I want to give a little scenario that may sound familiar, and then explain what’s actually happening with it in an effort to encourage you:
Blossom regularly eats fewer calories than she expends (a calorie deficit), and the number on the scale gets smaller most weeks. She has been noticing her clothes fitting a little more loosely and has received some compliments from her co-workers.
She typically weighs herself on Monday mornings, after using the bathroom and before eating or drinking anything so that she has a fairly consistent measurement.
This happy Monday morning, she hopped on the scale, excited to see another .7 pounds down, but nearly choked when she discovered that she had GAINED THREE POUNDS!?! She stepped off the scale sad, shocked, and confused. Why work so hard and sacrifice so much for THIS? She had tracked her calories and remained in a deficit all week except yesterday, and that wasn’t even a bad eating day.
What has happened here? Did Blossom gain back two pounds of body-fat? Unlikely. Here are a few probably explanations:
She had a lot of carbs. This is probably the most common culprit. Carbs are not bad. AT ALL. But a lot of people are taking the low-carb approach, and this means that their body’s glycogen stores are typically pretty low. Glycogen is basically a store of glucose in the liver and muscles that primarily comes from the carbs you eat, and each gram of glycogen brings with it several grams of water. People who eat a lot of carbs have a lot of glycogen, and naturally, people who don’t eat a lot of carbs, well, don’t. So, if Blossom went with her buddy Bubbles for pasta on Sunday afternoon, then she is likely storing more glycogen and water than normal.
2. She had a lot of sodium. Sodium holds water, period. So, if you went out to eat pretty much anywhere except Chipotle who doesn’t seem to flavor their food, then you’re probably holding on to some water here too. Numbers one and two commonly happen at the same time, causing the effect to be even more dramatic.
3. Some of the food has not made it through the entire process. For all sorts of reasons, sometimes our food doesn’t reach its final destination as quickly as normal. Guess what? That food doesn’t just lose its weight because you chewed it, and it still factors in to what you see on the scale.
These are probably the three most common reasons that the scale goes up when you don’t think you’ve let things slip all that much (It is a different story altogether if you have become loose with your food, missed a bunch of workouts that you normally get completed, etc). All of these will work themselves out with no further action taken by you. Just keep doing what you’re doing, what you know works, and don’t stress, scream, or give up when this happens.
As a final note, I might literally add 5-7 pounds to the scale between the time I woke this morning and the time I fall into my bed tonight. My body weight, however stays more or less the same on average because I burn my glycogen stores through activity and use the bathroom. Hang in there.
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