Does that bathroom scale ruin your day?

Does that bathroom scale ruin your day?

Q. I recently bought a really good scale and I weigh myself every morning. Some days, when I think I should have lost weight, the scale says I gained two pounds and that ruins my mood….

A. The scale reports not just changes in body fat, but also changes in body water and intestinal content. Hence, your weight can fluctuate one or two pounds daily. Many factors affect weight. These include:

— Are you constipated? Or do you have diarrhea?

— Are you experiencing pre-menstrual bloat?

–Did you eat a salty Chinese meal the night before?

–Are dehydrated from hard workouts?

–Did you overeat carbohydrates?

Your muscles store carbohydrates (fruits, veggies, grains, sugars, and starches) as glycogen. You rely on glycogen to fuel hard exercise Your body stores about about three ounces of water along with every ounce of carbohydrate. Hence, you might notice you “gained weight” the morning after a big pasta dinner, but that’s water-weight that gets released during your next exercise bout.

You should not expect your body to consistently weigh, let’s say, 120 pounds — but rather, vary within a range between 118 and 122 pounds, depending on the kinds of food you eat. Water weight quickly comes and goes. It is not permanent. You should not let this normal fluctuation depress your mood for the day.

Rather than weigh yourself every morning, I suggest you not weigh yourself (or if you must, then just once a week, like on a Wednesday). If you feel thinner, if your clothes are looser, and if people  comment that you look leaner, then you have lost body fat–despite the number on the scale.

Better yet, rather than start each day by weighing yourself, how about starting it by smiling at yourself in the mirror and appreciating your body for all the wonderful things it does to for you? That sounds more fruitful to me!


For more information on how to attain your desired body weight, refer to the weight management section in:

Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook

Written by Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD

Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD is an internationally respected sports nutritionist, weight coach, nutrition author, and workshop leader. She is a registered dietitian (RD) who is a board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD). She is also a certified WellCoach. Nancy specializes in nutrition for performance, life-long health, and the nutritional management of eating disorders. She counsels both casual exercisers and competitive athletes in her private practice in the Boston area (Newton, MA). Some of her clients consider her to be their food coach, others their food therapist. Regardless, she enjoys the challenge of helping sports-active people transform their suboptimal eating habits into effective fueling plans. Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, a best-selling resource, has sold over 550,000 copies and is now in it's new fifth edition.

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