There are many things about our body we cannot control - especially when it comes to weight loss. While we can control our diet and exercise, we can’t control every variable that influences body weight.
Over the course of a long term weight loss journey, there will be stalls – periods where there is no further decrease in body weight despite maintaining a diet and exercise regimen that was previously producing results. And though stalls can feel like they last an eternity, they don’t last forever.
The best way to get through a stall is to maintain the healthful habits that have worked for you. Over time, weight loss should resume. Maintaining weight loss is progress in my book! Now that we’ve talked about being prepared for weight loss stalls, it’s time to discuss predictable weight spikes.
Expect Fluctuations in Body Weight
Body weight naturally fluctuates for a variety of reasons. Many of these are out of our direct control. So, controlling our food intake doesn’t grant us total control over our body weight. Daily, weekly and monthly fluctuations WILL occur even for those who, by all measures, are “doing everything right.” It is important to know that a weight spike doesn’t necessarily mean that body fat has been gained.
Here are some factors that influence body weight, outside of fat gain or fat loss:
- Changes in total body water due to electrolyte balance
- High sodium intake after a period of restriction will lead to water retention
- Returning to normal sodium intake will allow excess water to come off
- Muscle and liver glycogen depletion/repletion
- Dropping a significant amount of carbohydrate from the diet and/or adding a lot back in
- Hormonal disturbances related to chronic stress, inadequate sleep, menstruation, etc.
- Significant changes in dietary intake
- Decreasing total food volume consumed = less weight on average carried in the gut
- Some foods stay in the intestinal tract longer than others which affect scale weight
Now, that you’re aware of some of the culprits that can cause weight fluctuations, I hope you’ll think about this the next time you’re worried that a spike in your weight means you’ve blown your progress.
Closing Thoughts: Trends Matter Most
A single measurement, such as weighing on the scale, can give you an idea of where you stand at a given point in time. But trends over longer periods of time are more valuable than single measurements. In other words, the direction you’re trending is more important than where you currently stand. Rather than focusing the number on the scale, pay closer attention to how you look and feel, and how your clothes fit. You’ll be surprised at how much this can change your mindset and improve your body composition for the better.