6 Reasons for (short term) more weight on the scale

Don’t feel so bad … this image, which can sometimes make us frantic and start the day in a bad mood right away, can almost always be explained, and usually "harmlessly" so.

Because even if we had binge-eaten 18,000 calorie marathons during the night … even then, those extra kilos on the scale would not be "fat gain".

Yes – if we were to eat a total of 18,000 calories more than we consume during the day over a longer period of time, we would actually be 2 kilograms heavier. But overnight – impossible (just as vice versa by the way – spontaneously losing 2kg of weight is not "fat loss").

But then what does the weight consist of? Simple … almost always water.

Our body consists of over 60% water. Water levels are maintained by complex regulatory circuits, hormones and minerals.

1. Have you been eating unusually salty foods?

Salt (NaCL) is an important sodium supplier for the body. Sodium and potassium are with the help of the hormone aldosterone z.B. responsible for regulating your blood pressure.

To keep its balance, the body reacts quite strongly to a change in the intake of salt.

If we eat more salt than usual, the body binds more water for a short time in the first step – the pointer on the scale rises.

To fix this as quickly as possible, we need to drink more water – not less! This flushes out the "excess salt" more quickly.

2. Have you eaten a lot in terms of volume/weight??

What is often forgotten is the dead weight of food. Especially in a healthy diet with lots of vegetables (rich in fiber and fluids) can add up to quite a bit of weight in a day. Especially if a large amount is eaten in the evening, it is definitely not completely digested the next morning.

3. Where are you in your cycle?

The water balance of the female body in particular is very much influenced by the current hormone status.

The strongest upward fluctuations start 5-7 days before your period and usually end 3-4 days after. How much fluctuation is very individual.

Also the fundamental change of hormones, for example by the pill can lead to permanently increased water retention and fluctuations.

4. More carbohydrates than usual?

Our muscle cells use carbohydrates in a certain form (glycogen) to store energy. The peculiarity: each gram of glycogen binds 2 grams of water – in total 3 grams.

This can lead to the scenario that we have eaten rather less carbohydrates during the week and have also done some exercise. The glycogen in our muscles has been successively used up and not completely replenished. Thus we have lost the weight of glycogen and bound water.

Now we have a small or larger "re-feed" at the weekend where we eat mainly carbohydrates – our body gratefully refills the stores and binds the water to it. Weight may jump up.

5. Have you had a hard training session?

Even if training is good for us and we experience a positive adaptation of the body due to the "stimulus" – training is physiological stress.

When we exercise, we damage muscle cells and waste products are produced. The cells then have to be built up again more strongly or increasingly and the "waste" has to be disposed of.

For this the tissue and the cells need water, which can be stored there for a short time.

Long-term overtraining also causes water to be stored in the body and can make you look flabby and bloated. Why this is so, you can read in the next paragraph.

6. Are you permanently stressed?

The negatively titled "stress hormone" cortisol is the hormone that helps us get out of bed in the morning. In addition, increased cortisol levels make us briefly focused and 100% ready to perform.

In the short term a blessing, in the long term unfortunately harmful for our body.

And the stress hormone does not help us with water retention either.
Thus, when cortisol levels are high, the kidneys excrete less water.

Unfavorably, sodium is also retained by the kidneys and the antagonist potassium is excreted – this increases the ratio in favor of sodium and the water is retained.

A long-term increase can lead to storage in the tissues and fluctuations on the scale.

What you can do concretely and immediately against stress? In this blog article you find out!


Of course, to get a more accurate estimate of weight, the basics must be right:

  • Measure at similar times
  • Under the same circumstances (without clothes, after the morning toilet, before breakfast, etc.), the weight of glycogen and water is the same.)
  • on the same scale

How often to weigh?

Depending on how well you can handle fluctuations psychologically.

Contrary to the intro, I rarely get upset about fluctuations, but deal with them "with interest" – see Conclusion. For me, daily weighing therefore makes sense.

Decisive for my goals is nevertheless the long-term trend – together with comparison photos and measurements with the Kalipper and tape measure.

If you have a hard time dealing with fluctuations, I would recommend weighing yourself every 14 days. But above all **then** you should be aware of the influencing factors! Because a potential disaster should not be pre-programmed – by expecting a realistic measurement the day after a hefty workout followed by a salty carbohydrate refuel the next day. So preferably always under the same conditions and for women on the same day in the cycle.

Conclusion – Don’t Panic – Observe and Learn

As should be well known, the scale is not the best reference point to track progress on the body composition issue. It can still be a useful component.

But much more valuable for me are short term changes on the scale as a chance to learn how my body reacts to different influencing factors.

Was the training perhaps too hard?

Am I currently stressed, too much caffeine the day before?

Did I let my glycogen stores overflow during the refeed??

Goes something in the long term health in the wrong direction?

And as mentioned earlier, it’s the long-term trend and body composition – the ratio of muscle to fat – that count.

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