Keep Calm and Diet On: Some Common Causes Of Weight Gain That Shouldn’t Cause A Freak Out!
When you are counting calories, weighing and measuring your food, eating monotonously and keeping bad boyfriend foods out of your kitchen, you are beyond bummed when you see the scale inch upward even a little.
But if you’ve been dieting for even a few weeks, you’ve likely started to notice that fluctuations on the scale are common. And I get how frustrating that is to see when you’re working hard to get into your white jeans in time for summer! As I tell my clients who are watching the scale like a hawk when they come for their weekly weigh in, “remember, I catch you at a moment in time”… and these are 7 things that can make that moment feel like a real buzzkill. But keep calm and diet on: weight changes from one day to the next are generally temporary if you are truly dieting (as opposed to “watching”).
- You Drank A Ton Of 0-Calorie Beverages
It’s true that staying well hydrated is a good move if you’re trying to lose weight, but the first few days of upping your water intake could actually cause the number on the scale to creep up, too. Weight is not just the measurement of fat in the body. It is the weight of your bones, organs, muscles, fluid and waste. When you’re dehydrated, you actually weigh less! Let’s say you don’t drink much fluid one day, and the next morning you wake up and your weight is down. Then you drink a ton of water and the next day it looks like you gained 2 pounds. That does not mean you gained 2 pounds of fat; it just means that your body was depleted of water the day before. Your kidneys will eventually flush out all that water. Just be patient.
- You Ate More Salt Than Usual
It’s no secret that certain types of foods can affect your weight, and sodium (aka salt) is one that can have an immediate (although temporary) impact. Costco rotisserie chicken (I gained 2 lbs. once after eating it!), miso soup, soy sauce, processed meats (even low calorie ones), many cereals, veggie burgers, cottage cheese, soups, frozen breakfast sandwiches (even the diet friendly ones), fried foods (which you really shouldn’t be eating much of if you are actually dieting), have high amounts of salt, which causes you to retain water in your gut. This results in a bloated belly and a higher number on the scale. The good news? Water weight is always temporary and goes away within a day or two.
- You Strength Trained Yesterday
And lifted heavy. Really heavy. Lifting weights can speed your progress in the long run, but it can also temporarily cause your weight to appear higher. I’ve had so many clients tell me they had a ‘perfect’ day: They packed their lunch, made dinner at home, came in at their calorie level for weight loss, and had a really killer workout with their trainer. Of course they get up in the morning expecting the scale to ‘reward’ them for a day well done. When they see the scale go up instead of down, they understandably get bummed out. But here’s the thing: Intense exercise causes inflammation. In this case, inflammation is actually a good thing. When you are in the gym lifting weights, you are creating tiny little tears in your muscle fibers. When those fibers build back up, that’s what causes a change in body shape, tone, additional muscle and an increased metabolic rate. Your body takes on more water to help with temporary muscle repair, and that can translate to a higher number on the scale in the very short term.
- You Ate More Carbs Than Usual
While carbohydrates are not the enemy of weight loss (eating too many calories is), eating an unusual amount of them over the course of one day or even a few days can make it seem like you’ve gained weight. Carbohydrates are the only macronutrient that holds water (fat and protein are the other two macronutrients). This is why people lose weight faster initially on a lower-carbohydrate diet: the body doesn’t hold onto the extra water. It’s also why people gain weight quickly when they eventually go off that lower-carbohydrate diet: that water weight comes back and the scale bounces up!
- You Haven’t Gone To The Bathroom In A Few Days
No need to get into the nitty gritty here, but if you’re constipated, you’ll see that reflected on the scale. Waste weighs.
- Your Monthly Visitor Is About To Come
Most women know their weight can be affected by their menstrual cycle, but some are surprised just how much weight they can temporarily gain because of their hormones. Two to three days prior to your period, you may experience weight gain due to water retention. The average woman will gain about two to four pounds in water weight during this time. No need to panic though; you’ll drop down to your normal weight once you actually start to menstruate. Period.