What’s Up With Weight Fluctuations?

It happens all the time.

You’re doing everything right. Eating well, exercising, getting lots of sleep and then the scale goes up two pounds in one day!! What the heck is happening?


I mentioned in a recent blog posts that letting weight fluctuations get to you can be derailing your results. In this post, I want to explain why.

This might not need to be said, but if you’re weighing yourself you need to weigh in on the same scale, at the same time of day, in the same clothes. If you’re not doing this, there’s too many variables out of control. I recommend, if you’re going to use the scale as one measurement tool, weighing in on Friday mornings at home in your underwear. Since you’re weighing in once per week you’re less likely to get distracted by fluctuations.

Something else to point out is that I am talking about weight loss and gain. Not fat loss and gain. The scale doesn’t show you fat mass change. It shows you total mass change. Ask yourself whether or not focusing solely on total mass change is intuitive to your goals of fat loss or not.


Okay, onto the factors that might be causing a weight fluctuation:

  1. Salt. If you have more salt than usual in your diet one day, your body is going to hold onto more water (scale goes up). Conversely, if you have less salt than usual your body is going to hold onto less water (scale goes down). Look back over your nutrition and see if you can identify any major changes in salt consumption to account for a fluctuation.
  2. Carbohydrates. One way our body stores carbs is in our muscle. Our bodies also take water along with those carbs into the muscle cell. If you consume more carbs than normal, weight will go up. If you consume way less carbs than normal (like when on the keto diet), you may see a drop in weight.
  3. You haven’t had a bowel movement in a day or two.
  4. Workouts. A challenging workout damages our muscles (a good thing) and to repair themselves the muscles take up and store carbs and water. You might hold onto a little more weight after a challenging leg day versus a rest day.
  5. Time of meals. If you always weigh in on Friday mornings, but one Thursday night you eat dinner way later you will likely see the scale go up the next day due to having less time to digest that meal than usual.
  6. Hormones. If you’re a woman you are probably very familiar with this. Tracking your period can be a nice way to have piece of mind so that you know and expect when the monthly water retention will be.

I’d also like to point out that these fluctuations are 100% normal. The goal of the information about isn’t so that you can manipulate your salt, carbs and workouts to never fluctuate. It’s to give you the reasons why it happens so you can better ignore it and stay on track.

Here’s a graph of my weight taken almost daily from a recent cut:

Progress is not linear.

If I had freaked out every time the scale went up or didn’t change, I would have likely not been as successful. Because usually people then restrict, overeat, repeat. Stop the madness 🙂

You’re probably not going to stop caring about fluctuations overnight. But keep reminding yourself of the science behind fluctuations and slowly you’ll start to change your own mind.

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