DO NOT FREAK! You did everything right all week…ate right…worked out…got lot’s of sleep. Then, you stepped on the scale, preparing yourself for a big weight loss celebration, only to see you’d only lost a whopping 1/2 POUND! I’d venture to guess we’ve all been there! BUT, did you actually gain? Truth…the number on the scale can actually fluctuate from day to day!
I’ve read and listened to multiple opinions by experts on how many days you should weigh-in when you’re on a weight loss plan. Personally, I think it’s what you’re comfortable with and what won’t make you stress. Ultimately it’s about being healthy, getting strong and how you feel about yourself. The actual number on the scale shouldn’t matter if you’re healthy. However, let’s be realistic…we all do it!
In my own life, I look at it as a reality check to keeping me on track and prefer to jump on the scale 1-2 days a week. I don’t freak out if I’ve gained a few…maybe those were well earned pounds from overindulging! In fact, in anticipation of this blog I actually weighed myself after my “treat night” on Saturday. My lovely scale said I’d gained 5 pounds! Now…let’s be clear here…I did not gain 5 pounds of FAT in one night! OR maybe there were other reasons…
If you are on a weight loss plan and want to use the scale as a gauge to monitor just be aware, gains and losses of your weight can be reflective of something less impactful, like simple fluctuations in your daily life.
Here are some of the biggest factors broken down:
- Physical weight of food and drinks – Food and drink have mass which is completely unrelated to calorie count which can influence your body weight in the short term. If you drink two cups of water, then step on the scale, you will be a pound heavier. But, that doesn’t mean you’ve gained a pound of fat. For this reason, it’s best to weigh yourself first thing in the morning.
- Carbs and sodium – Sweat and dehydration can create losses, but water retention from carbohydrates and sodium causes temporary weight gain. Each gram of carbohydrates stored requires 2-3 grams of water to go with tit. This water will be lost as the carbs are burned off, which is why the gain is only temporary.
- Sweat – Water loss is a big factor in quick weight fluctuations. Dehydration that isn’t replenished before weighing in results in a weight loss.
- Day of the week – Eating habits often change throughout the week. Typically the week starts off with healthy expectations and sometimes declines as the week goes on. Best way to avoid this fluctuation is to aim and maintain a consistent eating schedule throughout the week.
- Hormones – The stress hormone, cortisol, can be elevated after workouts or stress. Cortisol can cause inflammation in the body, mess with digestion, fluid retention, hunger and metabolism. Females are also more prone to weight fluctuations due to menstrual cycles.
- Bowel movements (I got all the glamorous details) – If you are a bit backed up, that can add up when you step on the scale. Proper hydration and a fibrous diet high in plant foods will help move food waste through the intestines.
Bottom Line: weighing yourself each morning allows you to connect the fluctuations on the scale…connect the dots…and get an overall understanding of how your body reacts. However, seeing a constantly changing number can be extremely frustrating and just downright exhausting and depressing. I say do what feels right for you…maybe it’s not weighing yourself at all and just going by how you feel and how your clothes fit. But, if you do feel the need to have that concrete number, remember that a weight gain isn’t always a weight gain.