Suddenly gain 1-3 lbs? No need to stress. Here’s why.
Is there anything more frustrating than this?
You’ve been dieting pretty hard, sticking to your diet pretty well…
Maybe you cheat a little here and there. Not much, though. You don’t feel like it’s enough to ruin your entire diet. After all, you have to live a little sometimes, right?
Then you hop on the scale and notice you’ve gained a full TWO pounds.
What the shit, right? How is that even possible?
Then cue feeling frustrated, discouraged, and like you’re not making any progress.
I get it, trust me. But chances are this is normal and nothing to worry about.
What most people don’t understand is that your body is in a constant state of flux. You’re continuously gaining and losing a few pounds throughout the day and that specific time when you hop on the scale only gives you a tiny glimpse of what’s all going on.
There’s an issue with how most people weigh themselves too. They’ll do it in the middle of the day, maybe once a week, or even worse, sporadically with absolutely no consistency at all.
This is an issue because there’s a lot more going on with your weight than just fat gain and fat loss. Throughout the day, the food you’ve eaten and the fluids you drink and the entire process of digesting, processing, and excreting it all causes your weight to go up and down several pounds throughout the day.
Water alone can make a difference of 5 pounds easily. Athletes in weight class based competitions like MMA, powerlifting, and boxing have been known to drop as much as 10-15 lbs of pure water within a single day, just to weigh in at a lower weight class.
So yeah, if you weighed yourself Tuesday last week first thing in the morning after you went to the bathroom and before you ate or drank anything, and then weighed yourself again 9 days later this Thursday at 5pm right before your workout, 2 meals and 1 protein shake into the day, then you’re most likely going to weigh more at the second weigh in, even if you have legitimately lost two lbs of pure fat.
Here’s how you should weigh yourself:
The best way to track your bodyweight is to do it daily, first thing in the morning, before you eat or drink anything and after you go to the bathroom. This provides the most consistency as you’re basically weighing a blank slate. Even if you do it at the same time in the evening, some days you might drink and eat more or less than another. Anyways, it’s easier just to do it quick before you brush your teeth.
Write this number down every morning, then at the end of the week, take the average of all 7 days. If you miss a day here or there it’s fine. Focus on getting most days, maybe missing two max in a full month. Any less begins to make this method less accurate. Taking the average cancels out any natural fluctuations you’ll see throughout the week, which you will quickly notice, you will be up and down anywhere from 1-5 pounds throughout the week.
Taking the average gives you a more consistent number to judge your progress.
Then you can compare that average with other averages from other weeks. Don’t read into it too much from week to week. Look longer term, comparing three week blocks to three week blocks. If you haven’t lost any weight in 5-6 weeks, then you definitely know you need to change something up. Often times, you won’t lose any for 1-3 weeks, then suddenly lose several lbs all in one week, without making any changes.
But why is my weight all over the place?!
Like I explained before, it’s most likely not fat, and mainly just water + food.
I’d say it’s damn near impossible to gain a pound of fat in a single day, much less several. This is because 1 lb of fat is equal to roughly 3500 calories. That means if you’re someone who burns 2000 calories every day, you’d have to eat over double that amount at 5500 calories. For reference, that’s about 10 big macs.
Even then, not all those extra calories would go to fat. Your body has a way of increasing how many calories you burn when you consume a ton of extra calories like that, and not all of it is stored as fat, some of it is stored as glycogen, one of the fuel sources for your muscles.
If you pay attention, you’ll notice that when you eat a lot of food, you’re more likely to fidget, be jittery, willing to stand for longer periods, whereas when you’re dieting and in a caloric deficit, you won’t fidget at all, you’ll take more opportunities to sit or lean on something, and conserve energy.
Some are more susceptible to this than others, but this is basically how our body adapts to how many calories we’re eating. What I’m trying to say is, you basically have to TRY to gain 1 pound of pure fat in a single day. This isn’t something that happens on accident.
What you WILL gain is several pounds of pure water.
When you’re dieting, your body burns up more than just fat. It also burns up glycogen, carbs and water that’s stored in the muscles and liver for energy. When our body is low on it from weeks and weeks of dieting and losing weight, it works really hard to create more whenever given the opportunity.
So what can often happen if you have a single cheat day is your body will grab a bunch of those extra calories you’ve eaten and turn it into glycogen. This can account for several pounds, and could take several days for your body to burn through it again.
This is why when people go on low carb diets, if they cheat just for a few days, they will gain a ton of weight back. When you’ve been eating a low carb diet, your body runs even lower on glycogen than you normally would on a diet, so the body is just desperately waiting for any extra carbs to come into the system to start making glycogen.
That’s just one of many other reasons why you’re body will retain and flush water. Sometimes it will stick around for just a few days, sometimes over a week. You never really know for sure what’s going on, but that’s exactly why you should weigh yourself daily, take the weekly average, and compare weeks of data, not just sporadically and nervously hop on the scale at random intervals.
- remember your body is in a constant state of flux
- weight changes account for more than just fat. There’s food and water consumed, water and glycogen retention, and muscle.
- Weigh yourself daily, first thing in the morning, take the weekly average and compare that number with other weeks.
Keep this information in mind next time the scale is stressing you out. If you liked this read, share the article with a friend and if you’re a first time reader, sign up for my free program. You’ll get a full workout and nutrition guide as well as more tips like this sent directly to your email! Click here for that.