Level – Beginner
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Reading Time – 4-5 minutes
Weight fluctuates on a daily basis, it’s very rare that anyone, whether looking to lose or gain weight, will weigh the same every day.
Unless your routine is EXACTLY the same every day.
– Same foods, in the same quantities, at the same time,
– Same amount of sleep at the same time,
– Same activity at the same time,
– Weighing yourself in the same place at the same time…… You get the point.
The slightest change in your daily routine has the ability to affect your weight. Which is the reason why we stress (no pun intended) to everyone that daily weigh ins are not the be all and end all and should not dictate your mood for the day.
We’ll explain later how scale weight can be a useful tool and practical applications but for now we’ll explain how and why your weight may fluctuate on a daily basis.
1) Sodium Intake
Most commonly found in table salt, sodium is an important mineral and electrolyte that helps to maintain water balance within cells as well as the function of nerve impulses and muscles in the body. This is why, when you cramp, it’s usually because your electrolyte balance is out of whack.
Sodium’s function also explains why it may affect your scale weight. If you’ve ever had a really salty meal (or gone a bit mad with the soy sauce) then it will more than likely cause you to hold on to more water a.k.a water retention, which will reflect on the scales the next day.
If you do change your eating habits, even if only for a day, the increased sodium may cause a spike in weight.
Stick to mostly whole foods with minimal processing and it’s unlikely your sodium is going to be too high and you’ll see more consistent readings.
2) Carbohydrate Intake
Glycogen is the storage form of carbohydrates within the liver and muscle cells. The more carbohydrates you eat, the more glycogen your body will store.
Glycogen molecules are also bound to 3-4 parts water, meaning for every 1g of stored carbohydrate, your body will also store 3-4g water.
To put it into more simple terms:
More carbohydrates = More glycogen storage = More water storage = More weight.
So as with sodium, if you find yourself having a particularly carb heavy day or carb heavy meal, unless your body burns the carbs off straight away, you’ll be holding on to more water.
This also explains why many people see rapid weight loss in the initial phase of fad diets. As you are eating less carbs, you’ll be depleting your glycogen stores and thus depleting water stores.
3) Life Stress
Life stress is inevitable; arguments with the other half, pressure at work, taking kids to school and having to pay the bills …. Oh and having to find time to go to the gym 3-4 times a week too. Couple that with a calorie restricted diet and your stress levels will more than likely be through the roof.
High stress leads to high cortisol and high cortisol has the potential to cause water retention and mask fat loss.
Cortisol isn’t all bad and is in fact necessary for many metabolic processes, it’s when cortisol is too high for too long that it can become and issue and result in a “puffy” look.
Most of the time this is only short term and it’s usually best to just wait it out but for those of you with very high stress levels, on low calories, doing a ton of exercise and still not losing weight, it may be the cortisol and may be worth taking a little break.
If this sounds like you, it’s all about reducing the stress so here are a few things you can do:
– Cut back on the calorie deficit
– Reduce exercise volume
– Get more (read: better) sleep
– Chill the f**k out
Note: As cortisol is so difficult to track, many people use it as an excuse for not losing weight. They use cortisol as an excuse for their lack of effort or “secret eating”. Make sure you’re being honest with yourself before you blame the cortisol and stress!
4) Training Stress
Have you ever done a really intense workout and woken up heavier the next day? You’d think with the amount of calories you burnt you’d wake up lighter right?
Not always the case and mainly down to the inflammation caused by such a hard workout.
When you train, you’re breaking down muscle fibres which need to be repaired. During this process your muscles become swollen and inflamed as blood rushes to the area carrying nutrients. What is blood mostly made up of? Water. Thus causing localised water retention in the muscles which can cause a temporary increase in weight.
To put it into perspective, remember a time when you’ve fallen over and sprained your ankle or wrist and it blows up like a balloon. This is inflammation and is similar to what happens to your muscles when you train.
Another reason why we don’t suggest basing progress of daily weigh ins and actually tell our clients to EXPECT to weigh more after an intense workout!
Make sure to check out Part 2 HERE for 4 more reasons why the scales may not be telling the whole story…
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