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By: Matt Weik

Have you ever jumped on the scale and the number on the screen just about made your head explode?  You look down and wonder how the heck you've gained weight after you've worked so hard all week to burn off stubborn body fat and lose weight.  Weight fluctuations are enough to make you want to toss your scale out the window and spend the rest of the day on the couch eating potato chips but there are actually a few reasons behind why you may be experiencing weight fluctuations (in both directions) so don’t stress too much.  

Below, you will find six common reasons why you may see weight fluctuations up and down.  These changes could be due to one reason in particular or many that have compounded.  Regardless, look at all six causes and narrow down what the culprit could be, and work towards fixing the issue.


  1. Too Much Sodium

When it comes to sodium intake, it’s a double-edged sword.  If you are an active individual or an athlete, you absolutely need sodium in your diet and in higher quantities than a sedentary individual.  Those who are active demand this vital electrolyte to help maintain proper fluid balance.  However, just like what was just mentioned, if your body isn’t requiring sodium to replenish what was lost from say sweat, it can have a negative effect on your weight.

One of the biggest causes of weight fluctuations is high sodium intake.  The increased intake can pull water and cause you to retain it.  You may notice this if you ever ate an extremely salty meal and when you looked in the mirror you appeared bloated and puffy.  Eventually, your body will correct the issue and the excess water retention can be excreted but if you wanted to eliminate this issue, pay close attention to how much sodium you are taking in each day and in what quantity per meal.


  1. Large Meals

The next reason for weight fluctuations should make a lot of sense.  If you stepped on the scale first thing in the morning after fasting all night and then stepped on the scale after dinner the same day, your eyes may pop straight out of your head.  The swing in weight is probably a fairly noticeable increase (several pounds).  That doesn’t mean you gained that much body fat or weight in less than 24 hours, it’s simply the difference between having zero food in your system to start the day and being three or more meals deep when you step on the scale later in the day.

Don’t get frustrated by the yo-yo effect going on with your scale.  Instead of weighing yourself in the afternoon or evening, try to do it in the morning to prevent weight fluctuations from affecting the numbers.  Likewise, if you had a huge meal right before bed, you can expect to see the numbers show higher the following morning to reflect that large meal.  Don’t get frustrated, these weight fluctuations happen to everyone if you aren’t paying attention to when you hop on the scale.

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  1. You’re Backed Up

If you aren’t comfortable talking about poop, well, move onto the next reason for weight fluctuations.  The fact of the matter is, your weight can increase by simply not staying regular.  If you aren’t taking in enough fiber daily, it can throw off your schedule and how often you “drop the kids off at the pool.”  

Not enough fiber (as well as not enough water) can back you up and when you’re backed up, you’re going to see the number increase on the scale because you aren’t eliminating waste effectively and efficiently.  


  1. Drinking Too Many Liquids

Similar to consuming large meals is drinking too much liquid.  Hydration is important but hyperhydration can cause weight fluctuations.  One thing to think about is if you are drinking a lot of water, it can artificially increase the number on the scale.  However, water does not contain any calories and therefore isn’t necessarily a bad thing and once excreted through urine will cause the number on the scale or normalize.

Just to throw some numbers at you to better understand this reason, if you were to drink a couple of glasses of water, you may see the number on the scale increase immediately by as much as one pound.

If you weigh yourself in the morning, use the bathroom first to eliminate any excess liquid to get a more accurate weigh-in.


  1. Your Hormones Are Out of Whack (And Not Just for Women)

Hormones are a very common reason that you may be experiencing weight fluctuations – especially when it comes to stress.  The stress hormone, cortisol, can do a lot of nasty things when it’s elevated.  One of the most common things cortisol can do is cause inflammation in the body which may lead to water retention.  When this happens, you will appear soft, bloated, and the weight on the scale will definitely go up.

If you wanted to better regulate your cortisol levels to help minimize weight fluctuations, find ways to relax and destress.  This could be through medication, reading a book, hitting the gym, sitting in a quiet space, doing yoga, or simply focusing on your breathing.  Whichever you choose, practice it daily to better manage your stress levels.

And specifically for the ladies… I’m sure I don’t need to get into what happens every month.  You’re already more than aware that during that time your weight tends to go up temporarily.

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  1. Increase in Sweat

On the complete opposite side of the spectrum from what we have been mentioning above is a reason you may weigh yourself and notice a decrease in body weight.  Sure, it could actually be a decrease in weight and body fat, but it could also be due to a loss of water from sweat.  

When you sweat, you are eliminating fluid from your body.  If you do not properly rehydrate yourself, it can cause the scale to temporarily read lower than what your bodyweight truly reads at.  Not only is it important for you to drink water throughout the day to help maintain hydration but water also plays a vital role in bodily functions and performance.

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