How could I possibly have gained 3 pounds since yesterday? I went to the gym, ate a salad for lunch, and didn't even eat any cookies after dinner. What's. The. Deal?!
Take a deep breath. You didn't really gain three pounds overnight. There are several reasons for this normal fluctuation.
Keep reading for the 5 most common reasons for daily weight change.
High sodium = water weight. If you've been trying to stay hydrated but adding a little salt to your meals, you may have found the culprit of your alleged weight gain.
A salty diet can also cause physical symptoms like bloating and constipation which may also be reflected on the number you see on the scale.
The best thing you can do to prevent this? Eat a little less salt. I know it seems simple, but it's effective. Most prepared or prepackaged foods already have a lot of salt, so try not to pile on any more.
Check labels and try to keep your sodium intake below 1,500mg per day.
2. You're Doing a Low Carb Thing Now
Low carb diets are all the rage right now.
If you're consuming fewer carbs you're probably getting more protein. And while protein has many benefits it doesn't always provide the necessary fiber that certain carbs do.
Suddenly your body isn't getting the whole grains, fruit, and other starches that it's used to. This can cause your body to retain weight and inhibit proper digestion. This is why many people on low or no-carb diets take a fiber supplement.
A supplement is one approach, but you could also try keeping high-quality carbs in your diet like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and remove the highly processed carbs like rice and pasta.
Wait, too much water AND not enough water cause weight gain?
When your body is dehydrated, your kidneys are alerted so that they can try to keep any water you do have in your system. Then, once you have a chance to drink a glass of water your body will keep that as water weight.
So the ultimate cause is the same - water weight. And to avoid this you can try to stay properly hydrated all the time. (See article on water consumption for more info).
And remember that changes in water weight don't reflect true pounds of fat lost or gained.
Generally speaking, exercise helps you lose weight. Your body burns calories and as a result, you lose fat. That's a simplistic way of explaining it, but usually exercise = weight loss.
However, if you've recently switched up your gym routine you may have noticed your weight actually went up.
What the heck?!
When you start a new program, especially if it's weight lifting or strength exercises you are building muscle mass. So your body is changing in its overall composition. The increased muscle is what is causing the number on the scale to change.
However, over time you will notice that this new lifting routine does help you lose weight. When you build lean muscle mass your body will burn more calories even when you're sedentary.
So don't give up on your new bad-ass strength program just yet.
5. Alcohol Intake
It takes the body longer to process alcohol than other foods and beverages. Not only that, it can slow down your digestion of other foods causing your body to retain more water.
And as we learned before, water retention means an instant change to the scale.
Over time excessive alcohol consumption can lead to weight gain. But weight gain after one night of drinking is not symptomatic of long-term weight gain.
How To Track Weight Accurately
So now you know that there are plenty of reasons for a 2 to 5 pound weight fluctuation. But how can you tell if you are actually gaining or losing weight?
The best strategy for weight monitoring is to weight yourself daily at the same time. Ideally, this is right when you wake up before you have consumed any food or water.
You can also get a more accurate measurement if you stay properly hydrated at all times.
But above all, remember that weight is just one of hundreds of ways you can measure your wellbeing.
If you're interested in learning more about weight-loss strategies and health promotion techniques, contact me today for a free intro coaching session.