11 Reasons Why The Scale Says You Gained Weight Overnight

You step on the scale one morning and you’re totally on track. The next morning, you’re up five pounds. WTF. Is overnight weight gain a thing?

It’s a frustrating and bewildering experience that happens to the best of us. And we’re here to tell you that you didn’t actually gain five pounds of fat in a single day. After all, gaining a single pound of fat requires consuming about 3,500 calories more than you can burn off. So to gain five pounds in a day, you’d have to eat nearly 20,000 calories in just 24 hours.

But gaining five pounds of water weight in a day? That’s easy, says Georgie Fear, RD, CSSD, author of Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss. “It’s important to know that your weight will fluctuate on a daily basis, but it doesn’t mean that your weight-loss strategy is failing.”

So if you step on the scale and find that you’ve magically gained a few pounds, consider these 11 factors that can screw with the scale number.

You Hit The Gym Hard

“After a heavy workout, especially if you perform big, compound movements that recruit a lot of large muscles, you can easily weigh a few extra pounds for several days,” Fear says.

Those microscopic tears that occur in your muscle cells after every workout heal through a process of natural inflammation. That involves some pooling of fluids around the muscle cells, which can make you puff up, she says. This does not mean you should skip those calorie-torching strength moves. Just let your muscles recover and forget about the scale.

You Consumed A Lot Of Salt

Regardless of whether the chips are baked or fried, “excess sodium intake leads to immediate water weight gain,” says Julie Ellner, MD, a San Diego-based weight-loss specialist. That can lead to swollen ankles and a belly bulge from swelling in your intestines, she says.

Apart from the water retention, munching on salty snacks can cause constipation, too.

You’ve Started A High-Protein, Low-Carb Diet

Fiber is critical to keeping your digestive system working its best. So when you miss out on fiber from whole grains, fruit, and starchy vegetables, you’re bound to get backed up, says Dr. Ellner.

“If you don’t go for several days, that internal traffic jam can translate to a couple pounds of retained matter,” adds Fear.

While Dr. Ellner recommends that anyone on a high-protein, low-carb diet take a fiber supplement to keep things moving, an even better option is to only reduce refined carbohydrates, like pasta, and keep whole grains, veggies, and fruit as part of your diet.

You’re Dehydrated

When you’re dehydrated, you usually weigh less because your muscles and tissues are sucked dry (making you feel miserable). But that lack of H2O throws your kidneys into “let’s conserve fluids” mode, says Fear. That leads to an increase in water weight once you start sipping, she adds.

But don’t worry, after a few days of hydrating properly your kidneys will get back to normal, along with your weight.

You Might Have A Food Intolerance

An intolerance to foods like dairy, fructose, eggs, shellfish, gluten, artificial sweeteners, soy, and many others can cause bloating and water , especially in your gut, says Dr. Ellner.

If you notice that you feel heavier or actually weigh more after eating certain foods, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian before eliminating them.

You’re About To Get Your

All PMS-fueled binging aside, you can thank your hormones for pre-period pounds, says Dr. Ellner. You’ll start to gain water weight about five days before your cycle starts.

But everyone can be a bit different. “Some of my clients tell me they’re the heaviest on the first day of their ” The good news is that water is short-lived, adds Fear.

Melody Covington, MD, a weight-loss doctor at Abundant Health and Vitality, adds that women tend to gain weight more easily than men, since women need a higher fat mass than men in order to support normal hormone regulation and conceive. “Our chief female hormone estrogen is derived from body fat, that is why we see visible fat deposits on female bodies such as breasts, hips, and butts, and even triceps are a common fat storage area for women,” she says. “That means it’s easier for women to see fluctuations on the scale with even small variations in diet and exercise.”

water is likely to go away in a few days, but if you suspect something more is going on, consult your doctor.

You Started Eating Pasta Again

When you cut back on your carb intake, your body’s glycogen stores–its prime energy source for high-intensity exercise– become depleted. But as soon as you dive into some spaghetti, your body starts storing glycogen in your muscles and liver, along with H2O. The sudden influx of those two nutrients after a long stretch of being carb-free could leave you bloated, Fear says.

The best : Include a moderate amount of whole-grain carbs in your diet daily to prevent the cycle of on and off.

You Started New

like antihistamines, insulin, and some antidepressants cause rapid weight gain for a bunch of reasons. Some can either cause your body to retain water, activate or increase your appetite, or even reduce your metabolism and increase fat storage, says Dr. Covington, who adds that weight gain is even more likely on that limits your ability to exercise or stay active.

If a medication is causing weight gain, Dr. Covington recommends talking to your doctor and asking about alternatives or the possibility of reducing your dose. You can also work on making lifestyle changes that will promote weight loss, a healthy diet, or time for exercise.

If your doctor thinks it’s appropriate, in some cases they may you to a bariatrician who specializes in the treatment and of obesity-related diseases.

You Ate Your Last Meal Later Than Normal

The closer to bed, the less likely your body will use that food up as fuel, since you aren’t really up to much besides maybe dreaming while you’re sleeping. “Food eaten at night is more often stored as fat because we tend to be less active, so we increase fat storage at that time, especially depending on of the food you ate later in the evening,” says Dr. Covington. Carbs, specifically, if not burned, are then stored as fat, she adds.

this type of weight gain, Dr. Covington eating on a regular schedule. “The body does best with routine and consistent structure,” says Dr. Covington. “The body and especially the scale will respond best if the timing is consistent.”

You’re On A Diet That’s Too Restrictive

If you drop too much weight or fat too fast or in a way that your body registers that something is wrong, it will try to store the fat that’s available more aggressively.

“This is a survival response ingrained in our The brain does not understand ‘dieting’ but it understands fat loss very well and often if we diet incorrectly the brain interprets this as something unhealthy happening,” says Dr. Covington. Storing fat is the body’s attempt to keep us safe, she adds.

To avoid this, she recommends enlisting an expert that will help you create a healthy diet or assist you with your weight-loss goals, whether it’s a fitness trainer, dietitian, weight loss doctor, or accountability partner.

One easy place to start in terms of accountability is using a food-tracking app, adds Dr. Covington. “Studies show that patients who track in food diaries lose more weight and do better with weight maintenance. The drawbacks are doing it correctly–choosing the correct foods, logging proper serving sizes, and being honest about the food intake even when it’s not ideal.”

You’re Pregnant

If you’re experiencing rapid weight gain especially while on a diet, you could be expecting, says Dr. Covington. “When I see rapid gain in someone with a solid weight management plan, we need to do a pregnancy test. There have been many surprises.”

Dr. Covington says that overweight women can become more fertile with weight loss, so if you’ve recently shed a few pounds you’re more likely to become pregnant if you aren’t using a contraceptive. Take a pregnancy test just to be sure!

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