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How Accurate are Bathroom Scales?

If you like to keep track of your weight using bathroom scales, you have probably asked yourself how accurate they really are. Does the fluctuation in weight they seem to be registering have anything to do with your diet and exercise regime, or are they simply showing random figures at times? 

As it turns out, bathroom scales are not accurate. In fact, they can be off by as much as 5 percent, depending on the model and how well they have been calibrated. 

In order to achieve the best results, don`t move them around, make sure that they are calibrated properly, and weigh yourself at the same time of the day every time. You should also invest in quality bathroom scales, as the cheapest models may turn out to be inaccurate than most. 

Here’s everything you need to know about bathroom scale accuracy, and how to maintain them over the long term. 

How Do I Know if My Bathroom Scale Is Accurate?

You won’t actually know if your scales are accurate, so the best course of action might be to weigh yourself at the doctor’s office, and then try to find a location in your home where you can match that number as soon as you get home. Try stepping on the scale a few times in the same way to see if you get the same result. If you do, you know that your scale is currently accurate.

Another trick that might work is grabbing something the exact weight of which you are familiar with, something with an already accurately measured weight (like dumbbells, for instance). If the number on your scales matches the weight of the object, you`re good to go.

For an even more rigorous test, use two objects, preferably of the same weight. Measure them separately first, and then repeat the process together. If the math is correct, meaning that the combined weight of the objects measured separately matches their weight when measured together, your bathroom scales are accurate.

Which Type of Bathroom Scale is Most Accurate? 

According to a 2013 study, digital scales are more accurate than traditional dial scales, as they provide more consistent results. 

Unlike analogue scales, digital ones have fewer moving parts, making them less susceptible to the inevitable wear and tear that happens over time. This means that analogue scales, especially if used for a long time, are much more likely to show inaccurate readings. 

It is also important to note that digital scales require less calibration, are more precise and with the risk of stating the obvious, they are much easier to read. With an analogue scale, reading the decimal measurements sometimes proves to be quite challenging, even for those with an excellent eyesight. Determining exactly where the line is pointing to is almost mission impossible. 

Granted, knowing your precise decimal measurements is not always a necessity, but can sometimes prove helpful.

Can Bathroom Scales Lose Accuracy?

Yes. Over time, bathroom scales can lose their accuracy and have to be replaced. The good news, though, is that there are things you can do to preserve their accuracy and keep them running perfectly for a long time. Basically, it all comes down to proper maintenance.

The first important thing to remember is to replace the batteries regularly. Dying batteries can still provide enough power for the scale to work, but they are more likely to cause faulty readings. Needless to say, always opt for good quality batteries – they are longer lasting and less likely to cause faulty readings once they start running out.

Also, remember not to overload your scales (be aware of the maximum weight they can bear) and keep them clean. Of course, you should not actually wash them, as water might damage them. Cleaning them with a damp cloth or alcohol-based wipes will do the trick.

The environment of the space where the scales are kept also plays a significant role. Ironically, a bathroom is probably the worst place for a bathroom scale. Though practical, it can be detrimental to the proper functioning of the scale, due to the level of humidity. Inappropriate temperatures can affect the readings on a scale, so the environment should never be too hot or too cold.

Last but not least, be gentle with your scale. It might sound redundant to say that you should never shake them, throw them, or push them around, but it is sometimes easy to forget just how sensitive they are.

Why Do My Scales Say Two Different Weights?

Provided that your scale is accurate, there might be two reasons why it shows two different weights when you measure yourself.

Firstly, our body weight fluctuates over the course of the day, depending on our level of hydration and whether or not we’ve eaten, when and how much. In other words, if you measure yourself at different times during the same day, chances are that you will get different results. 

The way to circumnavigate this, in case you need to keep track of your precise weight, is to always measure yourself at the same time of the day. This will ensure more consistent results.

The other reason might have something to do with the location where you measure yourself. The scales’ components are typically very sensitive. Moving them an inch to the left or right might cause them to display different results. So remember to always measure yourself at the same spot in your house, on a surface that is hard and flat.

How to Weigh Yourself Correctly? 

Although weighing yourself correctly is not exactly rocket science, there are a few things that you should do in order to get the most precise results possible.

First and foremost, always measure yourself at the same time, preferably in the morning, giving your body enough time to process and digest everything you’ve eaten overnight. 

It is advisable to measure yourself before you actually take a shower in the morning. Our skin is able to absorb a lot of water, so if you measure yourself after showering, the weight represented on the scale will not be your true weight. 

There are also some other things that can mask your true weight. For example, eating foods that are high in sodium (such as fast food, cold cuts, fried food, etc.) tends to cause your body to retain fluid and increase your weight. The same happens during a menstrual cycle. You can, of course, pay attention to what you eat the night before the morning you are supposed to measure yourself, but there is nothing you can do about your menstrual cycle. Still, it is helpful to be aware of this fact. 

Furthermore, when measuring yourself, make sure that your scale is sitting on an appropriate surface. Placing your scales on a carpet or any surfaces that are not flat and hard can greatly influence their readings. Floor tiles are also a bad idea, as they are often not perfectly level. Find a spot in your home with a hard, flat and level surface and always measure yourself there.

Last but not least, studies have shown that regular weigh-ins are very beneficial for the process of losing weight. They have determined that people who weigh themselves on either a daily or a weekly basis (both are considered more or less equally helpful) find it easier to stay motivated during this difficult process of weight loss and they are also less likely to gain the weight they lose back. 

Take Good Care of Your Bathroom Scales 

Even though bathroom scales aren’t the most accurate tool for staying on top of our weight, they are still a very helpful one. Understanding that they are not always accurate and the best ways to weigh yourself will certainly help you get the most precise readings, helping you stay on top of your weight gain or loss progress. 


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