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Reasons for sudden weight gain or weight loss and why you shouldn't freak out!

Many clients and former clients have had a ‘problem’ which they swore I saved them from.

More accurately, it's something I have saved them from doing something silly in reaction to.

It didn't matter if they were complete fitness newbies or more advanced trainees who had achieved single-digit body fat; this problem doesn't discriminate. — It makes people equally miserable and causes them to question the hard work they are putting in.

This problem they had was thinking sudden weight fluctuations were changes in body fat.

[Please switch your images on!]

Have you ever weighed yourself one morning to find you've gained 5 pounds?

This is common if you've been dieting and you have a day with less restraint.

What about the opposite? Have you ever woken to see you have lost a few pounds?

Of course you have! It's happened to your clients too. To stop them freaking out, you need to explain why this happens.

If you’re doing what you’re “supposed” to be doing (that is, you’re exercising and hitting your calorie and macro targets), then you have nothing to worry about.

Body fat isn't suddenly gained or lost overnight. The same is true of muscle mass. Sudden gains or losses in weight can only happen due to changes in gut content, glycogen storage, and water.

Fluctuations in your weight will happen from day to day and are unavoidable.

To illustrate this point, check out the client data below. There is nothing unusual about this; you can expect to see something similar in your data also.

[Please switch your images on!] Client daily weight fluctuations over 4 months.
Client daily weight data over 4 months.

But look below at what happens when you log weekly averages instead of daily weigh-ins. The trend is much clearer, right?

Client weight data with weekly averages plotted.

This illustrates the importance of assessing your progress based on weekly average data, not the daily data, which can cause you to lose your mind!

Anyway, let's look at some of the most common reasons why our weight fluctuates from day to day:

Reason #1: You ate saltier foods.

When we consume more salt than usual, the body holds onto more water. This effect lasts for a few days. (The opposite is true also.) As 'junk' foods tend to have a higher salt content, this explains why your weight can increase considerably the day after you ate just a couple of slices of pepperoni pizza, for example.

Reason #2: You ate more vegetables.

Most vegetables are low in calories but have a high fiber content. Fiber helps sticks around in your gut to help with digestion, but it means the content of your gut weighs more.

Weight-class competitors (boxers and UFC fighters, for example) know this. The week before a fight, their diets are usually comprised of very easy-to-digest, low fiber foods to minimize 'gut residue.'

Reason #3: You’re dehydrated.

Have you ever been out for a night of drinking and find yourself peeing a ton?

That’s because alcohol has a dehydrating effect. So when you wake up the following day and weigh yourself, you may find that you’re a few pounds lighter than usual.

Confusing things, a night of drinking is often accompanied by excessive food consumption. This can push your weight up because you'll have a higher residual gut content than usual, and you'll hold onto some water (more on this in reason #2).

You don't need to do anything to fix this other than be patient and get back on track with your diet and training.

[Please switch your images on!] Expect sudden changes in weight like this. Don't let them shake your confidence.
Expect sudden changes in weight like this. Don't let them shake your confidence.

Reason #4: You ate more (or fewer) carbs than usual.

When we eat carbs, the majority is converted to a sugar called glucose and used for energy. Any excess is stored in the liver and muscles in the form of glycogen so that it can be used later on.

However, 1 g of glycogen storage requires ~3 g of water.

That means if you eat more carbs than usual, you’ll also retain more water. And if you eat fewer carbs, then you’ll retain less water.

By simply missing a meal one day or having an extra snack, you can affect your water retention levels. And that can equal sudden changes in your weight.

If you’re still worried about sudden weight changes being fat-related, consider this:

It would take at least 3,500 kCal above your maintenance to gain one pound of fat.

That means you'd have to gag down the equivalent of 83 chicken McNuggets (on top of your regular maintenance calories) to risk gaining one pound of fat in a day.

That type of excess calorie consumption doesn’t happen by accident. So don’t worry too much about these sudden scale changes being fat gain.

Next time you see something odd on the scale, here’s what you’re going to do — you’re going to smile, acknowledge it, and ignore it — cause it’ll fix itself in just a few days anyway.

Thank you for reading. 🙏😊


Content from Andy Morgan, Rippedbody.com

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