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Are weight fluctuations normal, or should I be worried?

 

The ups and downs of weight fluctuations

Do you weigh yourself every day? Can’t figure out where that extra kilo came from? Did you know that the number on the scale fluctuates every day for everyone…but the questions is, what is normal and what is irregular?

Well, on average, weight fluctuations can be between 1.0-2.5kg on any given day. If you always drink, eat, exercise and weigh yourself at the same time everyday then your weight may be relatively stable when you hop on the scale. However, for most of us this is not reality.
Let’s dive into where those extra kilos might have come from!

 

Top 5 factors effecting weight changes

 
1. Carbohydrates and sodium

Carbohydrates and sodium intake can cause transient changes in weight due to their effect on fluid balance. Carbohydrates provide the body with its preferred fuel source for exercise, thinking or anything else that requires movement.  However, if your carbohydrate intake exceeds what your body uses for energy- it will store this in muscles, liver, and tissues. For every 1g of carbohydrate that your body stores- it also retains 2 to 3 times that weight in water.

E.g. If you eat a doughnut, it has about 20g of carbohydrates. So, your body will retain around 40-60g of water weight to store that doughnut. Over the day this adds up, leading to more and more water retention.

Sodium is one of the body’s key minerals responsible for fluid balance. Think of it like this ‘where salt goes, water follows’. Therefore, not enough sodium = not enough fluid in your body and this can cause dehydration, thus reducing weight on the scale. Whereas excessive amounts of sodium can pull too much water into your blood vessels = fluid retention, bloating, increased weight and increased blood pressure as the body struggles to regulate fluids.

So, where does our salt come from? Sodium can hide in a lot of foods that you may not suspect. In fact, around 75% of the sodium intake for a typical Australian adult comes from processed foods where the sodium is already added to the product. The main source of sodium in the western diet is bread, with some bread reaching 250mg a slice (Close to 13% of your upper daily limit for sodium! (2)).

QUICK TIPS:

  • Reduce processed, packaged foods as these typically are high in processed carbohydrates AND sodium. E.g. bread, pastries, fast foods, sauces and salad dressings
  • Read the label- when buying packaged foods/drinks aim for <400mg sodium per 100g (and <120mg for people with hypertension)
  • If you’re struggling with water retention, book a consult with one of our expert health practitioners at Health Squared, or speak to your GP.
 
2. Hormones

Cortisol, the stress hormone, is highest when you first open your eyes in the morning, after workouts and during times of mental stress. Excess cortisol increases inflammation and can cause fluid retention, gut issues and increased hunger. So, chronically high levels of stress can lead to increased fluid retention and increased kJ intake and therefore increase body weight.

Also, females tend to have more frequent and higher fluctuations in weight due to fluid retention from hormonal changes (predominantly of oestrogen and progesterone) during the menstrual cycle. Greater hormonal imbalances therefore result in more severe fluid retention (1). Most women will be at their highest weight on the first day of menstrual flow and lowest mid-follicular phase.

Chronic stress, dysfunctional cortisol levels and imbalances in oestrogen and progesterone can be addressed with effective lifestyle and supplemental support.

QUICK TIPS:

  • Herbs of Gold Stress Ease is an adrenal supportive formula designed to help the body adapt to stress
  • Herbs of Gold Activated B Complex. Activated B’s are shown to help increase energy levels, boost memory and focus, and support healthy stress responses
  • Go for a walk – even 10 minutes of walking is shown to increase feel-good hormones, reduces stress and increase gut microbiome diversity
  • For female hormone balance- increase cruciferous vegetables which are rich in diindolylmethane (DIM), a compound that helps support healthy levels of oestrogen. E.g. broccoli, broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy, Brussel sprouts, cabbage and kale
  • Book a consult with one of our Health Squared practitioners for more in depth and expert support
 
3. Weight of Food and Drink

Not surprisingly, putting things into your body increases your weight! Who would have thought, right? Food and drink supply the body with essential calories, vitamins and minerals. Specifically, calorie intake is what influences long term weight gain, loss or maintenance of weight.

Put it this way, 1 litre of water is 1kg, if you drink that amount within a short period of time you have gained that 1kg!

QUICK TIPS:

  • Keep in mind that, if you ate a big meal late the night before and have not been to the toilet yet, then your dinner might not be fully digested and will lead to a higher number on the scale
  • If you are going to weigh yourself regularly, do so after passing a stool first thing in the morning for a more accurate result
 
4. Day of the Week

It’s no mystery that our eating habits change throughout the week. We try to start the week off with healthy intentions, but as the grind of the week wears down our motivation we slowly move towards happy hour and take-out over the weekend. Research has shown that this eating cycle is shared amongst a great amount of the population (3). The studies show that fluctuations in weight are highest between Saturday and Tuesday and decreases throughout the week. This cycle is accredited to normal fluctuations and not attributed to true weight gain

 
5. Bowel Movements

Just as food goes in, it must come out. If “movement” is a bit slow then it may be adding weight to the scales. If this is the case, fibre  can help move excess waste more effectively through the digestive system where it can be excreted.
If you’re finding that movement is a bit slow then either increasing fibrous foods or supplementing  with fibre can help with regulating bowel motions. The goal is 25-30grams of fibre per day for a healthy adult. It’s important to note that you should increase hydration whenever you increase your fibre intake.

QUICK TIPS:

  • Increase your vegetable intake. Aim ½ of your lunch and dinner meal consisting of non-starchy veggies. E.g. add a side salad, add grated vegetables to the pasta, or curry dish, or add roasted vegetables
  • Qenda Ultimate Fibre powder: 1 serve = 49% daily recommended fibre intake for regular bowel motions! 

 

The bottom line

Seeing a constant fluctuation in weight can be frustrating, disheartening and can lead to a negative mindset around weight and health in general. If you find this is you, then consider doing an average weekly weight (not daily) and incorporating other health measurements  such as: your energy levels, waist measurements, strength, PMS symptoms and blood test results. This should give you a much better view of where you stand  and to see if what you’re doing is working!

If you have any more questions please come in and see us at Health Squared Garden City, Indooroopilly or Toowong!

 

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References:

(1)White, C. P., Hitchcock, C. L., Vigna, Y. M., & Prior, J. C. (2011). Fluid retention over the menstrual cycle: 1-year data from the prospective ovulation cohort. Obstetrics and gynecology international, 2011.
(2)https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/sodium

(3)Orsama, A. L., Mattila, E., Ermes, M., van Gils, M., Wansink, B., & Korhonen, I. (2014). Weight rhythms: weight increases during weekends and decreases during weekdays. Obesity facts, 7(1), 36-47

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