Seeing weight fluctuation on the scale almost every day can be aggravating, especially if you’re actively trying to lose weight for your health. If you weigh yourself frequently throughout the week (some people do it daily or every other day), you’ve no doubt seen the scale produce varying numbers without much rhyme or reason. In a span of just 48 hours, you could see a 4-7 lb. difference. If you’ve been working on healthy behaviors, what’s the deal?
Well… there is rhyme and reason. Your body weight naturally fluctuates every day for a lot of innocent reasons. However, it’s totally understandable why seeing a sudden spike on the scale might be a real mood-killer. But rest assured, you shouldn’t read too far into that number and jump to conclusions. Here’s why.
Why Weight Fluctuation is Natural
Your bodyweight moves up and down all day, every day for a number of known factors:
Time of Day
You’ll probably see a 2-4 lb. difference if you weigh yourself at different times during the day. If you weigh yourself first thing in the morning after using the restroom and before breakfast, the number will likely be smaller than if you had waited until evening. If you frequently check the scale, eliminate this variable by weighing yourself at the same time of day, preferably in the morning before you’ve eaten.
High-Sodium and High-Carb Foods
Foods that are high in sodium (salt) and carbohydrates can cause water retention that adds temporary pounds. Your weight might spike as you notice a little bit of bloating, but this will subside. You may be able to minimize water retention by cutting back on sugary drinks, alcohol, and processed foods.
When you exercise, you burn off energy (calories). You also sweat, which can help you lose a little bit of water weight. However, if you’re staying hydrated throughout your workout, you might not see an immediate difference on the scale. The water you drink replaces the water you’ve lost while sweating during exercise.
Changes in Hormones
Changes in your hormones can also make your body retain more water and gain a little bit of water weight. This is also why many women complain about stomach bloat before or during their menstrual cycle. You may notice that your weight is higher than normal on the first and second day of your cycle, but it will generally even out later in the week.
The Weight of Food
Food naturally has its own weight to it. Having food contents in your stomach can make the number on the scale higher than if your stomach was empty. This is especially noticeable after eating a large meal. Similarly, bowel movements can cause your weight to fluctuate in the opposite direction by lowering the number on the scale.
Other Factors that Affect Weight Fluctuation:
- Medications that cause water retention
- Alcohol intake
- Illness or chronic health conditions
- Stress levels
- Amount and quality of sleep
The Bottom Line on Weight Fluctuation
You can’t always control the above factors, but you can control your daily routine and practice healthy behaviors that will keep your weight in check long-term. If you see the scale fluctuating often within the same 2-5 lbs., try to relax a little bit. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration that are beyond your control. This is why many health experts suggest you only weigh yourself once per week or bi-weekly. But if you are seeing a difference of five pounds or greater, it could be more than just water weight. Consider revisiting your behaviors and think about what could have caused the increase.