Daily Weight Change Explained: 5 Factors That Can Affect Your Weight

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If you weigh yourself regularly, you've probably noticed the number on the scale rising or falling without warning. The reality is, small changes in weight are completely normal and expected.

Body weight can shift throughout the week and even during the day. In fact, an average adult can lose or gain two to eight pounds over the course of a few days. There's a weekly rhythm to weight variation with higher numbers on the scale in the beginning of the week and lower numbers toward the end.

Weight Fluctuations Explained

It's not uncommon for people to get upset when the number on the scale doesn’t budge in the preferred direction. The good news: Just because your weight goes up or down from one day to the next doesn't mean you're not on track with your body weight goals.

Wondering why your weight changes so much? Here are a few key reasons for normal weight fluctuations.

  1. Water: It's almost impossible to lose or gain several pounds of real weight in one day. What's more likely? You're losing (or gaining) water weight. In fact, water retention is a common cause of large upticks on the scale. For instance, loading up on processed and salty foods can lead to greater water retention and weight gain, while going for a 5-mile run on a warm spring day can cause temporary weight loss.
  2. Hormones: Weight changes are especially common during and around a woman's menstrual period. Many women gain weight in the days before and during a period. Weight gain during menses often results from water retention and usually normalizes toward the end of the cycle.
  3. Fasting: When you sleep, your body continues to work, but without additional food and water for energy. Our bodies use the calories we consume during the day for this nighttime functioning. Plus, during times of rest, your body loses water through sweat and breath.
  4. Stress: When you're stressed, your satiety signals don't work as well as they should, so you may end up feeling more or less hungry. Stress can also lead to cravings for processed and high-sodium foods, since your body may be seeking energy for comfort.
  5. Medications: In addition to dietary changes, certain medications and health conditions can cause weight changes.

Weight Monitoring: What You Should Know

Our bodies have a built-in regulatory system to maintain a consistent weight. According to the set point theory, your weight may go up or down temporarily but ultimately tries to return to its highest weight.

My advice: Weigh yourself at least once a week and record the weight. Choose the same day each week and the same time of day. I prefer Wednesdays for weigh-ins since it helps sidestep weekend fluctuations. Ultimately, the trend over several weeks will show which direction your weight is heading.

If your weight starts to creep up, ask yourself, What do I need to do differently? And be mindful of major weight fluctuations. Big shifts in body weight and weight cycling (for example, yo-yo dieting) can lead to an increased risk of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.

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To find a doctor or registered dietitian at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-436-7936.

Patricia Jurek, RD, MBA, is the manager for Henry Ford Macomb Hospital’s Center for Weight Management. Learn more about Patricia.

Categories: FeelWell