Normal Weight Fluctuations on the Scale
Everyone wants to see that scale number go down. However, weight fluctuations are 100% normal. The problem is that fluctuations can be very discouraging and emotionally taxing to dieters who step on the scale and notice they’ve gained a few pounds overnight. I always remind my HCG DIET and SYNERGYrx medical weight loss patients that jumps of 2-3 lbs are usually inflammation and water. It is important to remember that the average adult’s weight can fluctuate between 2-5 pounds over the course of a day or a few days. For those who weigh themselves frequently, this may be cause for frustration and create a loss of inspiration and motivation. Please remember that our weight on the scale doesn’t provide the full picture of what is going on inside our bodies. Fluctuations in weight are normal, and in many cases, can be caused by changes in water retention. More body water translates to an increase in weight and less body water translates to a decrease in weight. This leaves body fat and muscle mass unaffected.
Water Retention and Body Composition
There are many reasons why an individual’s body weight can fluctuate and the biggest contributor is water retention. We have to remember that the human body is approximately 45-75% water. Therefore, changes in how much water our bodies are retaining can affect the number we see on the scale.
There are many factors that influence how much water our body can play with. Here are the most common ones:
- Sodium: Sodium, also referred to as salt, is essential for normal body processes and is a compound that regulates water content. Consuming excess sodium leads to water retention, and therefore, weight gain on the scale.
- Exercise: Exercise can cause water loss through perspiration, which leads to immediate weight loss, especially if you are not hydrating sufficiently. On the other hand, if you consume more water than you lose, you may see a slight increase in weight. On the flip side, if muscles get sore there can be a gain of water mass.
- Glycogen levels: Glycogen is the body’s stored form of carbohydrates. In order to store glycogen, the body also retains water. This means that the more glycogen you have, the more water you retain, which can lead to an increase in weight. On the contrary, if you lose a significant amount of your glycogen stores, which is often the result of a low-carbohydrate diet, you will lose a lot of water, and therefore, see a lower number on the scale.
- Menstrual cycle: It’s normal for women to see a slight weight increase due to increased water retention right before they start their period. This is because of fluctuations in certain hormones.
- Medications: Some medications cause your body to retain more water.
- Dehydration.: This might seem counter-intuitive, but being dehydrated causes the body to retain more water.
- Meal and drink consumption.: Food and liquids are heavier than most people realize. If you eat a meal that also consists of a couple of glasses of fluids and then go weigh yourself, you are going to see an increase in weight. To avoid this, try to weigh yourself first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything.
- Bathroom Use .: Normal bodily excretions (urine and feces) can weigh a couple of pounds and can cause weight to fluctuate.
How to monitor body composition while keeping water weight in mind
If you notice undesirable results on a specific day, don’t let this discourage you. If you’ve been exercising more and being consistent with your diet, it is likely that these test results are due to water retention. Keep being consistent with your diet and exercise routine and wait until the following week to test yourself again. You will likely see favorable results at this time.
In order to minimize weight fluctuations due to changes in water retention, here are some tips for obtaining the most accurate body composition test results:
- Test in the morning: Test in the morning after you’ve gone to the bathroom and before you’ve consumed any liquids and before you’ve engaged in any exercise.
- Test once a week: Test yourself once a week on the same day. For example, test yourself every Sunday or Monday morning.
- Meal timing: The night before you weigh yourself, try to eat your last meal around the same time. This will help minimize any digestive changes that could alter your results.
- Exercise: Be consistent with your exercise the day before. This can mean that you always exercise the day before your test or that this will always be a rest day for you. Sticking to a specific pre-test workout routine will ensure that there are no changes in water retention due to exercise.
- Clothes.: Be consistent with what you wear. While this will not affect the BIA test results, it can affect your weight.
Overall, it’s important to try and keep your testing condition the same as your first body composition test.