Is your scale stuck? 

Sometimes our scale doesn’t move as rapidly as we’d like to see. If this is the case, you may be experiencing body recomposition, a hormonal shift, a health issue, or a response to medication. Each of these are discussed below.  


You may be experiencing a body recomposition.  

This happens when you build muscle while also losing fat (7). Yes – it is possible to gain muscle and lose fat in the same time period (7). You can determine whether this is the case by taking weekly, or bi-weekly, progress photos, and by performing circumference measurements. I have clients do both at the beginning of a program, so we have a baseline of where they start and we can track progress along the way. This is especially helpful when clients don’t see the scale moving and its awesome to realize that they have experienced a recomp!  


You may be experiencing hormonal changes.  

Abnormal reproductive hormone levels (mainly estrogen and progesterone) can result in the body holding fat (4, 6). Fluids (water) typically fluctuate during a female’s monthly cycle and this can result in the scale increasing, as well (4, 6).  


You may be experiencing leaky gut, inflammation, or bloating and these could be linked to medical issues.   

Gut health is key in many health issues and is linked to food sensitivity, skin problems, bloating, lethargy and nutrient malabsorption (1,5,8). Processed foods, and food items that the body doesn’t tolerate well, can lead to bloating and water retention, but food intolerance may also be linked to health issues including irritable bowel syndrome (1,5,8). 


Medications may be causing weight or water to hang on.  

Prescription medications, including blood pressure medicine, corticosteroids, birth control, pain relievers and anti-depressants can results in water retention and weight gain (2, 3).  


What should you do?  

If you have determined that your scale isn’t moving due to something other than body recomposition, seek clinical advice. Consider speaking with your primary care physician and specialized practitioners to help identify what the issue may be. Sometimes it can be combination of issues and sometimes it’s a simple fix, but health issues need to be ruled out, as health is first en route to fitness!  

Have questions? Send me a note!  

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1) Arrieta, M. C., Bistritz, L., & Meddings, J. B. (2006). Alterations in intestinal permeability. Gut, 55(10), 1512-1520.  

2) Blankfield, R. P. (2005). Fluid matters in choosing antihypertensive therapy: A hypothesis that the data speak volumes. The Journal of the American Board of Family Practice, 18(2), 113-124. 

3) Clyburn, E. B., & DiPette, D. J. (1995). Hypertension induced by drugs and other substances. In Seminars in Nephrology,15(2), 72-86.  

4) Crandall, D. L., Busler, D. E., Novak, T. J., Weber, R. V., & Kral, J. G. (1998). Identification of estrogen receptor β RNA in human breast and abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 248(3), 523-526.  

5) Nanda, R. R. H. C. D., James, R., Smith, H., Dudley, C. R., & Jewell, D. P. (1989). Food intolerance and the irritable bowel syndrome. Gut, 30(8), 1099-1104. 

6) Stachenfeld, N. S. (2008). Sex hormone effects on body fluid regulation. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 36(3), 152. 

7) Tinsley, G. (2017). How to improve body composition, based on science. Healthline. 

8) Visser, J., Rozing, J., Sapone, A., Lammers, K., & Fasano, A. (2009). Tight junctions, intestinal permeability, and autoimmunity celiac disease and type 1 diabetes paradigms. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1165, 195.