As a Consultant, I come across a lot of clients complaining that their weight fluctuates a lot when they check it every day. Now, I have been constantly advising my clients not to check weight daily but for some it is just a habit. Some clients check their weight multiple times in a day. This is a complete disaster. This just gives the weighing machine a total control over your mood.
For people who check their weight on a daily basis, some days the weighing scale gives good news and they are happy and some days, the weighing scale gives them bad news which affects them more than the days on which it made them happy.
It is not a crime to check weight on a daily basis. In fact many researches show that frequent weigh-ins have a positive impact on their weight loss journey. But the question is, how frequent?
I would say a weekly measure would be just fine.
But if you are one of those who stand up on a weighing scale every now and then, then you need to know what causes your weight to fluctuate so much so that on some days, if your weighing scale has decided to upset you, you know that weight is just a number and you need not give it so much importance!
- Glycogen– A store house of glucose in the body. Our body turns to it whenever in need of energy and generally each gram of glycogen is bonded to 3-4 grams of water. So, after a carb rich diet, when suddenly you move on to diets with low or no carb, you might see a sudden loss in the weight within a few days or week. Let me tell you, it’s just the water weight you lost where the sudden decrease in carbohydrate intake has depleted your glycogen stores and the amount of water bonded to the glycogen is lost.
- Salt intake – You are retaining water due to salt. Sodium has a lot to do with your water retention. Generally, our body tries to maintain a sodium/water concentration outside the cell walls. On some days, when you eat food rich in sodium, your body might hold extra water in order to maintain that ratio and you might see a difference on your weighing scale (on higher side). It’s the job of your kidneys to excrete the extra sodium from your body and until they do it, you hold on to that extra water weight.
- Muscle gains – If you are a beginner and have recently started working out, (when I say working out, I mean in the weights section of the gym and not on those expensive cardio machines), you may experience that even being on a fat loss program, your weight doesn’t change much or sometimes, it even increases. This is because your muscle weight gain is compensating for the fat loss. So, in such circumstances, I would advise you to check your progress with the help of a measurement tape and rely on mirror results.
- Different circumstances – A number of different circumstances in our day to day life also cause a lot of weight fluctuations.
- Stress – This is another factor which causes the variances in weight on weighing scale. You must have noticed that on some days when you are already stressed out, the weighing scale just adds up to your misery making you feel even more terrible? Experienced it? This is due to the rise of cortisol hormone in your body. When you are stressed out, your body responds to it by releasing a steroid hormone called cortisol. Now, cortisol is known to cause weight gain and studies have shown that higher amount of cortisol in our body leads to breakdown of proteins(proteolysis) and muscle wasting. So it is very necessary for you to stay stress free when on a fat loss program
- Bowel movements -Throughout the day, our weight increases gradually as we begin to eat throughout the day. The waste undigested food stays in our body for a certain amount of time until it is excreted out of the system. This extra undigested waste food also contributes to the variance in the weight seen on the weighing scale
- Menstruation – In case of women, the weight fluctuations are very common during their menstrual days. Right before when periods occur, the level of estrogen hormone increases which indirectly leads the body to retain more fluid which makes women feel bloated and this water retention causes weight fluctuations. The other hormone which also contributes to water retention is progesterone which spikes in the second half of the cycle. So, to all the women out there, if your scale shows you a pound extra during your menstrual days, it is just fine, continue with your diet and you will see your water weight dropping once your periods are over.
Now, these were some of the most common reasons which cause your weight to fluctuate. If you are aware of all these reasons, the daily weight fluctuations won’t matter much to you.
But then the question is, “How do you measure your progress if your weighing scale is not going to give you a precise answer?”
- Concentrate more on Fat loss instead of weight loss and in order to measure it, use measurement tape and record results weekly. Though I am not a fan of numbers, you can track your body fat percentage periodically. But personally, I would suggest you to track your progress via mirror results if numbers just make you more nervous like me.
- Check your strength gains at gym, if you are able to progress well in picking up heavy weights and able to perform compound lifts with proper form. Keep a check on your PR’s at the gym and see if they are improving.
- Are you able to get a sound sleep? Are you able to wake up early? Are you able to perform daily activities with a lot more energy?
These basic questions will provide you answers about your overall health and well being and at the end of the day more than any numbers, this is what matters the most!
So, to conclude, don’t give away too much importance to the weighing scale. It’s not the exact gauge to measure your progress. Whatever number it shows on the scale, just accept happily and keep in mind that the weight on the scale is a composition of lot of things.
Article credits – Amogh Gadewar