If you’ve ever followed a diet, you know the detrimental effect the scale can have. Getting on that scale after a week of very good behavior and a lot of exercise, only to see that you’ve gained a pound. Angrily, you walk to the pantry, get out those cookies and eat the whole package, because that healthy eating doesn’t even make you lose weight. Been there, done that!
So what is weight exactly? Weight is something that’s a man-made agreement, measuring the gravitational force that’s pulling your body down on this earth. So, if you read this again, you see that it says nothing about the amount of fat, bone, muscle, water, other tissues or intestinal content (lol haha, I’ll talk about poop a lot in this post). We tend to zoom in on that fat, so when we lose weight we think we lose fat and when we gain weight we think we gained fat. Fortunately, it’s not that simple!
Nowadays it’s popular to say ‘Oh, that’s water weight’, or ‘muscles are heavier than fat’. The last one always makes me lol, gaining a pound of muscle in 1 week…. really…. tell me your secret, because no bodybuilder on the heaviest schedule ever gained a pound of muscle in one week! There is some truth to it though, a very muscular person weighing 150 lbs will look much thinner than a non-muscular person weighing 150 lbs. Muscle doesn’t ‘weigh more’ than fat, muscle is denser than fat, so 1 lbs of fat is much bigger than 1 lbs of muscle. Ok, so let’s get back to the scale and your bodyweight.
Your body doesn’t have a calendar. It doesn’t know it’s weigh-in day. The body only cares about surviving and having homeostasis. Homeowhat? Homeostasis is a difficult way of saying: the body wants the internal conditions to remain stable and relatively constant. Examples are temperature, acidity, amount of salt dissolved etc. So, for example; you ate a lot of salt, the body wants a certain amount of sodium to water percentage, so to be able to maintain that percentage, your body will try to retain more water and you’ll weigh more. How to get rid of water weight? Why? Why do want to get rid of water weight? The body will autocorrect and automatically in a day or two it’s gone. It’s not fat, it doesn’t cause any harm, just relax, move on and let your body take care of itself!
So now let’s talk poop! This is a big contributor to weight fluctuations. How? Well, food eaten travels through your intestines until all nutrients are taken from it and you finally excrete it like poop. This doesn’t happen in a few hours. It differs from person to person and from time to time within the same person. It’s influenced by what you eat, how much you eat and how much you drink. Sometimes food takes more than a week to finally end up in the toilet. Did you know that carbs need a lot of water to digest? So if you’ve eaten a carb heavy meal, there’s a lot of water inside your intestines. No worries, when it’s digested, it’ll also leave again! A lot of women are obsessed by going to the toilet. They feel like they need to go daily or else something is wrong and they say they’re constipated. Actually anything between going 3 times a day and twice a week is normal! You don’t need extra stuff like those intestine improving yoghurts… Just eat enough fiber, fresh fruit and veggies and drink enough water, it will come! And go if you feel like it, because keeping it inside because you’re at work actually does create constipation….. So how does it affect your weigh ins? Well, if you just had a great, nice and big poop, of course you’ll weigh less than before you pooped. Does that affect your weight loss progress? Not at all!! The same can be said about eating something. You´ll weight more after a big meal than you did before you ate the meal. Does that make you instantly more fat? No! I sometimes read stories of people who weigh in at night and don’t eat anything during the day, only water and tea. That really sounds silly to me, because the weight of the food in your stomach doesn’t make you fat, and don’t you want to measure fatloss?
Ideally, weight shouldn’t be measured weekly if you can’t handle these fluctuations! Weekly weigh ins are great to track your progress though, I do it too, sometimes even daily! But I don’t let it ruin my mood, it’s just like that, the body takes care of itself and will regulate perfectly without us stressing about it! The long term progress is what counts, so please, do yourself a favor and don’t stress too much about those fluctuations. They are very normal and natural and sometimes don’t show the fat you’ve actually lost. Don’t worry, go on, you’re doing great!