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April 12, 2021 9 min read

Even though seeing how much you weigh using a scale is probably the most common way to see if you have lost or gained any weight; however, they are not always accurate and are not able to account for many factors that also have an effect on your body weight.

For this reason, it is important to know other ways to see if you have lost any weight without using a scale. In fact, weighing yourself on a scale every day can be bad for your weight loss journey. Since the scale is not accurate and does account for changes such as undigested food or what time of the day it is they can be very misleading.

Additionally, muscle weighs more than fat meaning that you may have lost some weight but gained it back in muscle. This can leave you feeling as if you are not seeing results when in fact you are. Before we dive into how to weigh yourself without a scale, let’s discuss some reasons using a scale may not be such a great idea in detail.

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A Few Reasons Not to Use a Scale

  1. Can leave you feeling disappointed: If you jump on the scale first thing in the morning and if the number it shows is not what you were expecting, it really sets the mood for the day. In a discouraging way that leaves you feeling defeated and like all of your effort is not working. Feeling disappointed leads to a lack of motivation and confidence which in turn leads to stress and you may stop your healthy lifestyle altogether.
  1. Can lead to bad behaviors: Sometimes we will become infatuated with the number on the scale that we forget everything else that goes into maintaining a healthy weight. If we are consistently not seeing the results we want, we may choose methods that are not healthy for us to see the number on the scale get lower day by day, meaning methods such as restricting ourselves from food, overexerting ourselves while working out, or prematurely punish ourselves.

When trying to lose or maintain healthy body weight, it is important to remember it’s not the scale that matters. It’s the foods you eat and how active you are that really make the difference. Now that we got that out of the way, we can move on to learn 10 different ways to weigh yourself without a scale.

Close up tailor measuring tape on wooden table background

1. One Good Ol’ Measuring Tape

It may be an old-school method, but that doesn’t matter to us because it works! Measuring tape is still a very useful tool, even in this day and age. When measuring yourself, it is important that you measure properly. But how do you do that if you have no one around to help? It’s simple really:

  • First, remember your measurements will not change from day-to-day. Therefore, you should only take your measurements every 4-6 weeks.
  • Second, make sure you are measuring the same spot. The waist size is a great indicator of how much fat has been lost, which is why we recommend using the belly button as a reference point.
  • Hold the soft tape parallel to the floor and wrap it around your waist and hold the beginning of the tape at your belly button. Record the number that lines up with the start after it is fully wrapped around the waist.
  • Repeat this process every 4-6 weeks to see your progress.

Additional places to check your measurements for weight loss or muscle gain include your neck, biceps, triceps, thighs, and/or calves.

2. Body Fat Calipers

Being one of the most accurate ways to measure your body fat without a scale, body fat calipers had to be towards the top of our list. If you are having a hard time finding body fat calipers, try looking for them under their other common name, skinfold calipers.

The calipers are used to administer what is known as “the pinch test” to measure your body fat percentage. To be more specific, the skinfold calipers estimate the thickness of the subcutaneous fat, which is the fat located underneath the skin on specific parts of the body.

The measurements are taken at 3, 7, or 10 points. These points vary between men and women. For men, measurements are typically taken from:

  • The chest
  • The abdomen
  • The thigh
  • Triceps
  • Shoulder Blades

Once the measurements are taken they are entered into a formula that is used to calculate the body fat percentage.

How To Use Body Calipers:

  1. Typically the right side of the body is used for taking measurements. To begin, use your left hand to pinch and fold the skin at the point you are starting at, such as your chest or abdomen. Make a “C” shape using your thumb and index fingers to securely hold the pinched skin.
  1. Now grab a caliper with your right hand. Hold it perpendicular to the pinched skin and place the jaw around the skinfold. At this point, you should still be holding the skin with your left hand.
  2. Using your right thumb, press where indicated on the caliper to lock it in place. Remove the caliper from the skinfold and record the measurement. Do this a total of 3 times in the same spot and use the average in the formula to calculate the body fat percentage.
  1. Repeat this process for each point you wish to test. After a time, you will have a record of your progress that we promise will leave you feeling accomplished and proud.

When using calipers to measure body fat, it is crucial that the same amount of skin is grabbed at the exact same point of the body at the same time of the day each time the measurements are taken, which is typically once a month.

Even though you can use the calipers yourself, it is more common to find a personal fitness trainer or doctor to assist you. The accuracy depends on precision and correct measuring techniques.

4. Try On Old Clothes

Do you have a pair of jeans you keep in the back of your drawer hoping you will be able to fit into them again? Now is the time to whip ‘em out and give it a try. If you have been working hard to lose weight, trying on old clothes to see how they fit can be a real eye-opener regarding how much progress you have really made. Heck, you may even be surprised by how comfortable you feel in them!

Portrait Of A Mature Man Before And After Weight Loss On White Background

5. Before and After Photos

To have a successful weight loss journey many fitness professionals visually documenting it with progress pictures. Not only can you see changes to your body, but it also gives you a chance to celebrate your success.

Being able to see the results will keep you motivated and accountable, especially if sharing your progress with friends, family, or even on social media. When other people around you start noticing the differences, they will encourage you and provide the support that you may need on days you feel less motivated.

If you are feeling brave, we recommend finding Facebook groups with others who have similar fitness and wellness goals as you to have access to even more support! For even more motivation, check out these motivational quotes!

For the photos to be effective, make sure to take the photos in the same place and wear the same clothes. Keep in mind the more skin you show in the photos, the better you will be able to see the results.

This is why many people choose to wear swimsuits for their before and after photos. If you do not have someone to help you take the photo for you, propping up your phone camera and using the timer setting will work just as well. 

A person keeping track of food in a food diary.

6. Keep a Food Diary

Another great way to keep yourself accountable is to start keeping track of what you eat in a food diary or journal. This provides another visual representation of your goals and progress. In a world based on technology, there are tons of food tracking apps you can download.

By having the food diary on your phone, it will be easier to record what you eat and make sure you stay on track. When tracking your food, don’t forget to include the amount of water you drink and any supplements you take every day, such as a fat burner or a whey protein.

For the ambitious, you can combine a food journal, before and after photos, and monthly measurements to your weight loss plan to see the best results and have the most self-accountability! 

7. Water Displacement/Archimedes Principle

From here on out, the ways to weigh yourself without a scale are more scientific approaches, so put your “smart pants” on, grab a calculator, and follow along. For those who like science, we will start with the more common method using water displacement, which is scientifically referred to as Archimedes Principle.

Please note, the results of the test are not entirely accurate and should be considered an estimate. In order to complete a water displacement test, you will need the following:

  • Bathtub or a barrel you can fit in
  • Access to water
  • Non-permanent marker/Grease pencil
  • Someone to help you
  • Calculator
  • Tape measure / ruler

To complete the test, you will fill the bathtub enough so that you can be completely submerged. While you are submerged, the person who kindly agreed to assist you will use the marker or grease pen to mark the water level.

It is important that there is no water lost over the edges of the tub or barrel. Once your assistant has completed the mark, you may get out of the water. Next, mark the water level again where it sits without you in the water.

Using the tape measurer, determine the vertical distance between the two lines and record that number. Plug the number you recorded into the Siri Equation, which is the formula used to calculate body fat percentage.

Repeat this process every couple of weeks or so and compare the results. If the result is a higher volume that would mean you have gained weight since the last tests. On the contrary, if the result is lower, you have lost weight. 

8. Fulcrum / See-Saw Method

The see-saw method, also referred to as the Fulcrum method, can actually be a fun experiment for those who are able to do it and it is more accurate than a water displacement test. In order to complete the see-saw method, you will need the following:

  • Multiple 1-gallon cans of paint
  • A see-saw
  • Someone to help you
  • Pen and paper
  • Calculator

Once you have all the materials set up, you will need to sit on one end of the see-saw while your friendly assistant sets cans of paint on the other end one at a time until the see-saw is level.

If you do not have someone to assist you, it is still possible to complete the test, you will just have to guesstimate how many gallons of paint you need to start and continue adding one by one yourself until it will stay level with you are sitting on it.

Next, take the number of cans on the see-saw and multiply by 8.33 pounds (the weight of a gallon) to get a solid estimate of how much you weigh. You can then record this number to compare with future results.

9. Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)

Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) device uses small electrical currents (you cannot feel the currents) that run up and down your legs to measure body density. Even though they are quick and easy to use, they are not always accurate; meaning if you are going to spend your money on a techy device, there are better things worth putting that money to. If you want a BIA device that is more reliable, you will need to have access to a medical office in order to use one.

10. Bod Pods

Technically known as Air Displacement Plethysmography (ADP), a bod pod is an egg-shaped chamber that you sit in for an allotted amount of time, typically only a few minutes, that uses air to predict your body fat percentage based on body density. For the measurements to be accurate, you need to wear skin-tight clothing during testing.

While you sit in a bod pod, it will estimate your body density based on the relationship between volume and air pressure. Bod pods have quickly grown in popularity due to their great accuracy; however, they are usually very expensive and hard to find. If you are interested in trying a bod pod, we recommend checking out local universities.

Measuring Your Weight for Healthier Outcomes

Whether you are on a major weight loss journey or looking to gain muscle, it is important to remember that our body weight fluctuates all day, every day. As explained at the beginning, muscle weighs more than fat, meaning that even though you are losing weight because you are losing fat in the process, your weight may be higher if you have gained a decent amount of muscle.

It is also important to keep in mind that the whole process will require patience and self-accountability all the way through to the end. If you become serious about measuring your body fat percentage, it is very likely you will learn to rely on body fat calipers.

For those who prefer a more scientific approach, the water displacement or see-saw methods will be fun for you to complete and you will learn about your body. If you are the type who prefers simplicity, sticking to the old-school soft measuring tape and trying on your old clothes will provide you with the results you are hoping to see.

Lastly, regardless of the method you choose to measure your body weight without a scale, it is highly recommended you visually track your progress using before and after photos as well as a food diary or food tracking app. These are some of the best tools for keeping yourself motivated and on track during your journey to a healthy lifestyle!

Note:  Boost your protein intake (and your gains) with tender beef jerky made from real smokehouse brisket. Pick your flavor now!