Why Does Your Weight Fluctuate While Dieting?

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Exercise and a proper diet will help you lose weight. However, some people will get frustrated when they see their weight will fluctuate throughout the week. It will go up and down quite often depending on several variables.

The thing to keep in mind is how much you weigh over the long haul. It’s unlikely that you’ll see any real progress from one day to the next. Why doesn’t the body provide consistency in total weight?




How Does the Weight Fluctuate Throughout the Week?

Measuring yourself from one day to the next can give you false results. There are many things that can contribute to how much you weigh at any given time, and some may not even be related to fat.

Before you panic when the scale says you’ve gained a pound or two this week while dieting, here are five things that will impact how the scale records your weight:

1. Muscle Weighs More than Fat per Volume

The volume of muscle is more dense when compared to fat. Which means one pound of fat will take up more room on your body than one pound of muscle. 1

When you start exercising regularly, muscle density and development will increase. Even if you commit to nothing but cardio, yoga and pilates, the muscles in your body will start to tone up.

When you gain weight after dieting and exercising, your fat mass could have been replaced by muscle. This actually happens more often than not. 2

The best way to tell is by taking routine measurements of various parts of your body. While you may gain a bit of weight, you should be losing inches around your stomach and possibly the arms and legs.

That is unless you start bulking up like a bodybuilder. More effort into adding muscle mass will definitely cause your weight to fluctuate. This is done through weight training.

Case in point: At one point, my weight loss seemed like it started to plateau. I was starting to get frustrated until I realized that I was developing more muscle mass and had greater definition in my arms, chest and back.

After a couple of weeks, I started losing weight again and felt much stronger than I had before. This is because the fat was burning off as fast as the muscle was developing.

Taking before and after selfies of yourself is also a good way to gauge fat loss even if the scale tries to tell you otherwise.

2. You Might Be Retaining Water

Drinking Water

Retaining water can also cause weight to fluctuate. And, it’s not only women who can do this. Too much sodium in anyone’s diet can cause the body to store water. A lot of it depends on what you eat during any given day and if you’ve consumed enough liquids. 3

Not drinking enough water will also cause the body to retain more. Think of it as a survival tactic as the body adjusts for a lack of what it needs to continue operation. Of course, drinking too much mater without relieving yourself could also increase your weight for that particular day.

Personally, I retain quite a bit of water. According to my scale, my water percentage is way above average during any given day. If you have such an issue, you may want to consider diuretics. These help the body process the liquid as urine. 4

For example, I have an affinity for the Emerge Drink Mix and I find that I keep body water balanced when using the supplement.

Solid and drier foods tend to take longer for the body to properly digest. If you haven’t visited the bathroom, you could store several pounds worth of foods in your digestive system.

Keeping regular will help you get an idea of your proper weight throughout the week. This can be done by drinking more water before and after meals as well as increasing your fiber intake.

It takes the body about six hours or more to digest solid foods. Unless you eat a lot of Taco Bell, it’s unlikely you’ll get rid of the excess weight immediately after eating. 5

Many experts suggest weighing yourself first thing in the morning before consuming anything. This helps reduce the impact of how your weight will fluctuate throughout the week.

3. Eating too Many Carbs

diet cheating

Carbs can easily be stored if your body doesn’t use them for energy. Those in weight training often increase their carbohydrate intake simply because they are going to burn it off with lifting weights while concentrating on building muscle mass.

However, a lot of people will eat in a similar fashion without doing enough activity to burn it away.

Food is the fuel that keeps the body maintained. If you don’t use all the components, many of them are stored for later use…as fat. Unfortunately, not all vitamins and minerals can be stored in the body, which is why even obese people still need to eat.

For instance, the human body does not store nor create B complex vitamins. We still need to eat them. 6

In this instance, it’s easy to experience the weight to fluctuate on a per-day basis. I’ve seen it happen in myself, to be honest. You gotta keep active if you want carbs and fats in your daily eating habits.

Would you put more gas in your car than it can hold? It’s a similar situation when it comes to eating.

4. Weight of Your Clothes

The type of clothing you wear can cause the scale to shift around a bit throughout the week. This is why I prefer to step on the scale naked. It eliminates any other article of attire that can deliver a false reading.

If you wear something one day and wear heavier clothing the next, it could look like you haven’t lost much.

The first thing I do after getting up is strip down and step on the scale. That is unless I have to use the bathroom first. You can store more than a pound simply by needing to relieve yourself.

5. Scale Mis-calibration and Altitude

where you started from

An improperly calibrated scale could also cause your weight to fluctuate. Although this is less common than what a lot of people would like to believe, it is a possibility.

Also keep in mind that altitude could play a factor in your weight. For instance, you’ll weigh slightly more at sea level than you will on top of mountain peaks. 7

This weight difference is quite slight, however, and it’s unlikely it will make a profound difference in your overall health.

The Scale is Useful, But Measurements are Better

It can be quite the struggle to lose weight. The last thing you want to do is panic if you have a weight-fluctuate problem. Don’t assume that you’re gaining fat even if you’re exercising and dieting.

Instead of focusing on the scale, pay more attention to:

    • Body measurements
    • How clothes fit
    • Taking weekly selfies to compare visual evidence
    • Stamina when being physically active…can you work or play for longer?

One of the most common elements in this list is the development of muscle mass. Gauging your weight over time will be more valuable to you than on a daily basis. Too many things can play into what the scale shows you.

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Sources

  1. MyFitnessPal – https://blog.myfitnesspal.com/muscle-really-weigh-fat/
  2. BodyBuilding.com https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/6-ways-to-reduce-body-fat-while-increasing-muscle.html
  3. Medcial News Today – https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/187978.php
  4. Mayo Clinic – https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/diuretics/art-20048129
  5. Mayo Clinic – http://www.mayoclinic.org/digestive-system/expert-answers/faq-20058340
  6. Colorado State University – https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/nutrition-food-safety-health/water-soluble-vitamins-b-complex-and-vitamin-c-9-312/
  7. New York Times – https://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/23/science/q-a-altitude-and-weight.html

Michael Brockbank

Since 2015, Michael has put in the effort to lose more than 80 pounds by gamifying fitness and eating proper portion sizes. He conducts extensive research into various health and fitness products to provide the best answers possible according to his own experience and knowledge.

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