I dislike scales for two reasons. First, day-to-day weight fluctuations do not provide a true indication of your health. Second, scales don’t always measure your weight accurately as a marker for health and nutrition. Your weight can fluctuate 3 to 5 pounds a day for a variety of reasons. Waking up at 200 pounds after heading to bed at 195 doesn’t mean your athletic performance will flatline. Below, I list six reasons why body weight is not an accurate representation of health.
1. Water Retention
Your body will naturally retain fluid if you consume a meal higher in sodium than your usual diet. This can cause the scale to read a few pounds higher the following day.
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2. Hormonal Changes
For women, bloating and fluid retention during menstruation can add a few pounds on the scale. Also, an increase in estrogen during this time of the month can increase levels of aldosterone, which can cause the kidneys to retain fluid, promoting weight gain.
Athletes need to be mindful that dehydration can cause the body to protect itself by retaining water. Several hormones exert profound control over fluid regulation. If you’re dehydrated, your body works harder to retain water, leading to weight gain.
4. Glycogen Storage
Endurance athletes in particular work to make sure their diets have adequate carbohydrates to store proper amounts of glycogen. Glycogen has water bound to it, so healthy hydrated cells, important for athletes, can show up on the scale. After a hard strength workout, muscles also store glycogen to re-build, which is why the scale may actually shoot up after exercise.
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It may be uncomfortable to discuss, but if you’re having a difficult time in the bathroom due to changes in exercise or diet—or lack of fiber or fluids—it only makes sense that you might see a higher number on the scale.
After just 24 hours on a restricted diet, you can decrease your metabolic rate by 15 to 30 percent! When you go on a restricted diet, your body goes into starvation mode, slowing down your metabolism. This can actually cause you to store extra calories, causing you to hold more weight.