If you are working very hard to lose some weight, it can be very disheartening to see even the slightest increase in your weight on the scale.
While these changes in weight can be discouraging when you are doing everything possible to lose weight, it is important you understand that these fluctuations are quite normal.
Your weight will change every hour due to certain factors if you have the time to weigh and reweigh. A number of factors have been linked to these day-to-day weight fluctuations, and we will be dedicating this post to talking about as many of such fluctuations as possible (1, 5).
Here are 13 possible reasons why you experience these weight changes:
1. You took in more sodium than the normal gauge
There are several reasons why your body may retain some excess water. Excessive sodium intake is one of the reasons why you experience this excessive water retention. Your body will most likely retain more water on any day you take in more sodium than the normal dosage.
However, some people are more prone to this than others. For instance, if you eat fresh, whole foods often, and engage in regular workouts, any day you go for your regular workout and eat highly salty food, there are chances that your weight changes will most likely be more pronounced than someone who is used to higher salt intake.
Another factor that can contribute to how your body retains salt is mild dehydration. This may sound counter-intuitive, but drinking more water helps the body get rid of fluids and in the process excrete excess sodium (1, 2, 3).
2. A backed up plumbing
Your weight will slightly increase all through the day until you get rid of wastes stored in your bowels. You will look and feel bloated if things are backed up a little. When you delay in getting rid of the wastes in your bowels, you will weigh more than you would weigh when you empty your bowels completely. The important thing here is to ensure you take in adequate fiber, stay hydrated, and stay as active as possible to enable your bowel to do what it is designed to do best (1, 2).
3. You probably weigh yourself at different times of the day
You can weigh more in the night than you weigh in the morning. The salts you take all through the day can be held accountable for this. Another reason why you may weigh more at night than you weigh during the day is the foods you ate all through the day that are not fully digested and the wastes that are not excreted.
When you use the restroom in the morning and empty your bowels, you tend to weigh less. If you want to get the best reading, shed all clothing, empty your bowels take your bath, and weigh naked (5).
4. Your monthly period
One major factor that can account for weight fluctuations in women is the hormonal changes that occur before, during, and after your monthly menstrual cycle. This is because these periods can lead to increased fluid retention.
Most times, weight gains that are related to your monthly period can begin between 5-7 days before your monthly period and go away between days 3-4 of your period. These fluctuations in weight can be between 2-8 pounds and can vary from one individual to another (1, 2, 3).
5. You have been loading carbohydrate for a long time
Taking in a very moderate amount of healthy carbs is right for maintaining a healthy diet balance, but when you take in too many carbs and exceed your body’s calorie needs, you risk increased water retention and higher fat storage. Researchers have shown that every gram of carbohydrate your body stores as glycogen, your body tissues retain at least 3g of water along with the carbo, thereby increasing your weight (1, 2, 3).
6. You are taking medications that cause fluid retention or on the pill
Some medications come with weight gain as one of their potential side effects. In most cases, this weight gain is as a result of some hormonal changes that increase your appetite and make you take in more calories.
However, certain medications such as steroids can cause increased water retention which results in some weight fluctuations. The weight fluctuations caused by these steroids-induced water retention can be more than diet-based water retention and may not go away until you suspend the drugs (1, 4).
7. You might have drunk a ton of water before weighing
Staying as hydrated as possible is one of the healthy habits you must cultivate when trying to lose weight, but weighing after taking in more water could make the reading on your scale jump up a bit. Weight is not only the measurement of the amount of fat you have in your body. It also includes the weight of your body fluids, muscles, bones, organs, and wastes.
You tend to weigh less whenever you are dehydrated, but this does not in any way mean your health status is normal. For instance, if you spend a whole day drinking lots of fluids, you wake up, weigh and find out your weight dropped. Then you decide to take in a ton of water, weigh and discover you added 2-3 pounds. This does not imply you added 2 pounds of fat; what it means is that your body lacked adequate water the previous day (2).
8. You strength trained the previous day
Engaging in some weight-training exercises can enhance your weight loss in the long run, but it can make your weight seem higher. It is possible for you to spend the whole day eating the healthiest foods and engage in a really good workout with your physical fitness trainer and still wake up weighing higher.
Strength-training exercises like weight-lifting can lead to inflammation, which is not a bad thing altogether. Anytime you spend in the gym lifting weights, you are simply creating tiny tears in the fibers of your muscle. These torn fibers will later build up with good nutrition leading to changes in muscle tone, body shape, and muscle size. When these muscle repairs are going on, your muscle will demand more water which ends up showing a higher weight reading on the scale (1, 2).
9. The weekend could be responsible
According to a study conducted in first-shift Monday-Friday workers, people seem to weigh less during working days with Friday mornings recording their lowest points. These workers’ weights shot up during the weekends and got to their highest points on Monday mornings (5).
10. Lower weight readings the previous day
One important thing you must always keep in mind when working hard to lose weight is to remain resilient even when you record some good success. It is common for people on a weight loss diet and workout plan to relax when they notice they are doing great with their weight loss campaign.
It seems like a psychological thing for people to work out more vigorously and for longer when they see their weight shoot up. A higher weight reading inspires people to avoid calorie-laden foods and does whatever else they think can help them lose weight when they see such higher readings on the weight scale.
But the moment they notice the slightest drop in the number on the scale, they throw caution to the wind and eat whatever they see with reckless abandon. If you eat anyhow, skip your workouts and pay no attention to habits that keep fats away, your weight readings will be higher (2).
11. Taking too much sugary alcohol
Drinking is obviously a part of being young and lively. And whether you are a frequent drinker or an occasional one, alcohol could be the reason why your weight fluctuates often. While it may not be possible to stay away from alcoholic drinks completely, you can try to balance your alcoholic drinks with your other calorie intakes during the day. If you plan to hang out with friends in a bar, try to keep away from sugary alcohols (3).
12. Inadequate hydration
Water will always be a key influencer to your weight fluctuations whether you take enough of it or not. For instance, if you do a lot of cardio exercises, not drinking enough water will lead to lower weight readings on the scale since such exercises burn off several tons of water (3, 4).
13. You are probably constipated
A number of factors can cause constipation such as your monthly periods, your stress levels, lack of sleep, travel habits, and your diets. If a backed up system strikes you, taking in more water and foods that are rich in fiber will help you keep things moving around your bowels (3, 4).
There are several reasons your weight can jump up or down on the weight scale daily. Jumping on the scale often will make you feel your weight loss efforts are not yielding the desired results. You may want to consider checking your weight less often to reduce your anxiety.
Rakib Sarwar, B Pharm, is a certified pharmacist who has more than six years of professional experience in pharmaceutical marketing. He has accomplished his Bachelor of Pharmacy, from The Khulna University in Bangladesh. In his lifetime, he has gained vast experience which he generously uses to improve the livelihoods of the people he serves from day to day.
Currently, Rakib Sarwar is working in Delta Pharma Ltd. He has been working with this reputed pharmaceutical organization since early 2011. Here he is responsible for the promotion of drugs and medical products, including visits to gastroenterologists, pediatricians, gynecologists and pharmacies, KOLs (heads of departments in hospitals and private sector); organizing all local events (group presentations, lectures, workshops) for Health centers and pharmacy chains, designing sales strategies, finding key customers, product positioning and preparation of promotional materials; organization, preparation and participation in international congresses, accompanied by a group of physicians; realization of Commercial activities in pharmacies, managing marketing budget; monitoring sales results, data analysis, and action planning; and monitoring competition by gathering current marketplace information on pricing, products, new products, delivery schedules, and more.