“I’ve put on 3kg overnight.. it must be fat!…..” 😳
You hop on the scales in the morning and to your horror you’ve put on several kg seemingly overnight! Like most of us the first reaction is probably to feel demoralised and demotivated, think all your weight loss efforts have been wasted and assume you’ve put however many kg of fat on overnight.
I do say this a lot, but that’s because it’s true – the scales are not a very accurate measure when it comes to changes in bodyfat levels. Short term, significant, fluctuations in scale weight are normal and natural – especially large ones that seem to happen overnight. These do not mean changes in body composition – so you haven’t suddenly put on 3 kg of fat or muscle. Rather they tend to be related to water levels – intra and extracellular hydration.
Even if you did manage to eat an extra 20000 calories in one day (an impressive feat anyway!) then you STILL couldn’t store that all as 3kg of fat. Some would be expended in physical activity and metabolic processes, including the cost of digestion itself etc. The extra weight you see on the scales in short term fluctuations is water retention and food volume.
The reasons for it may include – a really big meal the night before, especially one that might be high in fibre, or red meat (which takes longer to digest). It could be due to your workout routine recently which can lead to short term fluid retention in the muscles. General hydration levels and salt levels will also impact it – especially if you had high levels of salt in your diet the day before. Hormones play a massive role – particularly for women and can cause fluctuations of up to 5kg doe to water retention. Lack of sleep or high levels of stress will also cause you to retain fluids. Carb heavy meals and alcohol do exactly the same thing too – you retain fluid – short term. Now that is NOT to say you need to avoid any of these things – you should be working out, you should be eating carbs etc but it may help to explain any fluctuations you see.
So if your scale weight is up today, then before you let it get you down, just stop and think about all the reasons it is probably fluctuating. Focus on being consistent with your calories instead, and use things like the way your clothes fit, or longer term trends in weight gauge progress (i.e. if you want to weigh yourself daily then take an average each week and use the trend of that average to gauge if you’re making progress).