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Nicholas Rush, RDN, CDN

July 15, 2021

The frustrations of daily weight fluctuations!

When you’ve started your weight loss journey it’s tempting to weigh yourself everyday, seeking validation for your efforts. But daily weight fluctuations often leads to discouraging and deflating thoughts. You exercised, you ate healthy, you watched your calories, but the scale tells you that you are heavier than the day before! Daily weight can fluctuate by multiple pounds! Is it fat? Or maybe you’ve been lifting weight and you’ve gained muscle? Or is it something else? Or maybe a combination?! Here are some of the reasons for these pesky weight fluctuations.

Water

Your dietitian told you that staying well-hydrated is great for weight loss and so you chug. Good job! But the scale says you’ve gained weight and that’s because water is heavy, at approximately 1lb per 16 fluid ounces. The average US adult drinks around 39 ounces of water per day. That’s about 3 cups (or 1.5 lbs) shy of the MINIMUM recommended water intake of 8 glasses per day. If your normal is underhydration and now your hydrated you’ve increased your water weight and that’s a good thing.

Salt

A salty day will drive your scale weight up because salt causes water retention. Even when choosing healthier dining out options, restaurant food is likely salted more heavily than how you prepare it at home.

Carbohydrates

Like salt, a carb heavy meal can cause water retention. Carbohydrates are digested and reduced to a simpler form, glucose, which is very hydrophilic (water loving!). Therefore, combining a lot of salt with a carb heavy day can lead to a temporary water weight gain. So not necessarily fat, but water! However you must know that if you eat more calories than you burn, your body will store those store those extra calories as fat.

Hard Strength Training and Cardio Workout.

Pumping iron in the gym results in microtears in your muscles. Extra blood and water move to your muscle tissue to help repair the damage and build stronger muscles. This extra water and blood can cause temporary weight gain shown on the scale.

Cardio workouts also cause an increase in blood volume. Therefore you may notice workouts cause an uptick in the scale but on those recovery days you’ll likely see your weight go back to normal or lower.

Protein Supplements

Creatine also holds water and glycogen (stored energy) in the muscles causing that temporary “swole” look.

Constipation

Poop does not defy gravity! Constipated bowels can add pounds to your scale weight.

Menstrual Cycle

Weight changes during menstruations are caused by hormonal fluctuations that result in water retention and bloating.

Weekends

You may tend to watch what you’re eating during the week but weekends are “cheat days.”

The weighing yourself everyday pendulum

Your weight dropped today so you treat your self with a little extra food. Your weight increased the next day and feel guilty and eat less than your normal. Constancy is a key to weight loss, but you certainly don’t have to be perfect to achieve your physique or health goals.

Be Gentle

We are halfway through 2021, and it’s been one hell of a year. A year of constant stress, worry, loss, loneliness, and a lot of comfort eating. Wanting or needing to lose weight is stressful in it’s self. Don’t make it harder by weighing yourself everyday. It’s natural to have daily weight fluctuations so don’t stress about it.

Alternative ways to monitor your weight loss include, weighing yourself less frequently, monthly waist measurements, progress photos, and noticing how your clothes fit.

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