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8 reasons you experience weight fluctuations and how to manage it

Weight fluctuations are normal — in fact, everyone's weight fluctuates on a day-to-day basis

8 Reasons You Experience Weight Fluctuations | Juniper

When you're on a weight loss journey, a weight fluctuation can feel disheartening when you've gained weight.

The key to weight fluctuations is to remember that they are a human experience. Everyone on the planet deals with daily fluctuations in their weight. And, if you're in the process of losing weight and have experienced increasing days of fluctuations that lean into weight gain, we're here to help.

How much can weight fluctuate in a day?

It's common for your weight to fluctuate up to 4-7lbs (2-3 kgs) per day! This is influenced by what food you eat and when as well as what you drink, the exercise you do and sleep can even play a role.

Why does weight fluctuate daily?

If you're wondering whether daily fluctuations are normal, the short answer is yes. There's nothing to worry about if you're experiencing small changes to your weight each day.

Your day-to-day weight changes largely depend on the food and drinks you consume. Salty food can cause fluid retention, which affects the number on the scales and may make them slightly higher.

Carbohydrates can also cause your body to hold onto water, leading to water weight and bloating. This increase in your weight can stick around until the bloating subsides.

Exercise can help reduce weight but if you're adequately hydrating post-workout, it may not result in weight loss on the scale thanks to your water intake. Bowel movements, on the other hand, can cause your weight to decrease a little after you've gone to the bathroom.

You might notice major weight fluctuations if your diet has changed after losing weight or if old habits have crept in and you're snacking more.

Research has also suggested that weight tends to go up on weekends due to a change in eating or exercise. A 2013 study of 48 healthy adults found that the participants consistently gained weight on weekend days but not on weekdays [1].

This was attributed to a higher dietary intake on Saturdays coupled with less physical activity on Sundays compared to weekdays. This demonstrates how your lifestyle behaviours can cause weight fluctuations and hinder weight loss.

What contributes to weight fluctuations?

You can experience small changes in your weight over the course of a single day for many reasons.

Things that can contribute to your weight fluctuating are:

  1. Consuming salty foods
  2. You haven't had a bowel movement
  3. Your body is reacting to stress
  4. You've eaten a meal high in carbs
  5. You've consumed alcohol
  6. You're dehydrated or overhydrated
  7. Your body is responding to heat
  8. You haven't had enough sleep

All of these moving parts, which can cause weight gain or weight loss, are why it's recommended that you don't weigh yourself at random times of the day as your weight will be heavily influenced by the above factors.

It's also important to remember that the number on the scale can change regularly as weight loss is never a linear process. You'll have days where your weight increases and other days where it decreases.

And, you'll probably experience days or even weeks where your weight stays the same — this is called a weight plateau and can be extremely frustrating when you're continuing with all of your healthy habits but not seeing any change.

What role does the menstrual cycle play in your weight fluctuations?

Weight gain before and during your period is a common experience for many women and there are a number of reasons why this happens.

Firstly, your appetite tends to change throughout your menstrual cycle and at certain times over the month, you may experience an increased or decreased appetite. When your appetite is increased, you may experience a small change in your weight as you may be eating more [2].

The same goes for cravings. Women tend to crave foods that are high in carbohydrates and fat during certain phases of the menstrual cycle and it's common to take in more calories during these times [3].

The final factor is water retention. Bloating is a common symptom connected to your period and when combined with the consumption of salty foods, it could cause the numbers on the scale to slightly increase.

To help combat this, try to fill your plate with lots of veggies and fruit where possible and remember to stay hydrated to help reduce the bloatedness [3].

What if my weight is starting to go up?

That's OK! The good thing is that you noticed a change on the scale and in your body. Now is a great time to stop and take a moment to reflect on your progress so far.

Has anything changed recently that could have influenced the weight gain? Are you doing anything differently?

Here are a few things that might be affecting your weight loss results.

  • Hormonal changes
  • You haven't been as active
  • Some old habits have crept in
  • Winging it with portion sizes
  • Increase in stress levels
  • You're not getting enough sleep

It's normal to gain weight — your body is in a constant state of flux and is changing every day — so try not to stress about this too much. Now is the time to get back to basics and recommit to your healthy habits.

Managing weight fluctuations

Losing weight is rarely a straightforward endeavour so try to take it a day at a time. But, there are a few things you can do to manage weight fluctuations.

When to weigh yourself

Your weight is influenced by everything from exercise to illness, alcohol intake and water consumption. This is why it's recommended that you weigh yourself at the same time every day to avoid getting huge discrepancies.

For example, if you weigh yourself as soon as you wake up in the morning, continue doing so at this time of day. It's also good to keep things consistent when you're weighing yourself.

Try weighing yourself without shoes and clothes if you can, or wear similar garments when hopping on the scales each day. Weighing yourself at the same time of day will help give you an accurate representation of where you're at with your weight and help you jump back on the weight loss train.

Get back to basics

Another way to help combat major changes in your weight is to get back to basics. This will look different for each person but start by reflecting on any changes that might have occurred recently.

From here, you can discern what might be influencing some weight gain and makes changes accordingly. For example, if you haven't been as active lately, it might be helpful to book a few classes at the gym or schedule some walking dates with a friend.

If afternoon snacking has become a regular occurrence, it might be time to change what you're snacking on or make your lunchtime meal more filling.

While weight fluctuations are normal, they can be frustrating when you're on a weight loss journey. Try to remember that every choice you're making now is contributing to a healthier you.

Navigating life events

When you’re on a weight loss journey, navigating life events can be difficult. Even when you have the foundations of a healthy diet and are across all the basics of healthy eating and moving more, life isn’t always simple and things like work can get in the way of your well-established routines.

When you’re trying to lose weight, a change in your routine can cause unnecessary stress — especially if you’re experiencing weight fluctuations. You may worry about falling off the bandwagon and undoing your hard work.

We all have different lifestyles and it’s important to know your dietary and movement patterns can be managed around whatever your lifestyle might be. Some tips for lifestyles include:

The office worker

  • Stay hydrated
  • Take the stairs, walking breaks or regular stretching breaks
  • Don’t skip breakfast
  • Replace sugary snacks with nutritious ones
  • Bring your own lunch at least twice a week

The traveller

  • Choose meals that include whole foods like lean protein, whole grains and vegetables
  • Carry healthy snacks with you
  • Limit deep-fried or fast foods
  • Avoid treat foods from the servo
  • Try a quick hotel room workout or go for a walk instead

The shift worker

  • Keep a consistent eating pattern; for example:
    — Wake up at 6pm
    — Start work at 9pm
    — Aim for meals at 7pm, 11pm, 3am and 7am prior to heading to bed
  • Bring a balanced meal from home containing protein and carbohydrates
  • Make hydration a priority
  • Limit caffeine intake during the second part of your shift
  • Avoid large meals late into your shift
  • Try to sleep at the same time each day

Eating out while losing weight

Eating out can be a stressful time for those who are actively trying to lose weight. The concern of wondering what to order and whether or not it will fit your goals can be daunting.

However, this should not be the case and there are a number of strategies that can be implemented so that you can enjoy your time out in restaurants or cafes with friends and family. These strategies include:

  • Choosing diet drinks and/or alcohol (or skip these altogether in favour of water)
  • Eat a snack before heading out
  • Ask for sauce/dressings on the side
  • Divide and share things like finger foods and dessert
  • Look ahead at the menu if it’s available
  • Avoid items that are deep friend

While weight fluctuations are completely normal, they can be incredibly frustrating when you’re trying to lose weight. Try not to stress about the fluctuations too much — these will even out eventually.

Try a holistic programme

Losing weight is difficult and better managed when you have a strong support system to keep you going. A holistic approach and a medical weight management programme like Juniper's Weight Reset Programme encompasses every aspect of your wellbeing to help you reach your goals of a happier you.

Juniper’s Weight Reset Programme combines proven medication, health coaching and ongoing support to help you lose weight and keep it off. We prescribe a GLP-1 medication called Wegovy, which contains the active ingredient semaglutide.

Semaglutide is clinically proven to reduce your appetite and make you feel fuller for longer, while also reducing cravings by targeting the rewards centre in the brain. For long-term success, changing your eating and movement habits is also crucial, which is why we offer a comprehensive programme that includes 3 core pillars of lifestyle change with the assistance of our UK clinicians.

We can help you break habits that might be impacting your weight and help you hit your weight loss goals sooner.