Why is my weight fluctuating so drastically?

Heather Campbell
 min read

Why is my weight fluctuating so drastically? It’s a question which is asked by many.

Why is my weight fluctuating so drastically?Sounds familiar, right? You want to lose weight and are passionate about losing those pounds. You watch what you eat, exercise more, and keep a close eye on your weight. And yet you wonder why your weight is fluctuating so drastically.

As a general rule, anyone who regularly steps onto the weighing scales sees weight fluctuations. This could be due to hormones, menstruation, regular medicines, and irregular bowel movements. Fluid balance and diet habits also play a part, as does weighing oneself under differing conditions.

You step on the scale in the morning, and suddenly, you have gained 4 pounds compared to last week. So how is it that your weight fluctuates so much?

Read on for the main reasons for those annoying weight fluctuations and how to beat them.

Why is my weight fluctuating so drastically? Introduction

Weight fluctuations due to improper weighing are quite common.

Sometimes your weight doesn’t really fluctuate, but the wrong way of weighing is the culprit for fluctuations on the scale. You might not think about it, but how you weigh yourself can affect the final weight the scale indicates.

For example, did you know that you can never compare different scales? Use one and the same scale on which you do your weighing.

To check if it is reliable in showing your weight progression, you can step on it twice in a row. If the scale shows the same value twice, you can assume that it shows a reliable weight progression.

Do you have a reliable scale? Then put it in a fixed place and leave it here. Indeed, a change of location or surface may also give a different weighting.

Tip: If you’re due a new set of scales, read our other article for buying criteria How do I choose a scale for my body? Considerations & selection tips

Did you know that the softer the surface, the less reliable the weighing is. So preferably place your scale on a hard surface and not, for example, on a soft floor such as a carpet.

Weigh consistently at the same time

Make sure to provide the same weighing conditions. During the day, your weight usually fluctuates quite a bit. Often you are a little heavier in the evening than in the morning.

Choose to weigh yourself under the same conditions every time.

When is the best time to weigh myself?

Preferably immediately after getting up without eating or drinking anything and after going to the toilet.

Your fluid balance affects your weight

Your fluid balance can have a significant impact on your weight.

For example, suppose you step on the scale and record your weight, then drink 17 fluid ounces of water, then weigh yourself again. Then you are also immediately about 17 ounces heavier.

Besides drinking, there are other reasons why you may retain more fluid and be heavier as a result. For example, eating a salt-rich meal.

Furthermore, eating more carbohydrates can also affect your weight.

Not that carbohydrates make you fat immediately, but they can be stored as a reserve in your muscles and liver in the form of glycogen. And for every unit of glycogen your body stores, your body retains 3 units of fluid.

In addition to the influence of our diet on our body’s hydration, hormones also impact your fluid balance. For example, most women are a little heavier when they have their period.

This is because you usually retain a little more fluid under the influence of hormones.

The intestinal system does not always cooperate

Anything you’ve eaten but haven’t excreted yet contributes to increased weight.

Therefore, you will be heavier with a full stomach than when you weigh yourself on an empty one.

Also, a substantial variation in the size of your meals can significantly impact your weight.

If you suffer from constipation you will also be heavier than when you suffer from diarrhea, for example.

Therefore, make sure you eat enough fiber to ensure proper bowel function. And that’s not only great for your weight but also for your belly and your overall health and well-being.

Medication can cause fluctuations and weight gain

Some medications can significantly impact weight, and there are several possible reasons for this.

For example, medications can cause a stronger appetite or cause increased thirst. Some medicines slow down the thyroid or metabolism.

Over time, these things have a more structural impact on weight and don’t cause your weight to fluctuate as much.

But some medications affect your fluid balance. You can notice this in swollen ankles and lower legs and in annoying weight fluctuations.

Antidepressants, antipsychotics, medications for diabetics, the birth control pill, corticosteroids, and beta-blockers are examples of medications that can affect your weight.

If you think that this may be impacting your weight, contact your doctor to see what medication can be adjusted and how.

6 tips for reliable weighing

As you have already been able to read, several factors can affect your weighing and your body weight.

Here are some tips for a reliable measurement result on the scale:

  • It’s incredible how many people still weigh themselves with their clothes on… Of course, it’s easy to think that it makes little difference. Clothes, however, weigh more than you might think at first glance. If you wear just a different outfit, it can make a difference on the scale. The solution is straightforward: Always weigh yourself naked or in your underwear. This way, you minimize any fluctuations as much as possible!
  • Use one scale, check that it is reliable, and use it in the same place.
  • Always weigh yourself at the same time under the same conditions. Preferably immediately after getting up, without clothing, on an empty stomach, and after emptying your bladder.
  • A tip for women in terms of menstruation. Menstruation can make a big difference in terms of body weight. A layer of mucous membrane has built up in your uterus in the weeks before you get your period. During menstruation, you lose this and the associated weight again. So depending on the severity of your period, you can lose quite a bit of weight. That weight then gradually increases again during the rest of the month for the new cycle.
  • Moisture can have a significant impact on your weight. So don’t weigh yourself right after you eat a big meal or if you have consumed a sizeable salt-rich snack (French fries, burgers, pizza, etc.) the night before.
  • Weigh yourself at most once or twice a week. It is usual for your weight to fluctuate slightly, so there is no point in overweighing. By weighing yourself once or twice a week, you can better understand your weight evolution. In addition, it can be very frustrating to see the fluctuations on the scale every day. So limit your weight measurements to 1-2 times a week maximum, definitely not more.

Pay attention not only to weight

Don’t just focus on the number on the scale, and don’t immediately panic when your weight fluctuates.

Also, take note of other changes such as looser clothes, watches, or rings that are no longer tight, and consider taking progress photos of your body.

But it’s not only that. Eating healthier and exercising more are crucial to seeing an effect on the scale. In addition, a healthy diet and increased exercise provide so many more benefits than just lower body weight.

You will feel fitter, stronger, and more energetic, and your fitness will improve significantly. And those are all results and effects that may be more important than that number on the scale for overall fitness.

Why is my weight fluctuating so drastically? Conclusion

If you track your weight loss strictly, weight fluctuations are obviously annoying. After all, you can’t keep track of exactly how much weight you’re losing.

Monitoring your weight daily never paints a good picture of your actual progress in terms of weight loss.

What you can do better is to weigh yourself weekly (and then always at the same time, and naked or in basic underwear). That way, you can ensure that you are weighing yourself under the same conditions every time.

Related postScale obsession: How do I stop being obsessed? Tips for letting go

About Heather Campbell

As a dietitian, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More