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What do Weight Fluctuations Mean?

Written by Rev Nutritionist, Rebecca Desousa

What do these scale-weight fluctuations really mean?

Let’s say you wake up and the scale says you are 5 pounds heavier than yesterday! Is that even possible? 3500 calories= one pound of body fat, but you did not eat 17,500 so how did you gain 5 pounds? Short term fluctuations are caused by factors irrelevant to your long-term progress and does not mean you are losing muscle/gaining fat every time the scale swings.

5 reasons the scale moves like it does:

  1. Changes in Glycogen stores

    1. When we eat carbohydrates, they are stored as glycogen in various parts within our body. We can store somewhere between 50-100g of glycogen in our liver. It depends how much we store in the muscle on one’s body weight, body fat %, physical activity, etc.

    2. Each gram of carb storage causes your body to retain between 2.7-4 times the amount in water and the combo of increased carbs and water bound to each other causes body weight to increase. The amount you fluctuate can depend on how extreme the diet is and how low your carbs are. If you are eating fewer carbs than you burn for many days in a row, causing muscle glycogen storage to be low and then binge on a bunch of carbs your weight will go up the next day.

  2. Bathroom

    1. We store weight in our large intestines. There is not much more to say about this but weigh yourself before and after the bathroom and see the difference.

  3. Sodium

    1. Let’s say your diet is normal and one day you do have a little extra sodium and go over the normal amounts for you and maybe don’t drink enough water…guess what? Weight will be up the next morning. Increased sodium intake causes your body to retain water.

    2. There is a hormone called aldosterone. The more aldosterone = more water retention. When you keep sodium low, the body increases production of the hormone, so with already high levels of aldosterone coupled with a higher intake of sodium, the body holds water like crazy!

  4. Alcohol

    1. It is possible to incorporate alcohol in your lifestyle but in moderation because it can cause quite the fluctuation due to dehydration or effects on water balance. The next day after drinking your weight may be drastically down but once you become hydrated again you will see your weight starting to go right back up! Weight increases after drinking alcohol are usually due to consuming high calories throughout the day. This includes sugary drink mixtures.

  5. Other factors

    1. 1.Sickness, exhausting workout, certain supplements, menstrual cycle, etc.



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