If you’ve ever gone through a period of obsessively weighing yourself like I did, you may have noticed that you weigh more at night than you do in the morning. I know when this happened to me I thought….really? Or am I just being paranoid?
Well, it’s actually true. You do in fact weigh more at night than you do in the morning. And here are 11 reasons why…
#1: Drinking Water During the Day Adds to your Weight
Every two cups of water that you drink during the day equals one pound of weight. It is recommended that adults drink at least half a gallon of water every day. That is eight x eight-ounce cups of water. By the end of the day, your body may not have had time to excrete all of that water, and it may reflect on your scale.
That is not to say you should cut down on the amount of water you drink each day. Being dehydrated may cause your body to go into a shock state, and it will try to retain as much fluid as possible. This will negatively affect your health and contribute to the increased number on the scale.
Weight gained from drinking water is only temporary, and your weight will decrease as soon as you urinate. The benefits of staying hydrated and healthy far outweigh any negligible short-term weight loss you may experience from not drinking enough water.
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#2: Salt Intake Fluctuates your Weight
Salt intake during the day is a significant contributor to your fluctuating weight.
You will often notice the increase on your scale on the same day you consumed a lot of salty food. Salt causes your body to retain fluid which translates to increased weight. In the evening, your body will not have had time to completely clear your system of the salt that you consumed.
If you have consumed more salt than usual during the day and want to limit its effects on your weight as quickly as possible, there are some things you can do.
- Keep drinking water.
It may sound counterproductive to consume more water as it weighs a lot and immediately adds to the reading on the scale. However, water travels through your system very rapidly and will collect any toxins and extra salt that it can on its way. Drinking more water after you have treated yourself to an extra side of fries with your lunch will minimize the effects of fluid retention caused by salt.
- Eat potassium-rich foods
If you know that you have overdone the salt, you can counter some of the effects by grabbing a potassium-rich snack, like a banana, some strawberries, or a handful of unsalted nuts. Potassium helps your kidneys flush out extra salt, which assists in quickly restoring your body to its normal weight.
- Stay active
Try to move around as much as possible during the day. Even if you aren’t going to sweat the salt out at the gym physically, moving will increase your metabolic rate and keep things moving in the right direction – which in the case of your scale, is DOWN. So if you are primarily desk-bound during the day, make time to walk about occasionally and get that heart rate up.
#3: Food Takes Time to Digest
If you have just enjoyed an extra-large pizza with your friends, it may not be the best time to weigh yourself immediately. The food you eat needs time to be processed by the body. The weight of the food you consume will immediately be added to your overall weight; however, it decreases as soon as digestion kicks in.
Every calorie that you consume needs to be used, stored, or eliminated by your body. It can be used immediately for energy or stored for later use. The waste products are moved to the bowel and kidneys. They are later excreted in the form of urine or as a bowel movement.
#4: Carbohydrates Add Water Weight to your Body
Most of us love carbs. Bread, rice, fries, and pasta typically makes up a large proportion of our daily diet. While carbohydrates are not necessarily bad, eating them does cause the body to retain extra water to store this fuel. For each gram of carbohydrate that you eat, you will retain about three grams of water.
Be mindful that the increase that you observe on your scale in the evening when you weigh yourself may not only be a direct result of the carbs that you ate but also because of the water necessary to process that food. Also, keep in mind that carbohydrate foods are frequently high in salt, which retains water in the body. So that may also be a cause of the slight increase in your weight.
#5: Are you Backed Up?
If you weigh yourself before you poop and again after you have used the bathroom, you will find that you are slightly lighter. Although you will not lose much weight after a bowel movement as the average stool only weighs about 0.25 pounds. It is essential to ensure that you do not become constipated. If your bowel gets backed up, the weight you should be losing each day packs on, but besides that, it can be really uncomfortable.
The discomfort of constipation will affect your mood, and you may therefore be less active than usual. This lack of activity will, in turn, affect your metabolism and decrease the ability of the bowel to move as it should.
In the short term, this extra weight from constipation is marginal, but regular or long-term constipation should always be avoided, especially if you are trying to lose weight. There are several things you can do to avoid becoming constipated:
- Drink more water
- Eat food that is high in fiber
- Exercise regularly
- Use the bathroom as soon as you feel the need
- Avoid stress as much as possible
- Lower the amount of milk or cheese products that you consume
- Have a bathroom routine and try to stick to it
- Don’t let it get worse. If you feel like you are becoming backed up, take a mild laxative. But if the condition does not change, it is essential to consult with your doctor as chronic or prolonged constipation could indicate some other issue.
#6: Alcohol – Friend Or Foe?
Alcohol is a diuretic which means that it robs your body of fluid. That may sound like a good thing if you are trying to lose weight. You may have noticed that very soon after consuming alcoholic beverages, you need to urinate. This increased urge to urinate goes hand in hand with a possible fluid imbalance in the body.
To counter the fluid imbalance caused by consuming alcohol, the body starts to retain fluids from all other food or beverages consumed. If you have ever spent any time in a bar, you will know that there are usually snacks available that are high in salt. Drinkers frequently overeat salty snacks and enjoy carbohydrate-laden food with their beverages. This leads to fluid retention and an overall increase in weight.
#7: You Lose Weight While You Are Sleeping!
This is the best news! Your body will continue to metabolize and uses stored energy during the night while you sleep, so you will continue breathing and sweating. If you are asleep, you are not eating or drinking, so no additional fuel is added to the body’s supply. In this way, reserves continue to be used, which causes your weight to decrease.
Your lowest weight of the day will usually be immediately after you urinate each morning. Consistently getting a good night’s sleep can therefore be one of your most effective weight-loss tools. Establishing a consistent bedtime routine will support your efforts to get enough sleep. If you struggle to fall asleep, you can try some of these tips:
- Stick to a bedtime schedule – If your body becomes used to the same routine, you will start relaxing quicker and fall asleep faster
- Slow the tempo – Have a cup of tea, play soothing music, read a book. Find something that is quiet and calming and incorporate it into your bedtime routine. Our modern lifestyle often keeps us on constant high alert, and our brains struggle to find peace to fall asleep.
- Turn off the lights – Melatonin is a chemical produced by your brain that induces sleep. It cannot do that effectively if it is too light. That is the reason you wear a sleep mask if you are on a plane. It is really difficult to fall asleep with the lights on. To effectively lose weight while you are sleeping, you need to enjoy a prolonged deep sleep. Switching off the lights will help your brain switch off faster.
- Keep it cool – You will fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer if your body remains at a comfortable temperature. During the summer months, this can be a challenge. If you have the option of turning down the aircon in the evenings, it should create a more favorable environment for a good night’s sleep.
#8: Your Shoes Play a Part
While it is entirely normal and expected to weigh more at night than first thing in the morning, one of the most obvious causes of any drastic increase may simply be your attire. When you get out of bed in the morning, it is unlikely that you would be wearing heavy shoes. It is always best to weigh yourself with bare feet.
Each of your shoes may be adding a pound of extra weight, so be sure to take them off before you board the scale and don’t give yourself an unnecessary fright.
How Much Does Weight Fluctuate During the Day?
Any drastic or sudden unexplained change in your weight must be investigated, but keep in mind that, on average, a person’s weight fluctuates by around five pounds a day. If you are puzzled about why you weigh more at night, you need to keep in mind that your body needs time to process the food and beverages consumed during the day.
Rather than weighing yourself repeatedly during the course of the day, you should stick to one regular time. Record the weight at the same time every day and use that data to monitor your weight goals. Keep in mind that fluctuations in your weight may not only be related to what you consume but may also result from hormonal changes or medications.
Other Reasons your Weight May Fluctuate
Other than the time of day, there are other reasons you may find your weight fluctuating. Here are a couple of common ones…
Medication Can Affect your Weight
If you are taking any medication and have noticed that your weight is increasing, it may well be a side effect of the pills you are taking. Do not stop taking your prescription but go and discuss your concerns with your doctor or pharmacist. There are several ways that different medications could affect your weight:
- Increasing water retention
- Increasing your appetite
- Affecting how your body stores glucose which can lead to fat deposits in the body
Menstruation Can Affect your Weight
After carefully watching your diet, you hop on the scale and notice the dial shooting higher than you were expecting, don’t be alarmed. Most women experience fluid retention and bloating before their menstrual period. Fluid retention seems to peak on the first day of your period, so don’t be discouraged with a slight increase on the scale. It is entirely normal and unavoidable. Stay hydrated and push through this time.
A note of caution, though. The hormonal changes you experience before your period may cause you to binge eat or crave things you wouldn’t usually eat. Be aware of what you are eating. It might not be the fluid retention associated with your period that could be causing you to gain weight. It may very well be the comfort food we often carve for at that time of the month.