Why Does My Weight Fluctuate So Much?

For many people, walking into their bathroom and stepping on to the scale can trigger a bit of anxiety. Some may have rituals around the whole thing, like emptying their bladder and weighing themselves before having breakfast, all to make sure that the number they see between their feet is (hopefully) lower than the last time they checked in on their body weight.

Though some may have a strict regimen of diet and exercise that makes it possible for them to reach their fitness goals and influence their body weight accordingly, for too many people the number on the scale can frustrate. This can be due to stubborn weight or unwanted weight gain.


This fluctuation in weight can be detrimental to keeping a healthy lifestyle when one attempts to lose weight and winds up gaining some instead. This can be followed by panic as thoughts of lost muscle, retained water or accumulated fat follow the swinging numbers on the scale.

The reasons for weight fluctuation are many, and apply for different reasons for different people. Here’s some insights as to what’s actually going on:

Sleep And Hormones

It’s not uncommon for one to get wrapped up in their personal and professional lives and have their physical health take the toll in the process.

With hours never seeming to be in ample supply anyway, many people skimp on sleep in order to meet all the obligations set for them on a daily basis. The result of this line of thinking are jumping numbers on the scale.

In order to maintain hormonal regularity during sleep, most need approximately seven hours of sleep a night. The key hormones at play during this time of night are ghrelin and leptin, which help the body understand when it is hungry and when it has eaten enough respectively.

Sleep deprivation, which for most is calculated to be about five hours a night or less, can result in increased ghrelin production and a reduction in the leptin hormone.

The result of this is unconscious eating that leaves one hungrier than they should be and little in the way of being able to tell when they are full.

Either hormone is essential in a metabolism that functions properly, helping to keep weight consistent with proper eating patterns.

By limiting the hours one sleeps in order to get more done, the greater their chances of overeating the following day and the longer the time will be before hormones are once again balanced and nutrition can be allocated correctly.

Bowel Regularity

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Digestive health is a concern that typically attracts people’s attention later on in life, but the ability to have regular bowel movements can impact one’s weight dramatically. The reason why this isn’t a concern earlier on in life is tied to the appearance of regular bowel movements and inconsistent complications such as indigestion and constipation.

However, many could be suffering from inconsistent bowel movements that not only leave one feeling backed up, but that retained waste can add on pounds when stepping on to the scale.

Constipation can come from changes to one’s diet, a significant decrease in physical activity, pregnancy or the introduction of new medication. Exploring these changes to one’s daily life can locate the complication with bowel health and find a way back to regularity, leading to a more accurate reading of one’s actual body weight.

Sodium Intake

One dietary shift that often goes unnoticed by many is the shift in sodium a person intakes on a regular basis. For those who stick to a sensible diet of meats, vegetables, fruits, and small servings of carbohydrates, they will notice that their sodium levels are consistent and conducive to their overall health.

But even the most disciplined dieter may experience a lapse in proper eating habits, whether they’re taking part in a celebration or momentarily makes a bad decision.

If when breaking a diet one were to consume a large meal high in sodium, such as an entire pizza or several pieces of deep-fried meat, one may find that their weight increases for several days after the fact. Sometimes longer. The reason for this is the amount of sodium consumed and the water the body retains as a result.

Increased consumption of sodium leads to increase production and activity of aldosterone, a hormone that promotes water retention. A shift in diet back towards sensibility, can lead to lower sodium levels in the body and an uninterrupted urinary tract. To know one’s true body weight, low levels of aldosterone production are ideal.

The Booze Factor

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For most, it would be inconceivable to think of a diet that completely eliminates alcohol. For a period of time (the shorter the better) one can manage, but eventually life will find a way to reintroduce alcohol back into people’s diets with some regularity.

Which is fine, since there are selections of certain alcoholic beverages that are low in calories and sugar one can make, and moderation and keep from adversely affecting their fitness goals. But many may lose count of every drink, and that’s where complications occur.

One immediate effect of consistent alcohol imbibing is dehydration. Unlike other liquids, alcohol actually forces the body to expel more fluid that it introduces into the body. To combat this, most attempt to drink water and rehydrate, but in a state of rehydration continues to expel more liquids than taken in.

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This can make the scale unreliable from day to day if drinking alcohol is a regular activity as the body struggles to remain hydrated.

Another weight related consequence that comes from drinking is the response from the liver. Cirrhosis of the liver is one of the many diseases the liver can contract from advanced alcohol drinking. And while it may lead to death in advanced stages, its earliest forms can cause an imbalance of electrolytes can lead to an increased fluid levels in cells, and is rather common in all liver diseases.

Diuretics are normally turned to in instances such as this to normalize the body’s relationship to fluids. But if one suspects that drinking habits have caused an irregularity in liver function, seeking medical help is always the best method of action.

Training Oversights

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For many concerned about the accuracy of their bathroom scales in the mornings, training for a specific sport or even may be a regular concern given certain times of the year.

While this means particular training systems a programs that require precise organization of time in order to meet the optimum condition for competing, diet is arguably the primary concern people have considering their chances for success in their given sport.

To help manage the increase output of energy needed to withstand the increased workout time and days, many athletes, professional and aspiring, will turn to carbohydrates to help fuel them throughout the training season.

Similarly, the common individual may look to cutting their intake of carbohydrates (sometimes dramatically) in an effort to meet their ideal body weight for a particular date in mind or time of year in mind.

While the increase or reduction of carbohydrate consumption can influence one’s weight in either direction, taking these practices in the extreme can have unexpected results for the body in several areas regarding their weight.

One overlooked result of manipulating carbohydrate intake is the effect it has on glycogen stores, affecting blood cells, the function of vital organs like kidneys and the brain, as well as the function of all carbohydrates.

For each gram of carbohydrates stored in the body, an approximate two to four times that amount is retained in water in the body. This is one of the main reasons why increased carbohydrate consumption, whether simple or complex, can lead to increased weight, and fewer amounts consumed leads to lower weight.

While this may be difficult for many to accept, since a staple of dieting is decreasing one’s overall food intake to positively influence weight, and increased carbohydrate intake is needed in order to fuel long workouts, the changing relationship a body has with carbohydrates can result in confused communication.

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In other words, the dieter that miscalculates carbohydrate intake one day may notice their weight increase by several pounds one day to the next now that their body is retaining new levels of water.

And for those training, this can result in a halt in weight changes in either direction due to increased carbohydrate consumption.

Regardless of weight goals, if carbohydrate consumption has changed, one must not only have a plan with reasonable expectations moving forward, but also patience to understand that the desired effect from tried and true methods manifest with time and consistency.


The scale is an invaluable tool for anyone who wants to have an approximate level of their health and overall wellness, as being over or underweight propose health complications one would rather avoid.

However, daily numbers on that scale lend themselves to irregularities for reasons many may not be conscious of. In some cases they may be things beyond their control such as serious health conditions that require the attention of medical professionals.

For those who are of relatively sound health and notice some imbalance to their daily lives, which will be most of those reading, daily weigh-ins can be a little less frustrating after taking an honest evaluation of one’s dietary habits, activity levels, and patterns of rest.

And this realization is made more concrete when one realizes long-term health goals are of greater importance and more attainable than keeping the scale as a daily focal point.

Luke Cafferty

Luke Cafferty is a fitness junkie, personal trainer and blogger. He's passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a strong and well rounded physique, while inspiring you to do the same.

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