If you are somebody who weighs themselves every day, you probably see the number on the scale change every time you step on it. Maybe you did actually lose or gain, but more likely, your weight is reflective of something less impactful; simple fluctuations in your daily life. If you have a routine where you ate, drank and exercised more or less the same times, then your weight would mostly be relatively balanced over time. However, that’s not something sustainable for most.
Let’s discuss a number of reasons that lead to fluctuations and what you can do about it.
1. Physical Weight of Foods and Drinks
Food and drink supply the body nutrients and calories that influence weight gain, loss or maintenance. These foods and drink have actual mass content which is different to calorie count, this does influence overall body weight in the short term.
If you for example drink half a liter of water and immediately step on the scale (even though water contains zero calories) you will weigh heavier due to that liquid weight. This does not mean you have gained an extra half a kilogram of fat or muscle. For this reason, it’s best to weigh yourself first thing in the morning before consuming anything. Also, if you ate a big meal the night before, chances are it has not digested yet and this will lead to an increase on the scale.
2. Sodium and Carbs
Another thing that can cause sudden-weight increase is your bodily fluid balance. Sweat and dehydration can create losses, but water retention from carbohydrates and sodium causes temporary weight gain.
Athletic situations, such as pre-workout or carb-loading, require high carbohydrate intake to load muscles and liver with glycogen to burn while training or in competition. While great for energy, each gram of carbohydrates stored requires 2–3 grams of water to go with it. This water will be used and lost as the carbohydrates are burned off, which is why the gain is only temporary.
Sodium is a mineral responsible for fluid balance and binging on a super salty meal can cause an imbalance in fluid levels between your gut and vasculature, leaving you with a bloated, puffy feeling as the body struggles to regulate fluids.
Losing water is a big factor in weight fluctuations, many people can succumb to dehydration during long, hard workouts, especially in warm humid conditions. Weighing yourself before and after working out can provide you with a ‘water rate’ of how much is lost. This can also allow you to replenish with fluids more accurately.
4. Which Day of The Week
Our eating habits change throughout the week. Typically, after the weekend, many start of with a healthy motivation or the feel for some type of detox after the weekend. This slowly declines as the week goes on and Friday approaches again. Take into consideration the cycles of eating and drinking habits throughout the week. If you want to maintain consistent, healthy eating habits, try to establish some type of balance throughout the week.
Cortisol, the stress hormone can be increased after exercise and other periods of high physical or mental stress. This hormone increases inflammation in the body which can interfere with digestion, fluid retention, hunger and regular metabolism.
Females are more prone to weight fluctuations due to the menstrual cycle. This with a combination of changes in eating habits and the retention of fluids play a big part in overall body weight fluctuations.
6. Movement of The Bowels
Just as food and liquids has mass going in, so can what comes out. If you are a bit backed up, that can add to the weight which you see on the scale. Aim to maintain regular bowel movements with adequate hydration and a fibrous diet high in variations of vegetables.
Weighing yourself each morning allows you to connect the fluctuations on the scale to your eating, workouts, stress, etc … and get an overall better understanding of how your body reacts in a big picture way.
However, seeing a constantly changing number can be frustrating and research has documented that constant fluctuations can lead to a negative mindset around weight. If you are looking to gain or lose, keep in mind the day-to-day matters less than the long-term trend.
What we encourage a lot of our clients to do when tracking their weight is to track every day of the week and then get an average of seven days. This gives us a better understanding of their actual body weight, fat and muscle and anything else that maybe causing the scales to go up or down.