Weight Fluctuations? What Gives?

What I hear:

I gained a pound this week! What am I doing wrong?

My weight stayed the same this week! This is not working.

I only lost two pounds this week! I want to quit. 😦

I lost 5 pounds in 10 days – woohoo!

What I say:

What you should do at this point in time… RELAX!!!

You did not gain three pounds of fat overnight – it is impossible, and you did not lose three pounds of fat overnight either.

Body Weight Fluctuations of 1-5 Pounds a Day are Perfectly Normal.

1. Sodium: Think of your body like a pendulum scale. If you eat more salt than usual one day, your body will react by trying to balance the scale by retaining more water. Eat less salt than usual, and you have the opposite affect.

2. Alcohol: This diuretic causes dehydration in the body, which leads to water retention. The water retention is a result of your body wanting to make up for the difference in water levels drinking alcohol has caused.

3. Carbohydrate Intake: The body turns the majority of eaten carbs into glucose for immediate energy. Glucose that is not used for immediate energy, turns to glycogen. Glycogen is stored in the muscle tissue and liver, which is stored with water. Eating a low-carb diet often leads to weight loss as you use up your glycogen stores and the stored water is released. In the long run, fatigue can set in as your quick energy source (carbs) is depleted and not replaced.

4. Strength Training: Lifting weights or doing body weight exercises causes trauma to muscle tissue. This is how the muscle rebuilds itself and makes you stronger. But in order to rebuild the muscle fibers, your muscles retain water to help speed up the process in the cells.

5. Restroom Usage: 1-3 pounds a day of body weight change can be seen by using or not using the restroom. I’m not going to go into detail here, because I think this one is pretty self-explanatory.

6. That Time of Month: Most women are probably familiar with this one already. Experts believe that water is retained when hormones fluctuate, especially about one week prior to your monthly visitor. Once your cycle is over, the water is released.

7. Stress and sleep: High cortisol levels affect water balance in your body by regulating anti-diuretic hormone (ADH). ADH tells your kidneys how much water to hold back and pump back into your body.

PRO tip: Don’t stress about the number on the scale. It does not define you (up or down). Subtle changes are normal and should not affect you emotionally (for help with body image click here).  As you can see from the above, daily weights are mainly fluid shifts within your body. If you’re trying to lose weight, don’t think of it as a quick process (quick means fluid). Think of it as a long term goal where you slowly see progress over many months. You will see ups and downs along the way. This is totally normal as it’s not a linear process. Stay the course because your consistency is what maters most.

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