Why your weight fluctuates…
Let’s be honest.
Stepping on the scale can be a daunting task, even dreadful at times, or maybe you avoid it altogether in fear of what it might reveal.
I know this feeling all too well as someone who has seen the scale fluctuate most of my life…at least until I understood why.
But before I understood my fluctuations, it would drive me crazy chasing the perfect pound, counting every calorie and driving myself into the ground at the gym. All of which didn’t help my cause, not even a little bit.
So then I gave up stepping on the scale thinking if I didn’t pay attention to it, if I didn’t obsess over it, maybe just maybe I would magically reach my dream number. I would eventually feel comfortable in my clothes and my body.
But the truth is you can only see progress in what you track.
I’m not suggesting you should obsess over what the scale says, but rather you should track what makes you fluctuate so you can have a better understanding of what is keeping you from the perfect pound and then you can take action based on the data you’re collecting.
There are 4 primary drivers for fluctuations:
- Water retention
Significant increases or decreases in actual body composition (aka fat and muscle mass) takes time. Changes in body composition happen in smaller increments over weeks or months due to the complexities of how they are obtained. In general, losing 1 pound of fat per week is typical and obtainable. However, gaining 1 pound of actual fat per week is less likely unless you’re eating almost double your usual food intake (I’ll tell you more about why below), which I doubt you’re doing.
Gaining or losing muscle is even more challenging. When it comes to muscle gains, you really have to hit the gym hard and consistently. Back when I was training for fitness competitions, I was lucky if I put on 4 pounds of muscle over 6 weeks of intense training while being meticulous about my protein and food intake.
If you’re noticing significant and constant fluctuations, water retention and inflammation are the likely culprits way more so than muscle or fat.
In this week’s video and blog, I dive into more details about why your weight fluctuates and what you can do to not only stabilize it but to nail your perfect pound on the scale.
Inflammation and water density can change in the body by the minute depending on a multitude of factors such as…
- The foods you just ate
- The quality of sleep you got
- The amount of water you’re drinking
- The level of stress you’re experiencing
- The balance of vitamins, minerals and electrolytes in your body
- And how many toxins you’re being exposed to and to what frequency
Food, sleep and stress are the most common factors I see resulting in fluctuations amongst my clients and myself.
For example, my husband recently did a food sensitivity test and found he was sensitive to beef, meaning he was having an inflammatory reaction to it. He cut out beef and lost 5 pounds in one week as a result of the reduction in inflammation.
This type of drop in pounds is typical amongst most of my clients once they cut out the top inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, sugar, soy and alcohol. And they see greater gains when they eliminate other specific foods they’re reactive too according to their food sensitivity test.
Consuming too many carbohydrates or sugars increases water retention. Carbs and sugars are stored in the body as glycogen and as noted in a recent study, “glycogen is stored in the liver, muscles, and fat cells in hydrated form (three to four parts water).” So the more carbs or sugars you eat, the more glycogen and water you store.
Staying up late or not getting good quality sleep disrupts your body’s ability to regulate cortisol hormone, the body’s natural anti-inflammatory. When cortisol is out of balance, it hinders your body’s ability to manage inflammation and you’ll see that number on the scale reflect this.
And then there’s stress.
Stress increases your body’s output of cortisol hormone, that anti-inflammatory agent, which challenges its ability to regulate not only inflammation, but also your sleep patterns which causes fluctuations as I just mentioned.
Instead of feeling frustrated about the fluctuations on the scale, and elevating your stress levels which will just make them worse, put on your health boss hat and start tracking.
Tracking your metrics daily will reveal what exactly is impacting the number you’re seeing on the scale. Here’s an idea of what to track for clues about what’s causing you to fluctuate…
- If you ate any of the top inflammatory foods; gluten, dairy, sugar, soy or alcohol
- How many grams of carbs and sugars you consumed
- What time you went to bed and how well you slept on a scale of 1-10
- And what your stress level is each day on a scale of 1-10
And of course make sure you are using a scale that is calibrated correctly and regularly to eliminate margins of error.
Try this for even just a week and I bet you’ll feel empowered by what you find, because once you know what’s contributing to your fluctuations, then you can make conscious choices to help you look and feel your best!
As Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioners like myself like to say…test, don’t guess. Don’t live in limbo anymore, take your health into your own hands and be a health boss 😉
I would love to hear what aha’s, insights or big takeaways you got from this, leave a comment and let me know!