Why does my weight fluctuate?

OH / 8 September 2019

Question of the Week - Why does my weight fluctuate?

Our weight can fluctuate a LOT! Ever weighed yourself in the morning and last thing at night and wondered why you're 5lbs heavier? A 5lb-6lb weight change is relatively normal day to day for an adult. Here a few reasons why our weight fluctuates:

Sodium - high salt foods cause us to retain more water and some people may be more sensitive to water than others

Carbohydrates - If you love starchy carbs eg. pasta, rice, bread, your body weight is likely to increase because of the water weight, not because of increased fat. In addition, many ​refined carbohydrate foods are also high in sodium!

Food weight - Our food causes our weight to increase while it is processed by the body. The food you consume can weigh a few pounds per day. Also, the water in food can cause your weight to increase as well. So why does our weight come back down? Because our body's are using the food for energy or storing it for a later date. 

Bowel Movements - The regularity of your bowel movements and its weight can help decrease your weight.

Exercise - As we exercise we sweat, and as we sweat we lose water. BUT we get thirsty and replace this water during exercising. As we undergo strength training we cause microtears in our muscles causing our muscles to store water to help repair and recover. Ever felt that PUMP after training?

Medication - Some medications nowadays come with side effects of weight gain. Some increase your appetite, some may cause you to retain water.

Menstrual Cycle - Most women notice some degree of bloating from fluid retention immediately before and during their menstrual period with the peak occurring during the first day of menstrual flow. Studies are inconclusive whether this is due to changes in hormone levels or eating different foods than you would normally eat.

Alcohol - Alcohol is a diuretic so short term you may notice a decrease in weight. However, an imbalance in fluid losses and dehydration will cause your body to retain water to prevent fluid imbalances. Alcohol consumption usually occurs alongside the increased consumption of high salty or overeating which as mentioned above will cause more water weight gain. This is why long term, alcohol causes you to put on weight.

So what is my normal weight? Usually when tracking weight we should look for a range and a change in trend rather than a single measurement due the variability caused by water retention. And don't forget, both muscle and fat mass also fluctuate!

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