Extreme weight fluctuations explained: 3 key reasons your weight goes up & down
Are the numbers on your scale constantly yoyoing? It’s more common than you think - here’s why it happens and how to prevent it.
From tiredness to stress, pregnancy to fluid retention, there are countless reasons why we put on weight. And when we see the pounds drop off, that too can be caused by a wide range of causes. But what about the yoyo effect? Why do some people watch their weight go up and down all the time?
Extreme weight fluctuation can have a huge effect on your self confidence - from elation when the numbers drop to despair as you see the scale needle go up. If you weigh yourself routinely, you’ll probably notice that the numbers change a lot - and it’s actually very common.
Why is my weight is going up and down?
Weight can be affected by many things. In just one day, it can fluctuate up to five pounds in difference. So if you’re weighing yourself in the morning and again in the evening, you could see a massive difference in the way the scale moves. Here are a few of them:
Two cups of water weight one pound, so it’s clear to see how dehydration or overhydration can lead to a higher figure on the scale. Around 50-60% of our body weight is water and how much we retain can change according to the foods we eat. Salty food can create a sponge-like effect in your cells, so you retain more water than usual. For every gram of carbohydrate your body stores, it also stores three grams of water. When you reduce your calories, you’ll see a dip in weight because your glycogen stores will release the water weight they’re hanging onto. Once you rehydrate, your weight will go back up slightly. But that doesn’t mean you’re getting fat, it’s just your body adapting to healthier habits.
Sometimes, weight gain has nothing to do with calories or exercise. From thyroid problems to insulin imbalances, there are plenty of weight-affecting culprits within the body. But sometimes it’s the less obvious hormones causing fluctuation on the scale. Higher levels of estrogen can make your weight shoot up by placing strain on the cells that produce insulin and manage blood sugar. Another culprit is leptin, otherwise known as the “fat hormone”. This handy hormone is released from your fat cells to tell your brain you’re full, but when we eat too much fructose (a type of sugar found in fruit and processed food), your body turns the sugar into fat and leptin levels increase. More leptin in the body means your brain will become resistant to the signal that you’re full.
From work life to relationship troubles, we’ve all experience stress at some time in our lives. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is the enemy when it comes to weight gain. When it rises, it encourages blood sugar to convert into fat for long-term storage and an increase in weight. This goes back to the caveman days, when our ancestors biological mechanisms enabled them to handle stressful famines of the time. Even if you don’t feel hugely stressed, you might be releasing more cortisol than you think - read our stress guide stress guide for more tips and relaxation techniques.