to trying to harm yourself (i.e. starvation).

You want to keep things simple and look at a structured solution over a longer period. It is going to take months but it will be worth it in the end.

This is the mindset a person needs to have if the goal is to get your dream body. It is not going to happen easily and that is why it is worth it in the end. You have to fight for it.

Benefits of Following Proven Diet & Fitness Plans

1. Consistent Growth

The beauty of a diet and fitness plan has to do with consistent growth physically and psychologically.

You are going to learn a lot about yourself during this journey. You will begin to understand how your body functions and what it responds to whether this includes food or working out.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Best Diets for Weight Loss in 2021

These are little tidbits that will allow you to get stronger, healthier, and more confident. It takes time to work on these things but that is the beauty of making lifestyle changes.

2. Builds Good Habits

It is important to think about building good habits.

This is something people make mistakes with because they don’t take the time to build good habits. You want to change your perception of life as that is the only way to adjust when it comes to how you work out and how you live each day.

If you build good habits, you are less likely to veer off course later on.

This includes what you are eating when you are eating, and when you are working out. All of these details matter a lot over the long haul.

Summary

When it comes to losing weight on the scale, you are going to assume this will lead to getting fitter in the mirror.

This is not always the case and that’s normal. You are going to have to deal with subtle changes such as lost water weight, weight fluctuations, and body recomposition.

The weight might drop on the scale but it takes a while for changes to appear visually. This is why the most important thing a person can do is be patient during the journey. It’s the only way to see great results and enjoy the process along the way too.

If you are patient, you will see results.

References:

  1. https://www.withings.com/ca/en/health-insights/about-body-water
  2. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0232152