If you’re one to hop on the scale every day, odds are, that number is never the same. All kinds of things affect the number you see, from your diet to the time of day you weigh yourself. Because these fluctuations are normal from day to day, it might be better to weigh yourself once or twice a week or take body measurements instead.
Your Carb Intake
If you had a carb-rich meal the night before, your morning weigh-in may be alarmingly high. Don’t fret. Some of the carbohydrates you have in your diet turn into glycogen, which is simply the stored version of carbs that stay in your muscles and liver. Your system can quickly turn glycogen into energy to get you through a long workout or strenuous activity, if need be. While glycogen is certainly beneficial, it does hold onto water. So when your glycogen stores are full, your body could be retaining a bit more water -- hence the increase on the scale.
While working out regularly will help you stay in shape and keep your waistline trim, it could affect that number you see on the scale. When you exercise, particularly if you’re doing weight-bearing exercise, you’re gaining muscle. Muscle is much denser than fat in terms of volume and if you keep building muscle, that scale may not budge -- it could even go up gradually every few days or weeks. Before you panic about a plateau or increase in weight, try on your favorite pair of jeans or pants that were previously feeling tight on you. If you’re on the right track, they should feel a bit looser. Additionally, weight-bearing exercises can cause muscle tears, leading to extra fluid retention until the tissues heal.
For women, hormonal fluctuations throughout the month can cause water retention, explains Dr. Melina Jampolis, a California-based nutrition specialist and physician. This is why you may notice that your pants feel a bit snugger when your period is near -- you’re not necessarily gaining weight, you just have more water in your system than usual. By the tail end of your cycle, your system should be back to normal.
When you weigh yourself, you should do so at the same time of day for each weigh in. Weighing yourself after moving your bowels and emptying your bladder, for example, first thing in the morning before breakfast, is probably going to yield much more accurate results than jumping on the scale with full bowels and a belly full of food. Drinking fluid can add some weight, too. So if you always have a cup or two of coffee first thing, hold off until after you get your weight reading. Lastly, remove any clothing if possible. Jeans, sneakers, sweaters and other bulky articles of clothing can add weight. Weighing yourself in the buff in the privacy of your own bathroom is best to get an accurate reading.