Question: I recently bought a really good bathroom scale and I weigh myself every morning. On days when I think I should have lost weight, the scale says I gained two pounds. This puts me in a really bad mood. What’s going on…?
Answer: The scale weighs not just changes in fat loss (or fat gain), but also changes in body water and intestinal contents. Hence, your weight can fluctuate one or two pounds daily depending on if you are constipated, have diarrhea, or are bloated premenstrual. Do not expect your body to consistently weigh, let’s say, 120 pounds. Allow your weight to vary within a range between 118 and 122 pounds.
Water-weight quickly comes and quickly goes. It is not permanent. It is not body fat. You should not let this normal fluctuation depress your mood for the day.
Many factors affect water-weight. These include:
• hormonal shifts that occur not only premenstrual, but also if you are stressed or over-tired.
• salty foods, such a Chinese dinner or a bag of popcorn.
• hot weather or a hot environment, such as a hot meeting room.
• overeating carbohydrates, such as when you “carbo-load”, you store about three ounces of water along with every ounce of carbohydrate.
Rather than weigh yourself every morning, I suggest you weigh yourself only once a week–or better yet, not at all! The scale rarely tells you anything you do not already know. If you feel thinner, if your clothes are looser, and if people are even commenting that you look leaner, then you have lost body fat–despite the number on the scale.
Rather than starting each day by weighing yourself, how about starting it by smiling at yourself in the mirror and appreciating your body for all the wonderful things it does to help you live a fulfilling life? That sounds more fruitful to me!
Nancy Clark MS RD
Sports nutritionist and author, Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook
Information provided by Nancy Clark, MS, RD CSSD (Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics), Chairperson of the Nutrition Committee of the Female Athlete Triad Coalition. Nancy Clark counsels active people at her private practice in Newton, MA (617-795-1875). For more information, read her popular Sports Nutrition Guidebook and food guides for new runners, marathoners, soccer players and cyclists, available via www.nancyclarkrd.com.