Why do the scales fluctuate so much?

Ever step on the scales and wonder why does your weight fluctuate so much? If you’re on a weight loss journey, these constant fluctuations on the scale can make or break your day, week and even your diet.

It can be deflating to see, especially if you are sticking to a specific training and diet program and not seeing the results you’d expect. 

But that doesn’t mean you’re not making progress. In fact, there could be a range of reasons behind this weight fluctuation other than fat gain…

You’ve eaten a lot of carbs

Let me start by saying carbs are not the enemy here! A healthy diet includes a balanced ratio of protein, fats and carbs along your fruits and veggies. However, when it comes to weight fluctuations, a high carb intake can have a role to play. The body stores every 1g of carbohydrates along with 3-4g of water. So, if you have a higher carb day than normal you are likely to experience some water retention showing up on the scale the next day.

You’re dehydrated

Adults should be drinking between 2 and 3 litres of water a day. Easier said than done, I know. But if you’re not drinking enough water, your body may store extra, to prevent dehydration. On top of that, not drinking enough liquids can lead to poor brain function, digestive issues and a rise in blood pressure. So drink up!

You’ve consumed a lot of salt

Sodium, aka salt, causes the body to retain water when you have too much. This is because sodium binds to water and tries to maintain a stable state between fluid inside the cell and outside.

You’re feeling stressed

Not only are we less inclined to prioritise healthy eating and working out when we’re stressed, but elevated cortisol levels can also cause our bodies to retain water and show up on the scales.

You’re lacking sleep

Like stress, sleep and cortisol production go hand-in-hand, so your body may increase production when fighting fatigue. Just a single night of sleep deprivation can cause water retention.

You’re weighing in at different times 

If you regularly weigh in the morning then one day weigh early afternoon, you can see an unexpected change to your scale weight due to factors such as digestion and hydration levels.

You’ve consumed alcohol

Alcohol isn’t processed the same way as other beverages and foods, so it can take longer for your body to eliminate. It also slows the digestion of other substances, which can lead to water retention.

Your menstrual cycle

Weight fluctuations caused by bloating are common right before your the start of your period due to elevated estrogen levels. In fact, the average woman retains about 5 extra pounds of water weight in the days before her menstrual cycle.

An increase in appetite often occurs during this stage too, which could lead to overeating, which in turn can lead to an increase on the scales. However, over the course of a month this often evens out as appetite returns to normal.

Your bowel movements

Depending on how much and how often you have a bowel movement, you may notice a difference on the scale before and after a visit to the loo. In fact, one study found that the average weight of stool varies from 72g per day to a staggering 470g per day.

As you can see, there are many causes and reasons that contribute to fluctuations on the scale when, in fact, you are still losing weight, changing body shape, and progressing towards your goals.

That’s why I suggest tracking your progress in other ways:

Do your clothes fit better?

Are you sleeping well and have more energy?

Do you look and feel physically fitter and stronger?

Are you hitting your nutrition and fitness goals without feeling deprived?

Are you happy with your food choices and overall lifestyle habits?

These indicators portray a much more accurate picture of overall health, wellness, and happiness than a number on the scales.

Losing weight really doesn’t have to be complicated. If you want to transform your body and learn some life-long tools for managing your weight, get in touch to talk about my VIP coaching.

Coach Joseph Webb.

‘The number one rated Personal Trainer In Henley and Oxfordshire’

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