After only being in the fitness industry full time for about a year now the questions I get asked about mostly have to do with body weight and nutrition. I work with mainly general population older adults and athletes. Most of my older female clients are trying to lose weight while my males clients are 70/30. With 70% wanting to add weight and 30% wanting to lose weight. The biggest inconsistently between all my clients are their weigh-ins. they do weigh in but its on a different scale on different days and different times under different circumstances. Which doesn’t provide an accurate representation of where their actual weight is. Whether you’re trying to gain weight and add muscle mass, lose weight, or maintain your current weight, the scale can be a pretty perplexing mind game for a lot of individuals. For the sake of this article let’s say you are trying to lose weight.
You’ve been tracking your calories and have also been in a caloric deficit for about a week now. Things are going very smoothly and you’ve steadily lost 2-3 pounds the very first week of your diet. Seeing the number on the scale continually decrease through the week gives you justification that you are doing well. You start the second week of your diet. You step on the scale… you gained 2 pounds. Throughout the week your weight fluctuates between + 5 lbs. How could this happen? You’ve been sticking to your diet AND working out. What in the H*** is going on! It seemed to be working the first week, so how could you have gained weight while being consistent with your program? This is where the confusion and frustration begins with most weight loss clients. So, what really is going on?
- Establishing an Intervention
Individuals that are just starting a diet will most likely continually lose weight quicker and a bit more easily in the beginning stages of a diet. The number on the scale continually decreases because their body is now in a caloric deficit after being in a surplus for awhile. If your body is used to consuming a certain amount of calories and then the number of calories is decreased on top of increasing physical activity you will see a bigger initial loss because your body is adapting to its new deficit state.
- Carbohydrate Intake
For every 1g of carbohydrate about 3g of water will follow, this isn’t an exact measurement, but just know that with carbohydrate intake there is increased water retention that follows. Again typically when staring a diet individuals will lower their carbohydrate intake and they will see rapid weight loss 3-5 pounds or even more due to decreased water retention in the body. Decreased water retention= decrease in weight
- Stress and Sleep
Stress is associated with increased cortisol levels. So when you are stressed your body responds by telling the adrenal gland to release cortisol. When cortisol levels are elevated your body retains more water. AKA water retention= increased numbers on the scale. Same situation with sleep, not getting enough sleep increases stress which increases cortisol levels and water retention and again numbers on the scale increase even though you are still hitting your numbers and following your plan.
- Time of weigh-in
Consistently weighing in at the same time of day right when you wake up in the morning will provide the most accurate results for your weigh-in. Weighing in on the same scale each day will also provide more accurate results, rather than using multiple scales like using the one in your upstairs bathroom, the gym, your downstairs, bathroom, etc.. which will only cause inaccurate results and an obsessive relationship with the scale. will also impact your weight, stick to one scale.
- Food babiesssss
Depending on your last meal your weight will be affected. If you haven’t gone to the bathroom recently… if ya know what I mean, stool weight can also increase the numbers on the scale due to bulk of the stool and water retention.
These are some of the reasons you may see unexplained weight fluctuations when using the scale as a measuring tool wether your goal is to increase or decrease. It can be frustrating to see the number go in a different direction than you want, which is why weekly averages are more important to look at when looking at a body weight trend.
Personally, I like to use multiple measuring tools because it will help with the sanity of not being so fixated on a number, which shouldn’t define your progress or happiness. On top of daily weigh-ins some other options you can try are measuring your hip, waist, arm, and leg circumference. Progress pictures are a great tool to use to see the differences in body composition as well.
JUST TO BE CLEAR these factors can be taken into consideration only if you have been sticking to your plan, these are not excuses for not hitting your caloric intake and accidentally eating more than you should have or not getting in your workouts. Losing or gaining weight in a healthy way is a time-consuming and slow process, it takes a lot of patience, dedication, and consistency in order to be successful!
I am very passionate about what I do! If you would like to work together you can check out my Online Coaching page and fill out a form and I will be in contact with you ASAP!