If you’re a typical woman, you’ve probably noticed that your weight changes significantly throughout the course of the day. These daily weight fluctuations can be really frustrating. One minute you think that your weight is on track and the next minute you feel like something is wrong. So why does your weight change during the day? There may be more than one reason.
How Much Weight Change is Normal?
According to the experts, it’s normal for your weight to change from day to day and even in the course of a day. Jim White is an ACSM Health Fitness Specialist and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. He says that in the middle of the day your weight can increase anywhere from 1-3 pounds from your morning weight.
Dr. Kathleen Wyne agrees. Dr. Wyne is a board-certified endocrinologist who practices at Ohio State University. She says that up to a five-pound weight fluctuation is typical, but that it depends on the weight of the person. People who are heavier may gain more weight in the course of a day.
Common Causes of Weight Fluctuations
So why does your weight bounce up and down? There are a few difference reasons your weight may change throughout the course of the day.
- The food you eat during the day adds weight to the scale until it is fully processed and digested by your body. This is one of the reasons that you are generally lighter in the morning.
- Fluid intake. The drinks you consume (water, sodas, sports drinks, smoothies) also contribute to temporary weight gain. Not drinking enough water may lead to dehydration, which causes weight loss.
- Macronutrient balance. A diet heavier in carbohydrates may lead to an increase in the scale from water retention. Jim White says that for every gram of carbohydrate you consume, your body holds on to three grams of water.
- Sensitivity to salt. If you consume a diet high in sodium, you’re more likely to retain water, especially if you are sensitive to salt. Dr. Wyne notes that people who are insulin resistant may be more susceptible to water retention from salt-sensitivity.
- In most cases, you’re not likely to see a huge weight fluctuation from the sweat you lose during exercise, says Dr. Wyne. But if you are out-of-shape or if you exercise in extreme heat you may sweat more and notice a difference on the scale as a result.
- Scale inaccuracy. If you weigh yourself on your home scale in the morning and on the gym scale in the evening, the difference you see may be due to technical issues. If a scale hasn’t been recently calibrated, it may not be 100% accurate.
- Hormonal changes. Menstrual hormones may cause your body to retain water during certain times of the month, but according to Dr. Rachel Pessah-Pollack, hormones probably won’t cause your weight to change within the course of day. Dr. Pessah-Pollack is a board-certified endocrinologist who practices at The Mount-Sinai Hospital in New York City. She says that changes in estrogen and progesterone levels aren’t likely to cause daily weight gain, but that menopausal women may experience an increase in fat mass and a reduction in lean body mass which can contribute to weight gain.
Should I Worry About Daily Weight Changes?
Dr. Pessah-Pollack says that most short-term fluid shifts are caused by water retention. But she adds that there are some endocrine diseases, such as hypothyroidism, that can cause weight gain and water retention. If you are concerned that your water retention is not normal, your doctor can provide guidance to help you determine the cause.
In most cases, however, daily weight changes are nothing more than water and food fluctuations in your body. There are ways to lose water weight, but most of them are either ineffective or unsafe. If you eat a healthy diet, don’t over-do it with the salt shaker, and stay hydrated before and after exercise, the changes you see on the scale are likely to be not only normal, but healthy.
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