Hey Angels and Alphas,
If you’ve made a habit of getting on the scale every morning, or you just weight yourself every day, you’ll probably see the number on the scale change every time you step on it – from day to day.
Maybe you gained weight, or lost it, or your weight increase is reflective of something that’s less impactful. The fluctuations you’ll see on the scale from one day to the next are all completely normal.
If, for example, you always ate, drank, and exercised at the same time every day, then weighed yourself at the same time, then your weight would be relatively balanced over time (granted you drank the same amount of water and ate the same amount of food.) However, that’s just not realistic.
That’s why we’re here today to talk about the many reasons standing behind the day-to-day fluctuations you see in your weight… so you can get a better idea of when you should be weighing yourself for the most effective tracking.
#1 – THE PHYSICAL WEIGHT OF FOOD AND DRINKS
Foods and drinks are essential for supplying the body with nutrients and calories that obviously influence weight gain. But they also have a mass completely unrelated to their calorie count which also influences your body weight – in the short term.
Let’s say you drink two cups of water and immediately step on the scale – we’ll, you’ll be a pound heavier due to the mass of the liquid. But this has nothing to do with gaining a pound of fat or muscle.
This is why most people choose to weigh themselves early in the morning, before they have consumed anything. But even if you ate a big meal at dinner, you haven’t given your body enough time to digest it, so in the morning the number on the scale will likely be bigger than usual.
#2 – SWEAT
Water loss is a massive factor when it comes to snap weight fluctuations. This is one of the reasons why many athletes succumb to dehydration during intense, long workouts. Dehydration of only 2 percent of body weight, that then isn’t replenished before weighing in, results in a 3-pound “loss” for the average 160-pound adult.
Pro tip: weight yourself before and after workouts so you can get an idea of how much water you sweat out and how much fluid you should replenish.
#3 – CARBS… AND SODIUM
A lot of quick jumps in weight are just changes in fluid balance. Sweat and dehydration can create losses of fluids, but water retention from sodium and carbs can cause the opposite.
When an athlete is carb-loading, for example, they’re consuming a lot of carbohydrates to load the muscles (and the liver) with glycogen for energy to burn during training. And while this is great for energy availability, each gram of carbohydrates stored basically needs 2-3 grams of water to go along with it. As the carbohydrates are burned off, this water will be lost, but the weight gain is there – although temporary.
Moreover, sodium is another mineral responsible for fluid balance. Taking on a very salty meal can cause a slight imbalance in fluid levels between your vasculature and your gut, leaving you feeling bloated and puffy (as your body is trying to regulate fluids.) Managing sodium remains a tricky task for most athletes, and variables often vary from person to person.
#4 – HORMONES…
Even stress can cause short-term weight gain. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is usually elevated after workouts or other periods of intense physical or mental stress. This hormone increases inflammation around the body, leading to fluid retention, hunger, and changes in digestion and metabolism.
While there isn’t much we can do about our hormones and the way they impact our weight loss efforts, the best thing you can do is to work to reduce the stress you experience on the daily. With less stress and less general inflammation, more relaxation techniques, and a high antioxidant diet, we can alleviate the negative effects of hormonal changes on our weight.
#5 – THE DAY OF THE WEEK
People are not stationary, and neither are their eating habits. Our eating habits tend to change throughout the week. Many people find that, for them, the week starts off healthy and with motivation and then declines as the week goes on, where the happy hour and cheat meals take over. Studies have shown that this exact eating cycle is reflected on the scale – people weighed more between Saturday and Tuesday before their weight decreased again as the body processed everything and adjusted to the intake of the new week.
This is, again, completely normal, and is not attributed to long-term weight gain. If you want to just reduce this weekly fluctuation, aim to stay consistent with your eating habits. Just know this likely won’t make or break your efforts.
Bringing it all together…
Weighing yourself every morning will open your eyes to the fluctuations our bodies experience on a daily basis. Then, you can easily connect the fluctuations on the scale to your workouts, stress, eating habits, and so on… by doing this, you’re getting a much better understanding of how your body reacts in a more holistic, full-spectrum sense.
Even though seeing this constantly changing number can be really stressful by itself, and even demotivating, research has documented that obsessing over this can lead to a negative mindset. Whether you are looking to gain weight or lose weight, just remember the day-to-day matters much less than the long-term trend.
Weigh yourself each morning, write it down, and do that for 7 days. Then combine the numbers you got and divide by 7. Keep that as your average weight for the week, and do that for 8 weeks. You’ll see a clear trend toward gaining weight or losing weight, instead of focusing on the day-to-day, full of its fluctuations and ups and downs that do not translate to real weight changes.