The Truth About Scales and Weight Fluctuations

 

Medicine, hormones, salt, and even the weather may cause temporary weight gain and throw the scales off balance.

If you have ever wondered why the scale seems to fluctuate so much and how it's possible to gain two or three pounds overnight, then you know just how fickle scales can be. They never seem to tell the whole story. Did you know that an overcast or stormy day can actually add several pounds to the scale? Low pressure holds water in your tissues and since our bodies are mostly water, an overcast day can make us gain weight (or fluid).

Another culprit…hormones. They can add two to six pounds over a three- to seven-day period while anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen as well as steroids may cause fluid retention. Even not getting enough sleep may slow down your body's ability to burn carbohydrates thus making more glucose available for fat storage and increasing your appetite through rising cortisol levels (the stress hormone). And just three shakes of salt, or ½ teaspoon, can add one pound of body weight since one gram of sodium can hold onto 16 ounces (or 1 pound) of water. This explains why your clothes fit tighter the day after a salty meal.

It is important to remember that your body's weight is a combination of water, muscle, bone, fat, and tissue, and changes on the scale are not always the best reflection of fat loss. Try not to get on the scale more than once a week and judge how your body feels instead. Don't let a single number take away the changes you see in your strength and aerobic activity, the way your clothes fit, and the confidence you are gaining from taking charge of your health and wellness.

Tammy Beasley, RD, CSSD, CEDRD is a registered, licensed dietitian, spinning instructor, and certified specialist in sports nutrition and eating disorders. She is the author of Rev It Up-The Lifestyle Diet That Puts You In The Driver's Seat.

 

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By: Tammy Beasley, R.D.

February 2010