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7 Reasons Why The Scale Says You Gained Weight Overnight… But Probably Didn’t

You step on the scale one morning and you’re totally on track. The next morning, you’re up five pounds. WTF!?!

It’s a frustrating and bewildering experience that happens to the best of us. And we’re here to tell you that you didn’t actually gain five pounds of fat in a single day.

After all, gaining a single pound of fat requires consuming about 3,500 calories more than you can burn off. So to gain five pounds in a day, you’d have to eat nearly 20,000 calories in just 24 hours.

But gaining five pounds of water weight in a day? That’s easy, says Georgie Fear, R.D., C.S.S.D., author of Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss. “It’s important to know that your weight will fluctuate on a daily basis, but it doesn’t mean that your weight-loss strategy is failing.”

So if you step on the scale and find that you’ve magically gained a few pounds, consider these seven random things that can screw with your scale—and take a deep breath.

𝟭) 𝗬𝗢𝗨 𝗛𝗜𝗧 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗚𝗬𝗠 𝗛𝗔𝗥𝗗

“After a heavy workout, especially if you perform big, compound movements that recruit a lot of large muscles, you can easily weigh a few extra pounds for several days,” Fear says.

Those microscopic tears that occur in your muscle cells after every workout heal through a process of natural inflammation. That involves some pooling of fluids around the muscle cells, which can make you puff up, she says. This does not mean you should skip those calorie-torching strength moves. Just let your muscles recover and forget about the scale.

𝟮) 𝗬𝗢𝗨 𝗔𝗧𝗘 𝗖𝗛𝗜𝗣𝗦

Regardless of whether the chips are baked or fried, “excess sodium intake leads to immediate water weight gain,” says Julie Ellner, M.D., a San Diego-based weight-loss specialist. That can lead to swollen ankles and a belly bulge from swelling in your intestines, she says. Apart from the water retention, munching on salty snacks can cause constipation, too. To ease the pain: Dip your chips in some guac, which is rich in potassium. That mineral can help in excreting excess sodium and fluid from your system, says Fear.

𝟯) 𝗬𝗢𝗨’𝗩𝗘 𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗥𝗧𝗘𝗗 𝗔 𝗛𝗜𝗚𝗛 𝗣𝗥𝗢𝗧𝗘𝗜𝗡, 𝗟𝗢𝗪-𝗖𝗔𝗥𝗕 𝗗𝗜𝗘𝗧

Fiber is critical to keeping your digestive system working its best. So when you miss out on fiber from whole grains, fruit, and starchy vegetables, you’re bound to get backed up, says Ellner.

“If you don’t go for several days, that internal traffic jam can translate to a couple pounds of retained matter,” says Fear. While Ellner recommends that anyone on a high-protein, low-carb diet should take a fiber supplement to keep things moving, an even better option is to only reduce refined carbohydrates, like pasta, and keep whole grains, veggies, and fruit as part of your diet.

𝟰) 𝗬𝗢𝗨’𝗥𝗘 𝗗𝗘𝗛𝗬𝗗𝗥𝗔𝗧𝗘𝗗

When you’re dehydrated, you usually weigh less because your muscles and tissues are sucked dry (making you feel miserable). But that lack of water throws your kidneys into “let’s conserve fluids” mode, says Fear. That leads to an increase in water weight once you start sipping, she adds. But don’t worry, after a few days of hydrating properly your kidneys will get back to normal, along with your weight.

𝟱) 𝗬𝗢𝗨 𝗠𝗜𝗚𝗛𝗧 𝗛𝗔𝗩𝗘 𝗔 𝗙𝗢𝗢𝗗 𝗜𝗡𝗧𝗢𝗟𝗘𝗥𝗔𝗡𝗖𝗘

An intolerance to foods like dairy, fructose, eggs, shellfish, gluten, artificial sweeteners, soy, and many others can cause bloating and water retention, especially in your gut, says Ellner.

If you notice that you feel heavier or actually weigh more after eating certain foods, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian before eliminating them.

𝟲) 𝗬𝗢𝗨’𝗥𝗘 𝗔𝗕𝗢𝗨𝗧 𝗧𝗢 𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗥𝗧 𝗬𝗢𝗨𝗥 𝗣𝗘𝗥𝗜𝗢𝗗 (𝗟𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗲𝘀 𝗢𝗻𝗹𝘆😉)

All PMS-fueled binging aside, you can thank your hormones for pre-period pounds, says Ellner. You’ll start to gain water weight about five days before your cycle starts, Fear says. But everyone can be a bit different, she says. “Some of my clients tell me they’re the heaviest on the first day of their period.” The good news is that period-related water retention is short-lived, says Fear.

𝟳) 𝗬𝗢𝗨 𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗥𝗧𝗘𝗗 𝗘𝗔𝗧𝗜𝗡𝗚 𝗣𝗔𝗦𝗧𝗔 𝗔𝗚𝗔𝗜𝗡

When you cut back on your carb intake, your body’s glycogen stores—its prime energy source for high-intensity exercise— become depleted. But as soon as you dive into some spaghetti, your body starts storing glycogen in your muscles and liver, along with water. The sudden influx of those two nutrients after a long stretch of being carb-free could leave you bloated, Fear says.

The best solution: Include a moderate amount of whole-grain carbs in your diet daily to prevent the cycle of weight coming on and off.

Source: Women’s Health Magazine, K. Aleisha Fetters, Sept. 26, 2016

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