Why didn't the scale go down this week on your diet?
Updated: Feb 28
So you're reading this and you might have been following the diet for one week, two weeks, three weeks, or four weeks. You've been diligently following the plan. You've been doing exactly what you need to do. You've even been going to bed early. All of those good things will help to make you look, feel and be more healthy overall one thing though, even though you've made all this effort, the scales have gone up instead of down. Let's discuss this.
First and foremost, let's look at why you might be really disappointed. One of the main reasons people get disappointed is because they've put in so much effort into changing their life. That's not an easy feat. So congratulations on making this big change, because it's not an easy process. If you want more tips on how to make exercise a habit, check this link. Sometimes we see a big drop in the first week and we see a drop in the second week or, maybe just the first week, and then all of a sudden the scales go up. But there are many reasons why we're upset about this change. Because we think that the amount of effort that we put in should be equal to the number of results we see. Therefore, if there's more effort, we expect there to be more results. On top of that, a lot of the things that we're doing besides making a half-healthy lifestyle change aren't really your first choice. So we expect to be rewarded accordingly for making difficult decisions. The problem with this is and this mindset is that we're really trying to focus on things that are outside of our control. There are many reasons why the scale might not change and these reasons have nothing to do with how much effort you've put in. These are factors that are outside of your control. So let's discuss the multitude of reasons that the scales might have gone up this week.
Hormone fluctuations. Hormones are one of our best friends. It gives us the ability to be able to reproduce. It gives us our lovely shape. It gives us our skin tone and complexion and helps keep us healthy. At the same time, fluctuations in our hormones, due to a number of reasons can actually cause the scale to look like it's gone up. But it's actually not true weight gain. So you can hold more water as a result of your hormones going up. It's very unlikely that in a week if you put on two kilos that could be two kilos of body fat. So keep that in mind as we go through these points. If ever you're already in the menopausal stage, I have a post that can help you with that.
Ironically, let's talk about food in your gut. So if you have a whole bunch of food in your gut, maybe you've started eating more fiber that fiber sitting in your gut, first of all, is going to be holding more water within it until we pass it out in the form of a number two and also it will be increasing the weight that's on the scales.
Another reason why you might have increased in weight this week is the time you ate your last meal. So if you usually eat your meal at 6 pm and then you usually weigh yourself the next morning at 9 am. Then the next week, if you eat your last meal at 11 pm and you've had to get up early at 7 am for a flight, all of a sudden you've lost extra time sleeping and on top of that you've actually had your meal closer to the time that you're weighing. So, therefore, there's less time for your body to digest the food and it's not an equal experiment. So as a result of this, make sure that you're weighing around the same time each day. And on top of that, be mindful of these little changes that you might have made.
The number of carbohydrates that you have. So if you add more carbohydrates the day before, your body will hold more water. So for every gram of carbohydrate, your body holds an extra three grams of water with that. Now, that doesn't mean we stop eating carbohydrates. In fact, the opposite is true. We need carbohydrates for healthy hormone function. But remember, for every extra one gram of carbohydrate your body is actually four grams heavier, which means that we can easily put on a little bit of weight for the small number of extra carbohydrates that we have for the day. Before we get on to the fifth point, can we also make sure that you are doing everything in your power to make sure that you're not falling into the trap of being really focused on scales? Scales do not tell us a whole bunch. It doesn't tell us about body composition, which is the amount of muscle and fat that we have and we should be happier with having more muscle that is more metabolically active and can predetermine how healthy we are as in our ability to be able to fight illness. On top of that, our ability to not get injured and our ability to maintain or reduce body fat is increased if we've got more muscle. But if you get on the scales, the scales will not be able to tell you how much muscle you have compared to fat. I think most people would prefer it if they're putting on their favorite dress and it's looser and the scales don't tell you what weight you need to be to get into that. So if your body composition changed and you were to have a bit more muscle you might be heavier, but you also will probably be a whole lot leaner, which means that with muscle taking up less room than fat, you'll actually be able to fit into your dress but you'll be heavier and you need to think about which one you're happier with.
The fifth point, you had a bit more salt the day before. So it's not such a bad thing and it's actually quite essential for our bodies. It's the amount of salt that we have that can change the amount of water that we're holding for the day. Now unless you've been told by a GP or you have high blood pressure, you don't usually have to heavily monitor the amount of salt that you're putting into your food. But we still want to make sure that we don't have big fluctuations from day to day as well. So having the same amount of salt from day to day. Salt causes the body to pull more water in due to osmosis and therefore, we hold more water in the body but we haven't put on fat. This isn't a bad thing. The extra weight will disappear when we have slightly less salt the next day.
The sixth point, then picking a new exercise or doing a new exercise regime. So whenever you do a completely new exercise regime, you're giving your body a completely new stimulus to work with, which is great because it's going to be adding more results if you've been on the same program for a little while. Check out our other blog post on progressive overload. If you want to see how often you should be changing your program because it's different than what you think it might be. When you create these extra micro tears from doing completely different exercises, there may be soreness when you do a completely new exercise, but also there's going to be inflammation in a different way in the body because the body is not used to this new stimulus. Therefore the extra inflammation in the body is going to cause more water to be drawn in that extra water that is drawn in will make you heavier on the scales.
You haven't been eating a specific, consistent diet. I don't mean to point fingers here. It may be that your diet is one where you're supposed to carb cycle for instance, or where you have a day where you're eating more carbs than another day. If you're following the plan, that's great. But if you end up having a day where you potentially (like on the five two diets) where you've got a fasting day and you weigh yourself the next day, compared to the next week if it falls on another day and you're actually weighing yourself the day after you've had more meals for the day. Well, more meals for the day and more food in your gut will mean that you look heavier on the scales, but again, it doesn't mean that you've put on extra fat. So be mindful of if you've got plans where you may be fasting on a particular day or if you have a greater volume of food on a particular day and that sort of thing. You will actually be heavier and that even includes when you're having a bigger volume of food. It's less calorific and dense. So we have like a whole bunch of cucumbers, lots of volumes, and your food then all of a sudden you'll be a little bit heavier. Just because of the extra food that you add, not because you've got heavier on the scales. More volume of food does not cause you to put on more weight unless that food has more calories. A really great way to help set your mind at ease provided that you are in a calorie deficit and you have looked at all of the other factors or you're following the advice of a coach. You might want to ensure that you understand that there are fluctuations in your weight across a week. Here's another post on the ultimate guide to eating healthy.
But overall, there's not a linear trend, as in, each week, it doesn't incrementally go down to the same extent. There will be some weeks that you jump up a little bit higher than the week before but overall the trend over weeks and months should be at a downward angle, and that's what you're looking for. You can't panic every single time you've increased on the scales, because all of these factors that are outside of your control are going to increase the amount of weight on the scales, and yet it won't mean that you've increased body fat. Most people, when they see an increase on the scales they go on, they say “what's the point?'' and then all of a sudden they start binging on food.
Then they get into this kind of vicious cycle where now they're getting on the scales and it's heavier, of course, and then they get upset and then they eat more. Then they're like, that didn't work for me when really it was just their resilience being tested towards the things they can control.
To make a fair experiment, you need more than your weight to measure, and you need to be following a plan. That way you can show that potentially something might need to be changed, but nobody knows what they can change if you have changed what you're doing without telling your coach. One more thing, there’s a useful tool if you are somebody who gets very confused with how the scales are working. If you're able to weigh every day, put the measurements into a free app like MYweight and see how the downward trend is over time because you'll see it goes up and down up and down up and down. But overall it should be trending downwards. So weighing in every day helps people with that because then they can record and they can see how potentially most of the week was trending down. Then the one day that they measured, the scale had gone up by two kilos. So if you were only tracking that one day of the week, you might get a false picture.
Moving forward, the best thing to do is to make sure that you're focused on the things that you can control that really matter, which is following the plan of someone that you trust and being accountable, and sandboarding the ideas off your coach if you're in doubt because our mind plays tricks on us all the time. And your coach knows what's best for you. Side note: Do not become that person that tries to fix it themselves by deleting some of the foods of the program. The goal is not to eat as little as possible. The goal is to eat as much as possible whilst still maintaining your goals, like maintaining your weight or losing weight. Eating as much as possible to facilitate those goals is going to pay off in the long term because if you are on a weight loss diet, and you start to plateau (3-4 weeks with all measurements the same) you'll have calories in your toolkit to target.
Anyway, I hope these ideas helped you.
If you have any concerns or if you want to chat further about this sort of thing, just reach out to us. We're always happy to hear from you.