5 Common Reasons Your Scale Weight Fluctuates And Why You Should Never Feel A Failure Because Of It…
How many times have you stepped on the scale only to see it go up 1kg, despite doing everything right? Ever wondered why your weight fluctuates so much? Truth is, you might have nothing to worry about…
I’m sure you’ve been there many times. Your weight fluctuates on a daily basis and your frustration builds...
You wake up in the morning, make your way to the bathroom and step on the dreaded scales to check progress.
And through the cracks between your fingers you peer down tentatively…
“FUCK! I’ve put on 1kg! How is that even possible?”
And it’s at this point everyone else in the house starts running for cover…
Because you’re going to be in a shitty mood for the rest of the day.
Your other half suddenly has to get to work early, so escapes through the front door, before you’ve got a chance to unleash your tirade of frustration.
In a matter of seconds, your day has turned into an absolute misery. You’re off to a bad start and don’t really know how to recover it.
But does it HAVE to be that way?
Here’s the thing… More often than not, you’re beating yourself up over nothing.
And I’d be willing to bet my reputation your weight increase wasn’t all body fat. And here’s why.
I’m going to show you why is almost impossible for you to have put on a kilo of fat overnight. And why you need to break the emotional attachment to the scale weight number staring back at you each morning.
Because let’s face it… You and you’re family need to be spared this morning charade!
It’s time to put your mind at ease as I explain the 5 Most Common Reasons Why Your Scale Weight Fluctuates.
And as an added bonus, I’ll give you some practical tips so when your weight fluctuates, your mood doesn’t do the same.
When Weight Fluctuates It’s Probably Not Body Fat
So, we’ve all been there… You feel like you’ve done everything right. Stuck to your calorie targets, worked out, and been as good as physically possible. But your weight fluctuates more erratically than the heart rate of an 80 year old man who's perving at the sexy woman next door, sunbathing in the back garden.
And it’s frustrating, demotivating, and probably effects the rest of your day. Am I right?
But don’t worry, I’m about to put your mind at rest once and for all.
“How the hell are you going to do that Simon?”
Great question… I’m simply going to tell you the science behind what it actually would take to put on a kilo of fat overnight.
And once you understand this, two things are going to happen…
Firstly, your mind is going to be blown. Seriously, you’re going to be sitting there thinking I’m the second coming, but in an online coaching form.
Then, you’re going to proceed with the rest of you fat loss phase without ever panicking about the scales again.
Does that sound good?
Awesome… Well, listen up… Because the Fitness Jesus is in town. And Nutrition Church is in session!
What It Takes To Put On 1kg Of Body Fat
We’re going to start this one off by looking at the maths of fat loss.
Ok. That sounds boring as fuck. But bear with me… By now you should trust me to make these boring subjects sound vaguely interested.
And if at any point we’re drifting into the realms of boredom, I’ll throw in a few swear words to spice things up.
Better still, I might tell a little anecdote about my Tinder hell. Because that’s always good for a laugh.
But for now, we’ll stick to the nutrition stuff.
First things first, you need to now this…
To burn 1kg of body fat you’d need to create a calorie deficit of approximately 7,000 calories.
Clearly that’s going to take some time to build up.
So imagine you’re in a 500 calorie deficit per day. Therefore, it’s going to take 2 weeks to create your 7,000 calorie deficit.
This is assuming that by creating the deficit you’re only burning fat. In reality that might not be the case. But it’s close enough. And I need to keep the maths simple.
So if we know that burning 1kg of fat takes a 7,000 calorie deficit, then we also know you’d have to eat in a 7,000 calorie surplus to put on the same amount.
Fuck. Bollocks. Piss Flaps…
Sorry, just checking you were still with me and not fallen asleep.
So what does this all mean?
What You’d Have To Do To Put On 1kg Of Body Fat Overnight
Now we know what it would take to lose or gain 1kg of body fat, what does that mean in real terms?
Well, it means this…
For argument’s sake, let’s assume you’re eating 2,000 calories per day. And this represents a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day.
So for you to step on the scales tomorrow and have increased body fat by 1 full kilo, you’d need to have eaten 9,500 calories in a single day…
In this example that would be the equivalent of nearly 5 day’s worth of food.
So next time you hop on the scales and your weight fluctuates in a northerly direction, ask yourself one question…
“Did I eat 5 day’s worth of food yesterday?”
And if the answer’s yes, then I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can help you… At least not via a podcast…
But if the answer’s NO, then you can be calm in the knowledge you didn’t just turn into Jabba The Hut overnight.
What’s more, your poor family can be spared your teenager tantrums. Wouldn’t that just be lovely for everyone?
Right about now you should be thinking two things…
Number 1… This makes a lot of sense and I’m starting to get it.
And Number 2… What was that Tinder anecdote? Do tell all.
Not quite… The second thing you might be thinking is, “If it’s not body fat, the what the hell is it?”
Now that’s a much better question. Tinder horror stories can be saved for another time…
Why Your Scale Weight Fluctuates: #1 Glycogen
When you plunge yourself into a calorie deficit, your body starts to use up stored energy for fuel.
This will come in the form of body fat and muscle glycogen.
Muscle glycogen is stored in the muscle cells. And your body uses it for energy.
So if you’re in a calorie deficit these glycogen stores will become depleted over time. This is nothing to worry about and it’s a perfectly normal part of the process.
However, when you have a little more food than normal, or vary the types of foods you consume, these glycogen stores start to be replenished.
So if you were to go slightly off plan and eat in slightly less of a deficit, glycogen may get replenished.
But what difference does that make?
Well, for every gram of glycogen your body stores, it’s stored with 3 grams of water. Therefore, increasing your total body weight. But having zero impact on body fat.
And let’s look at a practical example to hammer this one home a little more…
Therefore, if you weighed 80kg and we assumed you were completely depleted of glycogen (which would probably never happen, but this is is just for illustrative purposes) then full replenishment of glycogen could have this impact on total weight…
Glycogen = 1.2kg
Water = 3.6kg
Total Weight Gain = 4.8kg
Ok, that’s an extreme example. But it does highlight the weight fluctuates wildly based on factors other than body fat.
And you can see how this weight fluctuation would be more rapid than a body fat increase.
Why Your Scale Weight Fluctuates: #2 Food Weight
Next on the list is food weight. All of the food you consume weighs something.
And the variability in what you eat and how long it takes to get through your system can be a huge factor in why weight fluctuates.
If you go out with your other half and have something to eat fairly late at night, this might still be going through your system when you jump on the scales in the morning.
Again, nothing to do with body fat because you could still be in a deficit and have the same thing happen.
So unless you plan on eating the same thing every day at the same time every day, then don’t be surprised when your weight fluctuates day to day.
Simply put… DON’T PANIC!
Why Your Scale Weight Fluctuates: #3 Water Retention
Third on our list we have water retention. Water retention can occur for a multitude of different reasons.
Some of which are more in your control than others. So the key thing here is to recognise what you can control and work on those to reduce variability.
I wrote a full article on the reasons behind your weight fluctuations, which you can read here…
But I’m going to summarise them for you now…
1. Increase in salt intake
2. Decrease in potassium intake
3. Imbalance between salt and potassium levels.
4. Increased stress
5. Lack of sleep
6. Not enough water
8. Lack of exercise
For more information on each one of those factors, head over to the article.
But for now let’s focus on the broad things you can focus on to reduce the variability in water weight changes.
Firstly, you can look at the nutritional aspects. For example, balancing salt and potassium levels. Ideally getting between 3-5g of each.
Drinking enough water is also pretty simple. Just drink until your pee is clear.
After that you’ve got the training side of things. And you just need to be sensible here. A balance between couch potato and killing yourself in the gym is all you need.
Finally, optimising your lifestyle is possibly the more tricky aspect to control. But getting a consistent sleep pattern will certainly help. As will a reduction in stress levels, if achievable.
And if you bring all this elements together, you’ll have done your best to reduce some of the variables causing water retention.
Why Your Scale Weight Fluctuates: #4 Bowel Movements
Fourth on the list is your bowel movements… Maybe this should have been number 2 on the list… A piece of comedy gold missed right there.
Oh well… We move on…
If you’re anything like me then your bowel movements aren’t geometrically identical each and every day.
Sometimes it’s like World War III trying to squeeze the buggers out. Other times it’s like a scene from a war film… Shit flying everywhere!
So if one day you’re a little backed up and your number 2 feels like you’re passing something the size of a baby’s arm holding an apple, then you might weight a little more that day.
But compare that to the next day, then things slip out quicker than swear words from my mouth, you can see why your weight fluctuates.
Why Your Scale Weight Fluctuates: #5 Menstrual Cycle
Finally on our list we have the menstrual cycle.
Sorry lads, you can’t claim this one I’m afraid…
It’s a fact that the menstrual cycle and wreak havoc on your scale weight, causing fluctuations on a daily basis.
But this is perfectly normal. And once you get to understand your cycle and how it affects your weight, then you can start to predict it. And once you’re able to predict it, your anxiety starts to disappear.
The menstrual cycle and its effects on weight can vary from person to person. But typically, you’ll see greater variability between the end of the luteal phase and the start of the follicular phase.
And it’s because of this variability why I wouldn’t recommend comparing weight on a daily basis.
It would make more sense to look at your average across the week.
Furthermore, it would make even more sense to compare that weekly average to the weekly average at the same point in last month’s cycle.
This would give you a truer reflection of your weight and fat loss progress.
So it would be a better practice to record your weight regularly, ignore the fact your weight fluctuates daily, and look at progress objectively over a longer period of time.
Why Your Scale Weight Fluctuates: Practical Tips
Hopefully by now you’re at ease when it comes to understanding why your weight fluctuates.
The mornings should be less of an emotional lottery. And more importantly, you can understand you are not necessarily doing anything wrong.
It’s simply multiple complex processes at work in the body, most of which you can’t control to any great degree on a daily basis.
But what you can control is how you react to the number you stare at each morning.
Neither getting over excited when it drops 1kg overnight, nor getting depressed if it spikes in the opposite direction.
Here’s 4 things to keep in mind so you remain on an even keel during your fat loss phase…
1. Focus on a weekly average of your weigh and not day to day fluctuations
2. Reduce variability in water retention by focusing on nutrition, training, and lifestyle.
3. Understand the impact of the menstrual cycle on your weight.
4. When your weight goes up, remind yourself of what it REALLY takes to gain 1kg of body fat.
So there you have the 5 Most Common reasons Your Scale Weight Fluctuates.
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But for now all that’s left for me to say is keep living the Lean Life and I’ll see you for the next episode of the show.