Is it possible to gain 5 pounds overnight?? Why the scale fluctuates day to day.


How many of you weigh yourself everyday? How many of you have a melt down when you see that you are up 5 pounds from the previous day, even though you counted your calories to a T? How is that possible that you gained 5 pounds overnight?

If you have read my blog before, you know why I hate the scale. The scale drives everyone nuts. It tricks us into feeling like a failure. Let me ask you a question and truly think about the answer. If without you knowing, someone altered the scale to show that you have lost 10 pounds over night.  Would you believe it? Would you truly think you successfully lost 10 pounds in a day? I’d say 90% of you would.

So even though deep down we know it’s impossible, we convince ourselves to believe it. With this post, I hope you will understand why the number on the scale doesn’t reflect your true weight. I hope to lessen the anxiety that we get when the number on the scale is not exactly what we were hoping for.

The scale fluctuates day to day (up to about 10 lbs.) because of water retention. There are many factors that affect the amount of water we retain each day. After all, our bodies are made up of 60% water:

  1. Carbohydrates. Carbs are like sponges; they soak in a lot of water causing excess water retention. So if you had a lot of carbohydrates the day before, especially at dinner, you will be sure to have extra pounds due to water retention.
  2. Sodium/salt: Salty foods and foods high in sodium (sodas, canned foods, packaged foods) will also cause water retention. Ironically enough, the best way to remove the sodium is to drink lots of water.
  3. Bowel movements. It can take up to several days for the food you ate to be completely eliminated from the body. So if you haven’t made a trip to the bathroom lately, that can play a huge role in those extra pounds on the scale.
  4. That time of the month. Ladies, never ever EVER weigh yourself before your menstrual cycle.  Usually a few days before and during your period you will see a few extra pounds on the scale (up to 10 actually). Hormonal changes cause your body to keep more water in your cells.
  5. Alcohol. Another culprit in the extra water bloat. Alcohol dehydrates you causing your body to hold onto water. After a big night of drinking, getting on the scale will only tick you off, so just don’t do it.

Here is why it is impossible to gain 5 pounds of fat overnight:

  1. A pound of fat is 3500 calories. So in order for you to truly gain 5 pounds of fat overnight you would have to consume 17,500 calories.
  2. On average your body expends 2000 calories a day just to sustain daily living (organ function, digestion, daily activity). So you would have to eat more calories on top of that to gain weight.
  3. It is just not possible. I think even if you attempted to eat 17,500 calories your body would reject it.

Your body is so smart in a sense where it always does whatever it can to survive. It is the same concept with your body and food. If you are not feeding your body with food, it will go into starvation mode causing you to store fat to protect your organs. If you are dehydrated, your cells will hold onto as much water as it can in order to survive. If you drink water, your body will then realize you aren’t in a survival state and will be able to release the extra water from your body.

So next time you get on the scale and see that it reads 5 pounds higher than it did the previous day, know that its not “real” weight gain. Instead of having a melt down, drink some water, avoid salty foods, sweat a little through exercise and know that tomorrow you will be back to where you want to be!!!


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