You went to bed last night at 149, finally happy you broke that 150 mark, doing a little happy dance as you get ready for bed. Then you wake up the next morning and you read 152…
“But…I thought I was at 149. What did I do wrong? How did I fail?”
Whether you want to admit it or not, you’ve experienced this and the slew of thought processes afterwards.
Now..there is a small chance that the weight added is there to stay and was fat gain…but this is very unlikely.
For starters, let’s talk fat. One pound of fat is roughly 3500 calories. Meaning that if you gained 1 pound “overnight” that you ate in a surplus of 3500 calories…highly unlikely. To see if you have gained actual fat, you’d instead want to look at the trend over 1-2 weeks. A 500 calorie daily surplus would result in about a pound/week increase and a 250 calorie surplus would result in 0.5 pound/week increase. But again, this isn’t something that’s achieved overnight, so it likely isn’t the reason for your weight spike.
If you've been either at maintenance OR in a deficit, the spike on the scale likely is not due to added fat...unless you've been sneaking in a few extra untracked treats here and there and are falsely reporting your macros, which likely isn’t the case! The point here is that it takes a decent, consistent surplus to build muscle/fat resulting in an actual weight gain. A 3lb. jump overnight being due to 100% added fat just isn’t possible.
So, what is the reason for the jump on the scale?
There could be a number of reasons you’re seeing a jump on the scale.
#1 – Normal Fluctuation
First and foremost, our bodies are constantly changing. We don’t live in a bubble and no matter how hard we try. No day is exactly the same. Even if we meal prep the same meals, there is going to be some variation between the measurements you made. You’re going to drink different amounts of water. All of this is going to make your weight fluctuate and that is normal.
#2 - Weather
Certain days will be hotter or more humid causing you to be more dehydrated and potentially see a bigger drop on the scale.
#3 – Food and Bloating
Carbs generally retain 3g of water for every 1g of carbohydrate stored. If the day before, you ate a big bowl of oatmeal or potentially had a refeed day or just even ate later closer to bed, then you’d likely wake up a little bit heavier. On the contrary, if your fiber intake was low the previous day and you’re a little stopped up and haven’t had a bowel movement, then you’re definitely going to see a spike on the scale. Lastly, alcohol will always change up how your body weighs (usually lighter the day immediately following, then heavier the two days after that.)
#4 - Biology
If you're a female, your cycle will 100% cause changes on the scale. Generally, we see a spike in the days leading up to and during your period followed by a drop in weight immediately following and 2-3 weeks after. There are some general things you can do to help this weight gain (eat fermented foods, prioritize food quality, supplement magnesium, drink ginger or dandelion root tea for bloating) but ultimately, it’s your body’s way of preparing to grow a whole other human.
And now for the biggest culprit:
#5 – Stress and Inflammation!
Inflammation and stress are also two big reasons I see a temporary rise on the scale. If you had a harder workout the day before, you would be experiencing more inflammation and therefore see a higher number. If you were dehydrated or even over hydrated, you would see a spike on the scale because your body is stressed and responding to that stress or simply retaining that water. If you didn’t sleep well the night before, you’ve got some inflammation spiking your weight temporarily. If you had a shitty day or experienced a lot of stress, then this too likely will cause a weight spike.
I’ll put it into perspective how much stress affects things. Two weekends ago, I went to Boston and had my wallet stolen in the airport connecting through New York. I lost my money, cards, ID, you name it. I had to have money wired to me, my passport overnighted to the gym I was working at, and cancel all my cards to prevent fraud. Then I find my Airbnb is a hostel and in a terrible part of town…hello stress. THEN I get home and 6 days later, do Murph. In the past 2 weeks, my sleep has been garbage and my stress has been through the roof. I’ve been 99% adherent to my macros… and post-Murph woke up EIGHT POUNDS heavier. Literally was 153 lbs. the day before and woke up at 161. Did I gain 8 lbs. overnight? NO. I just experienced a shit-load of stress over the past 2 weeks. Now over the past 4 days, I’ve changed some things (which I’ll share with you below), and have been able to get it down 5 lbs. to 156 lbs… Now if this had been fat gained, then this large fluctuation wouldn’t have all happened in the course of a week.
Fortunately for you, the solution typically works for all 5 reasons…Unfortunately for you, you have to do it to feel the benefits.
Usually, the solution is REST and RECOVERY.
Sleep 7-9 hours. Non-negotiable…this has got to happen! This is the best way for your body to unwind and recover…so you gotta do it.
Limit processed foods. Processed foods do bring a bit of inflammation with it and will involve more of an insulin/cortisol response. Instead switch mostly to whole foods so you’re getting in all the micronutrients and fiber and supporting your body’s natural detox system.
Drink water. Fluuuuuush all that junk out. Drink half your body weight in water plus 15oz for every hour you exercise. This usually is between 80-130oz for the average individual.
Replenish electrolytes. Hydration isn’t enough especially as we head into the summer heat. Use recovery drinks, Nuun tablets or simply start salting your foods.
Stretch/walk/mobility. Get the blood flowing in a non-stressful intense way. We’re going for very low intensity here. Yoga, RomWod, walking, swimming, all light calming exercises.
The most important thing is to NOT freak out. Panicking and restricting your foods will only cause more inflammation and stress and make matters worse.
If you go 2-3 weeks with no change, then bring intake down 100-200 calories (20-30g carbs, 10-15g fats) and see if there is a change. If you are in the middle of a cut and your weight loss has plateaued, then you may want to make this change a bit more drastic and make a bigger cut so you can keep that consistent 0.5-1%bw/week weight loss rate.
The scale is only part of the picture and never tells the whole story. The weight WILL come off. I promise.
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