Your morning weigh-in sets the tone for the day. You either look down and think, “Yes! Now I have to keep it up,” or you step off feeling discouraged. You may have heard that the best time to weigh yourself for the most accurate number is just after you wake up, but that’s not a one-size-fits-all rule.
In reality, there are many factors that contribute to your weight at any given time and it’s normal to fluctuate up to 5 pounds in a day’s time! Learn why this happens (and be a little less hard on yourself!).
Water weight: This pesky added weight often takes the physical form of belly bloat, but it’s really just the retention of water in your body. The most likely culprit of this is sodium and if you’ve been eating out a lot, it’s not difficult to go over your body’s salt intake limits. When you have too much sodium, your body holds water to dilute the salt content until it finds a balance of salt and water, then it will flush out the excess. Sodium is necessary in your body, just keep it under 2,300 milligrams per day!
>> Read more: What is Water Weight and Should You Lose It?
Carbohydrate intake: For every gram of carbs your body holds (good or bad), it also stores 3 grams of water, says fitness training expert Dick Talens. This translates pretty clearly that the more carbs you consume, the more water your body stores. The "added weight" can change your scale's readings throughout the day as your body processes the water storage!
Periods: Weight gain from Aunt Flo’s visit can begin about five days before your cycle begins and the average weight gain during this time is five pounds! Raquel Dardik, M.D., told Shape that this is due to the hormone progesterone. This hormone is essential in the early stages of pregnancy, but when you aren’t pregnant, these levels drop. Dark says this causes every cell in your body to retain an extra drop of water, contributing to that unexplained weight gain and bloated, uncomfortable feeling.
Dehydration: You can’t hold water weight without drinking water, right? Well, not really, and doctors say up to 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated. This causes an imbalance in your body’s salt/water levels and until you’re hydrated, you’ll continue to hold that bloat and extra weight.
>> Read more: 8 Easy Ways to Drink More Water
Sedentary days: If you aren’t active every day, you’re obviously not burning through those calories (which is crucial for weight loss!), but this also causes water retention. If you don’t get up and move, your body’s fluid and waste processes slow down which also slows your metabolism and causes your body to retain sodium longer. Need motivation? Consider picking up a fitness tracker!
The bottom line? Stop focusing all your attention and measuring your success by stepping nervously on the scale! The number isn’t an accurate depiction of your progress and it should be accompanied (or even replaced) by taking body measurements, taking notice of how your clothes fit, and testing yourself with simple fitness challenges! Need proof? Click here to check out one woman’s weight loss journey in which she GAINED 18 pounds!