Now that half my friends are on a diet, thanks to effing New Years, I have to share something with y’all. You know that bathroom scale that you get on every morning? It’s lying to you. You heard me. It’s lying. So, everyone can just stop freaking out about what it told you this morning, because it probably isn’t true.
There are a multitude of factors, from water consumption to plain old hormones, that can artificially – and temporarily – affect that ever important number on the scale, anywhere from 1-5 pounds in a day.
#1. Water water water.
Water can affect your weight in a couple of ways: drinking too much, and not enough. As a substance, water is pretty heavy, so if you drink a couple big glasses, you’ll see an immediate impact on your weight. On the other hand, dehydration can also lead to a higher number, because it causes the body to retain what water it does have (it thinks there’s a draught or something?). Our bodies are made of 60% water, so any changes in that arena are going to have a noticeable impact overall.
This one seems so obvious, but people sometimes forget that food weighs as much in your stomach as it does on your plate, at least initially. Take that into account when you step on the scale, or better yet, wait ’til you’ve digested before you get anywhere near it.
#3 Aunt Flo
You know how you feel bloated and heavy right around your period? It’s because you are. Hormonal shifts and surges also make your body hold onto water, and we’ve already covered how much water can add up. Exercise, drink plenty of water, and your body will flush it out in due time.
Going heavy on the salt makes your body hold onto water for dear life which, as we already know, makes us weigh more. This gets especially tricky to control, as most convenience foods, prepared foods, etc., already have a lot of sodium in them, and if you add salt on top of that…well, you may be in for a little surprise next time you step on the scale.
Glycogen is energy stored in your body, in muscles and in your liver, and comes packed with 3-4 pounds of water. If you don’t eat enough carbs during the day, these stores get tapped and the supply will shrink, resulting in a small weight loss. This will increase your appetite, and your body will slowly right itself as you eat. Glycogen and the accompanying water can account for a shift of up to 2 pounds in weight every day.
So, there you have it, the top 5 reasons your weight can fluctuate on any given day. Remember, a pound of fat is 3500 calories. You would have to consume 3500 calories MORE than you burn off in a day, and you burn a good many just by, you know, living. Add in any activity at all and you up that furnace. It’s almost literally impossible to gain a pound overnight, let alone 5. Unless you regularly eat tubs of Crisco every day, chances are, your culprit is one of the above. For this reason, doctors and nutritionists often recommend markers other than a scale to monitor your weight, such as energy level, or a particularly stiff pair of jeans. These things will give you a much more honest answer than your fickle bathroom scale.
If you are going to weigh, try and be consistent with when and how you do it. If you stick to the same time of day, amount of clothing, etc., you’re more likely to get a weight that’s at least relatively accurate. So next time you get a nasty shock, take a breath, think it over, and consider that maybe you’re doing just fine.