When on a quest to lose weight it can sometimes be easy to get caught up with small shifts in weight on the scales (“I’ve put on a gram, I’m soooo fat!”). The truth of the matter is, what the scales say often doesn’t reflect where you are in terms of progress surrounding your health and fitness goals.
If you find yourself on an emotional roller coaster, with today’s weigh-in determining how you feel for the rest of the day, then consider the following facts about why the scales might be saying what they are saying.
Short-term weight fluctuation patterns are mainly determined by changes in fluid. So if your weight regularly rises and falls within the same parameters every week this is probably down to fluids rising and falling. This can be influenced by the type and amount of food you eat, salt and hydration levels, as well as recent activity you have partaken in.
INCONSISTENCY, CARBS & WEIGHT-GAIN
If you have been disciplined for a few days and then you ‘indulge’ you may notice your weight shoot up. This is often down to having increased carbohydrate rich foods. When we eat carbs, our water levels rise to help store the energy in the muscles. It is this change in water that can cause us to gain weight, particularly after a phase of eating a low carb/calorie diet, although many mistakenly think they have gained fat.
REDUCING CARBS & CALORIES
You may also notice your weight quickly drops when you limit carbs or reduce calories. As you have less ‘coming in’ your body uses up carb storage so your water levels drop, which reduces your weight. Usually if you continue to eat this way your body will start to use up body-fat as fuel and your body-fat will start to decrease. However many are inconsistent in dietary habits so water levels will just continue to go up and down without getting to the actual fat-loss.
A SIGN YOU ARE PROBABLY ‘LOSING WEIGHT’
If your weight fluctuates but overall is steadily dropping you are more likely to be losing fat and/or muscle.
A SIGN YOU ARE PROBABLY ‘GAINING WEIGHT’
If your weight fluctuates but is overall steadily rising you are more likely to be gaining fat and/or muscle.
How my weight fluctuated over 7 days
I prefer not to weigh myself unless I feel there is good reason to, but for the sake of this article I weighed myself early every day over the course of a week. The image above shows three readings; two at both ends of my own weight spectrum and one in the middle. As you can see I generally fluctuate around 2kg (over 4llbs). If I wanted to reduce my body fat and see my weight consistently go down then I would reduce calories and/or carbohydrates or increase energy expenditure through activity and I would be consistent with these changes.
Take away thoughts
If your weight on the scales fluctuates this is normal. If you are trying to lose weight but the scales seem to just go up and down this could be related to inconsistency in your eating patterns. Another thing to consider is that the scales are not always the most reliable source of information in terms of fat-loss. Instead of developing a love/hate relationship with the scales note how clothes fit, how you feel and take on board comments from others.
Louise Appel Personal Trainer, St John's Wood & Personal Trainer Maida Vale offers customised, individual Personal Training and Pilates at Lords Cricket Ground, St John's Wood. Personal Trainer Harpenden & Personal Trainer St Albans is located at EsTR Fitness.
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