Why Does My Weight Fluctuate So Much?

Why Does My Weight Fluctuate So Much?

Have you ever stepped on the scale on a Sunday morning and thought “Holy Sh***t I really blew all my progress this weekend”. Or even on a random Wednesday, seen a big spike and felt discouraged because you were consistent with your exercise and nutrition all week? Does the scale feel like random numbers to you and lead to frustration?

The scale is a great tool to measure weight loss but the truth is, there are nuances to why your weight fluctuates that aren’t all about fat loss or gain. In this article, we’ll explore a few reasons how water actually impacts your short-term weight the most.

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Table of Contents

What Causes Daily Weight Fluctuation

Reasons Water Impacts Weight Fluctuation

Moving Forward & Next Steps

Summary FAQs

What Causes Daily Weight Fluctuation?

Long-term weight trends can be explained by energy balance (calories in vs. calories out). If you intake more calories than you burn, your weight will go up and vice versa.

However, in the short term, we have all witnessed the scale go up and down in a single day that can’t be explained by pure fat/muscle gain or loss. Sure, if you pound a case of beer and eat pizza for all three meals you will gain some fat. However, one day of letting loose won’t have a large impact on body composition.

A pound of fat is equal to roughly 3,500 calories so in order to gain that in a day you’d have to eat that amount on top of your normal maintenance calories. That’s not easy to do!

So, how can you hop on the scale and see a 5lb increase the day after Thanksgiving?

The main reason is due to water.

Fun fact: humans are made up of around 50-60% water. Your organs, bones, etc. are all mostly water. And water has zero calories. Step on the scale and weigh yourself. Now drink a liter of water. Go back on the scale. It’s higher. Did you gain fat? No, of course not. But you did gain weight which is completely normal and nothing to worry about.

Reasons Water Impacts Weight Fluctuation

Here are a few reasons how water can both, directly and indirectly, cause weight spikes and drops.

Carbs and Salt

If you ate more salt or carbs than usual the day before you may have an increase in weight. In regards to salt (sodium chloride), your body will retain water which can cause bloating and an uptick in weight. Water molecules bind easily to sodium to help maintain fluid balance.

For carbs, it’s a very similar process. Carbs are stored in the body as glycogen. Glycogen molecules are filled with water and stored in your muscles and liver. Therefore, the more carbs you have, the more water weight you retain. Again, this is not fat loss or gain. It’s simply water weight!

This is why the opposite will happen if you eat less salt or carbs. Your body will flush a lot of weight quickly. These foods don’t inherently cause fat gain, they hold onto water more than other foods which shows up as short-term weight increases.

This spike in weight can look even more dramatic if you’ve been limiting carb intake through something such as the keto diet. The first few weeks of a low-carb diet look extremely promising because you lose weight so quickly. These are results are deceiving because it’s not necessarily fat loss, but rather your body flushing out water weight that would have otherwise been bound to the glycogen.

Timing of weigh-in: late meal or early weigh-in

If you are someone who uses a scale, making sure to weigh yourself at the same time of day will help achieve more accurate data. If you weigh yourself earlier in the day than you typically do, your body has had less time to digest the food from the night before and the scale will likely show a higher number. Same thing if you ate a meal later than you usually do. Digestion time is shorter than if you had eaten at your standard time and the scale may reflect that with a higher weight.

This also ties into weighing yourself under the same conditions every day. If you typically weigh yourself first thing in the morning without having anything to eat or drink and then weigh yourself mid-afternoon after a few meals, the number on the scale will be quite different. To keep the variance at a minimum be consistent with the conditions you’re weighing yourself under. Stick to the same time of day, before or after meals, and with the same amount of clothes on or off.

Stress

This probably isn’t on the list for the reason you think it is. When you’re stressed your body releases cortisol which some claim leads to weight gain (specifically around the midsection). Cortisol is your body’s main stress hormone and is best known for triggering your body’s fight or flight response. There’s no strong evidence that the amount of cortisol produced by a healthy level of stress causes an increase in body fat, however, you can experience short-term weight gain from higher cortisol levels. When cortisol levels go up (like when you’re stressed) your body will retain water and your weight will temporarily increase due to that water weight. This is why people sometimes see a big weight drop when they stop dieting and move into a reverse cut. When their body loses the stress of dieting it releases the water and looks like a big drop in pounds.

Muscle

You might hop on the scale after a really tough training session and see a jump in weight. No, you didn’t gain 3 pounds of muscle overnight (though how great would that be?!) but when your muscles are damaged they absorb nutrients and store more glycogen to recover. This will show a short-term weight gain. The same goes for after a rest day, you might weigh less because your body isn’t storing this for recovery.

Food in your Stomach

This reason isn’t water-related, but if food is sitting in your intestines and you haven’t gone to the bathroom yet, you’ll obviously weigh more than if your stomach was empty. We will leave it at that.

Moving Forward & Next Steps

So what do you do with this information especially if weight management is important to you?

  • Stay hydrated. Water is important and you should never sacrifice staying properly hydrated to manipulate an arbitrary number on the scale.
  • Understand weight doesn’t equal body composition. The number on the scale doesn’t tell how much of it is fat, muscle, water, etc. Use the number as one data point and try to not over invest yourself in the number. If it does impact you emotionally, you don’t need to use the scale at all.
  • Understand your consumption. People are notoriously bad at estimating their food intake (most people underestimate). Long term calorie tracking isn’t for everyone, but you should try it for two weeks to learn what you are actually putting in your body.
  • Be mindful of your weighing frequency. If you do track your weight, step on the scale under similar conditions every day and monitor the average rolling number. Pay more attention to monthly and yearly trends to avoid yo-yo dieting and other extreme and destructive behaviors
  • Be patient
  • Keep drinking water
stock market

Treat it like the stock market! Of course there going to be days where the market dips. Would you pull all your money out and quit investing in your IRA? Absolutely not. As long as you are headed in the right direction on a monthly or yearly basis, keep going!

Summary FAQs

Can You Gain Weight in One Day?

Of course, but it’s most likely going to be bloat and water weight. Your body does a good job of regulating itself and will bring it back down to typical levels. It’s likely you can gain some fat, but nothing to worry about. Unless you are having a historic cheat day, you’ll be fine

How Much Does Weight Fluctuate?

It’s not uncommon to see 5-7lbs of fluctuation in a day. It all depends on when, what, and the amount of what you’re putting in your body, exercise, and sleep.

Why Do You Weigh Less In The Morning?

We weigh more at night because we have eaten and drank all day long and our stomach is full. During sleep, we are still metabolizing food and burning calories at rest

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How Safe and Effective are Supplements?

How Safe and Effective are Supplements?

 we “How do you achieve your dream body?” Which would you rather hear between the following?

“Well, that’s hard to say. For most people it takes years and years to make incremental progress. You’ll have to consistently train hard, eat well, get plenty of sleep, stay hydrated, and over time you’ll see significant process, but even then i’m sure your goals and perceptions will evolve over time. It’s a moving target so I think it’s important to fall in love with the process, appreciate your body unconditionally, and be proud of how far you’ve come.”

OR

“If you dump this 60 dollar powder into your drink before you workout, you should be ripped in no time! Three weeks tops. Worked for me bro, look how jacked I am!”

Ah, so THAT’s why the vitamin and nutritional supplement business pulls in 31 billion dollars a year.

Hope in a tub. With a scooper you can never find.

There are of course numerous supplements out there that appear to be safe and effective, but unfortunately, there are also companies that have been caught putting out false claims, fabricating studies, or cutting costs with filler ingredients in order to stack those dollars high.

How do we know what’s safe? Who do we trust?

Introducing labdoor.com. We are in no way affiliated, but I very much appreciate the work they do.

Labdoor is an independent company that buys supplements off the shelves of retailers and tests them in an FDA-approved laboratory. They grade and rank products based on label accuracy, product purity, nutritional value, ingredient safety, and projected efficacy.

You’re able to search for products by name, category, or rank based on their Labdoor score for vitamins, pre-workouts, protein bars, fish oil, creatine, you name it! And again, the fact that they are an unbiased third party company in my opinion solidifies their credibility.

For due diligence, I will point out that they are a for-profit company and they make their money from Labdoor certifications that brands can apply for and also through affiliate links (they let you shop for all of the products directly through their site regardless of score and they receive a portion of the profit).

I went ahead and listed out the top 5 best and worst ranked products from categories that I find to be of most interest: protein, protein bars, pre-workout, and multivitamins. They are each linked so you can see their score breakdown in detail.

Rankings

All scores are based on a 0 to 100 scale calculated by the average of their label accuracy, product purity, nutritional value, ingredient safety, and projected efficacy.

Protein Powder (81 total products tested)

Top Ranked

  1.  Muscle Feast Grass Fed Whey Isolate – 91.3
  2.  Myprotein Impact Whey – 91.2
  3.  Muscle Feast Whey Protein Isolate – 90
  4.  Integrated Supplements Whey Isolate Protein – 89.7
  5.  NOW Foods Whey Protein Isolate – 86.6

Bottom Ranked

76. GNC Pro Performance AMP Amplified Mass XXX – 39.7
77. CytoSport Muscle Milk RTB – 39.2
78. CytoSport Monster Milk RTD – 39.1
79. BSN Syntha-6 RTD – 38.9
80. BSN True-Mass – 31.5

Protein Bars (21 total products tested)

Top Ranked

1. Quest Bar – 85.5
2. Premier Protein – 83.6
3. RXBAR – 82.6
4. thinkThin High Protein Bars – 81.2
5. MET-Rx Protein Plus Bar – 78.5

Bottom Ranked

17. Pure Protein – 68
18. Power Crunch Original – 67.6
19. Vega Sport Protein Bar – 63.4
20. Gatorade Recover Whey Protein – 62.8
21. MusclePharm Combat Crunch – 61.9

Pre-Workout (51 total products tested)

Top Ranked

1. Legion Pulse – 90.2
2. Do Vitamins PurePump – 90.1
3. Optimum Nutrition Platinum Pre-Workout – 85.6
4. Athlean-Rx X-Cite – 83.8
5. Citadel Nutrition Tier 1+ – 83.3

Bottom Ranked

47. Total Body Nutrition 1,3D NOX – 61.1
48. Metabolic Nutrition E.S.P Pre-Workout – 60.6
49. Lecheek Nutrition Speed X3 Test – 57.5
50. Betancourt Bullnox Androrush – 49.2
51. Train Critical FX – 43.9

Multi Vitamins (66 total products tested)

Top Ranked

  1.  Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Men – 83.9
  2.  Garden of Life Vitamin Code Perfect Weight – 83.7
  3.  Nature’s Way Alive Max Potency Multivitamin – 82.6
  4.  Rainbow Light Men’s One – 82.2
  5.  Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Women – 82.2

Bottom Ranked

62. Yummi Bears Organics – 54.7
63. Vitafusion Men’s – 54.6
64. Vitafusion MultiVites – 54.1
65. One A Day VitaCraves Gummies with Omega-3 and DHA – 53.9
66. One A Day Men’s VitaCraves Gummies – 50.5

I’ll close by saying if you can get all of your nutrient needs through food, that’s probably a better deal. Always remember that supplements are in fact supplements. They supplement the rest of your diet. They can be helpful, address some deficiencies, and even be performance enhancing, but always be cautious and review thoroughly before purchasing!

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Best Condiments for Dieting

Best Condiments for Dieting

I think “condiments” has to be up there with “moist” or “curd” on my list of least favorite words to say out loud. Nevertheless, we are going to talk about condiments today as something that gets overlooked way too often when it comes to peoples’ diets. For one, it makes food taste so much better and can even turn the blandest of chicken breast into your favorite go-to meal. On the flip side, making the wrong choices in the wrong amounts can really put you behind the eight ball for your diet progress.

As we know, your net energy balance is going to determine if you lose or gain weight. Simply, if you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight, and if you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. This is an important reminder because people often overlook and underestimate exactly how calorically dense many of the condiments we are putting on our food are.

Consider this hypothetical situation: a person who is currently eating 2,000 calories a day to maintain their weight is eating 4 meals a day. That means they have an average of 500 calories per each meal in order to reach their goal. If you had the suggested 2 tablespoon serving of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce, you are already having 70 of those calories just from the sauce that you are dipping into! Not only is that going to make keeping your caloric budget in check extremely difficult, but those portions are even pretty unrealistic for what I know most people do.
I for one, as an extremist, used to dump mounds of ketchup on my plate whenever I was having my daily chicken tenders and french fries. And that plate was clean afterwards too, it probably didn’t even need to go back in the dishwasher.

It’s not crazy to assume people are most likely using 2-3x of the amount on the nutrition label and if that’s the case for the above mentioned bbq sauce, you are wasting 5-10% of your daily calories on something that’s just supposed to modify the taste, not fill you up!

So while, bbq sauce is delicious and should be enjoyed, for your current situation, it might not be the most appropriate choice and it might be better to limit it or swap for another less calorically dense condiment.

Here are some of the most popular condiment options with their nutrition and some notes. As a note, some of them are dips/sauces/toppings/whatever and maybe aren’t condiments, but let’s not get caught up in semantics, guy who isn’t very fun at parties:

Ketchup (Heinz)

Serving: 1 tablespoon
Calories: 17 calories
Notes: This is one of the more flavorful and lower calorie options out of the classics (ketchup, bbq, and mustard). It has a decent amount of sodium (5% of recommended daily value) which is typical of condiments, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue if you’ve had plenty of potassium, are hydrated, and don’t have an unhealthy amount of body fat or hypertension. 1 tablespoon, however, is not realistic to me. I’m at least using 3-4 for any chicken, fries, etc.

BBQ Sauce (Masterpiece)

Serving: 2 tablespoons
Calories: 60 calories
Notes: I used Masterpiece’s as an example. BBQ sauce ranges where the more southern, watery type bbq sauces usually only run you around 35. A ton of flavor but are usually filled with added sugars and sodium. Again, in moderation, totally fine, but probably not the best option out there.

Hot Sauce (Frank’s)

Serving: 1 teaspoon
Calories: 0 calories
Notes: Yes, you read that right. 0 calories for hot sauce. It’s my go to diet option when i’m trying to lose weight.

Salsa

Serving: 2 tablespoons
Calories: 10 calories
Notes: Another great option for dieting. I personally like using it on any shredded meal options.

Hummus

Serving: ⅓ cup
Calories: 100 calories
Notes: Not a great weight loss option, but hummus does have some nice benefits. It has 4g of fiber and 5g of protein.

Mustard

Serving: 1 tablespoon
Calories: 3 calories
Notes: Mustard has extremely low calories and actually has a really low sodium count at just 55mg. I think it would be a great option if it didn’t taste so disgusting (my personal opinion, not law)

Queso

Serving: 2 tablespoons
Calories: 70 calories
Notes: Lol. I mean come on now guys. Enjoy this in moderation, but if you try to convince yourself that eating mounds of queso is a solid option for your health, we need an intervention. And if you have the self discipline to eat 2 tablespoons of queso at a time, I bow down to you.

Mayo

Serving: 1 tablespoon
Calories: 94 calories
Notes: Probably the worst option as far as condiments go. That’s very dense for what you are getting out of it. It’s very high in fat with basically no other nutritional benefits.

Cool Whip

Serving: 2 tablespoons
Calories: 25 calories
Notes: I think cool whip is awesome to use on fruit as sort of a de facto dessert when you’re getting a sweet craving.

Guac

Serving: 2 tablespoons
Calories: 50 calories
Notes: This is a complicated one. Not the best in terms of calories, but has a solid amount of vitamins A,C, and K as well as some healthy fats. Not bad too include, just watch going too hard in the chips and guac!

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How to Eat Intuitively

How to Eat Intuitively

I’m sure at some point in your life you have downloaded MyFitnessPal or a similar app and dove into the world of tracking your food. Maybe you loved it and felt it kept you organized or maybe you found it cumbersome, boring, and just a flat of pain to deal with. I feel you on that. We know calories are important. We know protein, carbs, and fats play a vital role in our well-being. But do you HAVE to track in order to make progress? What if you just want to feel good and not have to worry about every ounce of food that goes in your mouth? Enter intuitive eating.

Even though we can’t ignore the fact that tracking your food intake would be the most
accurate way to gather data to ensure you are making continual progress, it is not the best option for everyone.

Tracking your food would not be a good idea if:

  • You suffer from a negative relationship with food
  • You would feel guilty if you overate or would try to eat severely under the suggested calorie amount to “make quicker progress”
  • You don’t track your intake accurately (skipping weekends, not including drinks)
  • You don’t enjoy it and won’t keep it up

I will turn around and contradict my point immediately before diving into tips on how to eat intuitively by saying that everyone should at least track for 2-3 weeks. Every bite. Every dab of ketchup. Every beer. You need to learn the rules before you break them so to speak. The reason for this is because most people actually have no idea what they are putting in their body. They don’t actually know which foods contain protein, carbs, or fats or how many calories are in that “healthy” salad dressing they always use. Some people really struggle to lose weight even though they swear they have been eating perfectly. They track for two weeks and realize that a handful of almonds might be running them a few hundred calories and they are gaining weight because of unintentionally being in a caloric surplus. Track for just two weeks. Learn about yourself. See about how much you need based on your goals and then we can hop into intuitive eating.

What are the benefits?

  • Healthier relationship with food
  • Less pressure
  • Increased self-awareness from being in tune with your body

How to Eat Intuitively

Eat protein with each meal

Protein is extremely filling and also will help you recover from workouts. Don’t worry, protein won’t make you “bulky.”  In fact, it is the most thermogenic macronutrient, meaning that it will actually burn a small amount of calories just by being metabolized. Get your protein sources from chicken, fish, eggs, dairy, and even some red meat as well in moderation!

Limit Snacking

This seems obvious right? Those small little snacking sessions add up quick! Most times snacks lack nutrients and don’t fill you up what so ever. They are super easy to overeat and are often the culprit of weight gain. This doesn’t mean never have them by any means! A treat here or there to keep you on track is perfect for your adherence. A great tip from Peter Baker and Layne Norton is to not keep snacks in your house and instead make yourself go out of your house to get a treat if you’d like one. Make it an occasion or a celebration. The amount of effort to walk to your local store might make you think twice about how bad you really need that pint of ice cream you are craving. And if you do… have at it! Don’t feel guilty and get right back on track. We are human.

Eat 3-5 servings of fruits and veggies everyday

This will help you get plenty of micronutrients and fiber into your diet to help keep your body functioning how it should! Fruits and vegetables are typically very low in calories, so you are getting plenty of bang for your buck. They are hard to overeat and will keep you full! High volume and low calorie is a great recipe for success.

Cook the majority of your meals at home

Consistently eating out is not the best option for your health, but also it gets quite expensive! Most fast food is cooked in oil, deep fried, and incredibly dense in calories. It’s delicious and I love it. Unfortunately, it’s a tough habit to break and it’s so hard to have enough discipline to choose the low-calorie options when the tasty burger is one dollar and McDonald’s ice cream machine is finally working. Cook your own meals so you know exactly what you’re putting in your body. It’s a much better experience to be able to prepare your food you are about to eat. The extra effort I feel like makes me more appreciative and grateful and it’s cool to get to enjoy the finished product. But also… definitely go to McDonalds or your favorite place every now and then with friends and celebrate and socialize!

Eat slow fully and mindfully

This is a good way to let your mind and stomach to get on the same page. Your body is sending you hunger signals and if you are scarfing down food, maybe it’ll be too late before you’ve overeaten, and your body didn’t have enough time to tell you that you’ve had enough. Take your time and start to develop a sense of your own hunger satisfaction meter. Remember, you don’t need to be stuffed every time you eat. Aim to be satisfied.

Develop a consistent eating schedule

Eating at the same time is a little more important than you might think. It’s not make or break by any means. It’s not going to be more important than how much you eat or what you are eating, but your body loves routine. Eating at similar times of day will help your appetite get under control. If you are going long stretches without eating and then binging at night and then snacking throughout the day, odds are you aren’t going to feel your best and you might experience some funky swings of energy too. I would aim for 3-5 meals a day as a general rule of thumb, but that can vary based on goals and preference.

Keep hydrated (drink water every 1.5-2 hours)

If your pee is yellow, you’re already dehydrated! Water is individual. 8 glasses a day is a random thing someone threw out there. Just drink water often. That’s it. You’ll be fine! Try not to let yourself get thirsty before you drink. Also, being properly hydrated can also curb hunger. I avoid liquid calories as they add up so quick, so I usually stick to water, almond milk, or a protein shake.

Monitor your progress

Now since you don’t want to track your food, it’s doubtful you want to track in other ways, but I insist that you do in some way to make sure you are headed in the right direction, even if that direction is maintenance. You don’t have to step on the scale necessarily either! You can make a log of your energy and mood every day. You can keep track of your workouts and if you are gaining strength or becoming a better endurance runner. Start being conscious of how your clothes are feeling!

Be patient, be aware, and don’t be afraid of trial and error

Change takes an annoying amount of time. Way longer than you want! But that’s okay, start being concerned about the journey and developing habits. Once you nail down lifelong habits, it won’t even feeling like dieting anymore, it’ll just be living. And don’t be afraid to try a bunch of things out to see what will work for you. You only have your whole life to figure this all out!

Food is so much more than just a pile of calories and macro-nutrients. We are meant to celebrate it as part of culture and to share with others. If you love tracking, awesome, stick to it! I track a little myself even. But it’s nice to know you can still live a healthy life by just following a few rules and listening to your body.

Buy a Program Today!

Want to level up your fitness? Check out the workout programs we offer! All profits go towards raising money to cover the expense of teachers’ classroom supplies.