weight-loss-850601_640(1)How Can I Be 5 Pounds Heavier?

If you’ve ever stepped on the scale in the afternoon and been shocked to see you’re heavier than you were in the morning, don’t worry, it’s totally normal. In fact, your weight can fluctuate as much as 5 pounds during the course of the day. How can that be? Well, Katherine Zeratsky, a nutritionist at the Mayo Clinic says there are some perfectly legitimate reasons for it.

1 Salt

If you eat too much salt your body retains water and that can cause a temporary increase in weight. The reason salt causes your body to retain water is that sodium is an important factor in regulating water in your cells and also aids in nerve communication and muscle function.[1]

2 Carbohydrates

Too many undigested carbs can also have you tipping the scale toward the high side. Why? Well carbs hold water, they need to hold water in order to be stored away in your body for reserve energy. How much water do carbohydrates store? For each gram of carbohydrate, your body needs to hold onto 3 grams of water![2] The bottom line is if you’re eating carbohydrates through out the day, expect temporary weight gain.

3 Ladies Only

Another factor that can cause temporary weight gain has to do with where you are in your menstrual cycle.

How Should You Interpret What The Scale Says?

These variables and more could really drive you crazy if you’re focused on losing weight and working to make progress toward your goals.

In his article “What the Number on the Scale Really Means: A Primer on Weight Fluctuations” Dick Talens reminds you that:

“Fortunately the scale reading is only a number. Like all pieces of data, this number may or may not be an accurate reflection of whether or not you are losing fat.” curated from http://greatist.com/health/understanding-scale-bloat-and-weight-loss

scaleAdditionally, if you are dieting it’s recommended to weigh yourself once a week. Check in on the same day of the week, and at the same time of day. It’s also a good idea to wear (or not wear) the same type of clothing when you check your weight. Weighing in once a week can give you a more consistent reference point and a better comparison. It can also help keep you from obsessing over every little discrepancy in your weight throughout the course of the day and / or week.

For more on why your weight fluctuates and a better understanding of how to interpret what the scale is really telling you check out “What the Number on the Scale Really Means: A Primer on Weight Fluctuations”


  1. High Sodium & Water Retention. (n.d.). Retrieved July 25, 2016, from http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/high-sodium-water-retention-7494.html
  2. http://citygirlbites.com/blog/archives/9209