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Why does my scale weight fluctuate?


By far the most common method of tracking body composition is simply tacking bodyweight. It can be a great tool in your weight loss/gain/maintenance journey but can also be discouraging when you see changes that are not in line with your goals.

If your diet has been on track yet your scale weight says otherwise it is most possibly down to water weight.

The various thins that can impact water weight are listed below-


Hydration status- this plays some role in the degree to which water influences your body weight. Dehydration of 1-2% can lead to a decrease in congnitive performance with dehyration of less than 1% possibly being unnoticeable, this will show a difference on the scale. Dehydration can lead to your body holding onto any water as a survival mechanism or the scale may temporarily go down depending on the individual.


The menstrual cycle- It's extremely common for women to experience scale weight gain due to water retention during their menstrual cycle. The peak apears to be on the first day of the menstrual flow and it's not uncommon for women to gain 7-10lbs across

their cycle. A good way to combat this is to compare week 1 of month 1 to week 1 of month 2 , week 2 of month 1 and week 2 of month 2 and so on as week to week weigh ins are unreliable and incomparable.


Sodium and potassium intake- Accute excessive sodium intake can lead to large amounts of water retention. Have you ever had a chinese and the next day the scale is much higher? Good amounts of potassium rich vegetables and fruit can counteract higher sodium levels although reducing a higher sodium diet is adviseable for the general population but for active healthy people salt is not to be avoided provided water and vegetable consumption is adequate.


Stress- During times of physical or mental stress the hormone cortisol is increased and effects aldosterone receptors resulting in more sodium and water in the blood and thus increasing water retention. This could mean that at the thought of losing weight, then at the thought of weight loss being unsuccessful creating a stressor, it's very likely to see water stores and so body weight increase and could be partly the reason why weight loss is not linear.


Calorie balance- It's possible to gain large amounts of water after consuming a large meal or heavy day of calorie consumption. This will be partly undigested food and glycogen stores (stored energy in the liver and muscles) -every gram of glycogen in the body is associated with 4g of water) This can be lost fairly quickly especially with exercise.

Continued overeating however will obviously lead to fat gain.


Resistance training- This corresponds to an increase in stored glycogen due to increased muscle insulin sensitivity. This means that upon taking up resistance training it's common for someone to gain water and glycogen weight because the muscles are able to store more than they have befor alongside some inflammation again resulting in water retention within the muscles.


With all this in mind there are definitely some positives to using the scale long term

If you are going to use the scales I suggest the following:-


* Weigh in the morning after urination, befor eating or drinking and ideally naked.


* Weigh daily if possible. This serves two purposes- this creates a phychological 'small win' and the first task of the day to be accomplished. This can spur you on to make good choices throughout the day ( if you find this is having a negative effect then reduce to once a week)


Studies suggest that daily weigh ins correlate with better long term fat loss outcomes.

Secondly it gives you a lot more data and noticeable links to diet choices, menstrual cycle e.t.c...

It is helpful in monitoring long term changes in energy storage so adjustments can be made to your approach. However the scale is not a measure of your self-worth, ability or beauty.


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