Content: Understanding the Cause of Weight Fluctuations

Closeup of a woman’s feet with painted toenails stepping on a scale to measure her weight.

Stepping on the scale can feel a lot like a roller coaster ride when you expect to see one number but are graced with another.

If you notice a change in the number on the scale from week to week, or even day to day, it’s usually not something to worry too much about. Weight fluctuations are normal and harmless for most people. In fact, a person’s weight can fluctuate as much as 5-6 pounds per day on average, so if you see minimal changes in the number, don’t fret.

On the other hand, if you’re seeing a big peak or valley on the scale without any changes to your diet, exercise or lifestyle routines, it may be a more significant indicator of an underlying health condition, especially if you are experiencing other symptoms, such as fatigue, reduced energy levels or mood changes.

Let’s explore why your weight may be fluctuating in further detail.

Food and water intake affects your weight the most

In simplest terms, your weight is determined by the number of calories you consume versus the number of calories you burn. When these numbers aren’t balanced, you may notice a fluctuation in your weight.

What you eat and drink matters, especially regarding your weight. If you’ve recently made changes to your diet, aren’t watching what you eat as closely, or have experienced a reduction in overall water intake, that may be why you’re experiencing a change in the number on the scale.

Here are some impactful reasons you could see a difference in your weight as related to food and drink.

Carbs and sodium lead to water retention

The way your body processes carbohydrates and sodium often leads to water retention, directly impacting your weight. Bloating causes a temporary increase in your weight. Over time, based on the consumption amount of carbs and sodium, the gain may stick around.

If you consume a high amount of carbs or high-sodium foods, consider cutting back to reduce water retention. Not only will it impact your weight, but it will help with all other processes in your body.

Food and drink are weighted

As with any liquid or solid, food and beverages have weight. If you consume a meal and then weigh yourself, the number on the scale will be increased no matter how many calories are actually in what you’re eating. This ties directly to the amount of weight you ate or drank.

Healthy foods pass through the body more quickly than unhealthy foods, meaning that your weight shouldn’t fluctuate as much when consuming a healthy, balanced diet.

Urine and stool hold weight

The waste from what you eat and drink may also add to your weight. It is never a good idea to weigh yourself when you have to use the bathroom, as your weight will include the weight of your urine and feces.

Lifestyle factors play an important role in your weight

Aside from the role that food and drink play in your weight, lifestyle factors can contribute to slight fluctuations in how much you weigh.

Some factors that could affect your weight include:

  • Menstrual cycle in women
  • Exercise levels
  • Medications
  • Health conditions
  • Illness
  • Alcohol intake

Underlying health conditions that weight loss could signal

Although slight weight fluctuations are normal for children and adults, any significant weight changes, including rapid gain or loss, could indicate an underlying, undiagnosed health condition.

Some of the most common health conditions associated with rapid weight change include:

  • Underactive or overactive thyroid
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cushing’s Syndrome
  • Depression
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Narcolepsy
  • Menopause
  • Addison’s Disease
  • Cancer

Stay current on your health

Staying on top of your health is imperative to your overall well-being. If you’re noticing changes in your weight, we recommend scheduling or stopping in for a physical exam to receive a thorough review of your vital signs, health history and current health standings.

Although weight fluctuations are considered normal for most people, understanding your unique health situation will help you understand the changes in health that may be playing into your weight differences. Stop in seven days a week; no appointments are necessary.

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