Why Does My Weight Fluctuate So Much? Nutritionists Explain

There are many factors that can affect your weight, including your body composition and even what you eat on any given day. But if you've been watching your scale and noticing a lot of changes, it's understandable to wonder, “Why is my weight fluctuating so much?”

It's important to address this up front: Some weight fluctuations are normal for everyone. Still, if you notice your weight fluctuates wildly, you may have some questions about what's going on. According to nutritionists, here's the deal.

Why does weight usually fluctuate?

Again, some weight fluctuations are normal. “Things in your body are constantly going in and out of balance,” says Scott Keatley, developer of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy. Your weight has likely fluctuated to some degree throughout your life—and if you're not tracking it closely, you probably won't. Will take note of it.

Your weight can change from day to day, “primarily due to hydration status and colonic contents,” says Sonia Angelon, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “So, weight fluctuates with the amount of food you eat and the amount of food in your colon, depending on how often you have bowel movements, how much you urinate, how much salt or sodium is in your diet — water follows sodium more sodium The more, the more water you're holding on to—and how hydrated or dehydrated you are.”

Bloating can make you gain weight, and sweating too much with exercise can make you lose weight, says nutritionist and author Keri Gans, RD Make small changes to your diet. “Medications can also cause weight gain or loss,” she adds.

How much weight fluctuation is normal?

it depends. Gans says it's important to remember that weight fluctuations are “completely normal,” with some people experiencing two-pound fluctuations, while others can experience up to an eight-pound difference.

“Women have been known to gain 5 pounds during their period,” says Vanessa Rissetto, RD, CEO and co-founder of Culina Health. And, if you eat more sodium from one day to the next, you're also likely to see a bigger change. “Sodium can also have an adverse effect on the number on the scale,” because it often promotes water retention, Rissetto says.

“Even the amount of carbohydrates can cause weight fluctuations,” Angelone said. “Each gram of glycogen, or stored carbohydrate, in your muscles holds three times its weight in water. For example, if you eat a low-carb diet and then eat a pasta dinner, you'll gain weight because your muscles You get more glycogen from your carb-rich dinner and you stay hydrated.” That's part of why people lose around 5 pounds when they switch to a low-carb diet, she says.

In general, most people can expect weight fluctuations of up to 2 percent of their body weight if they're not sweating excessively or making any drastic dietary changes, Keatley said.

When should you be concerned about weight fluctuations?

If your weight keeps fluctuating outside the 2 percent range, it's worth paying attention, Keatley says. Conditions such as kidney disease or heart disease can cause fluid buildup in the body, which can lead to weight gain, and a large amount of weight gain in a short period of time can signal a more serious problem, he said. Conditions such as hypothyroidism can also cause weight to fluctuate fairly quickly, Angelone says.

“If your weight changes by more than a few pounds in a short period of time, and you haven't changed your diet or exercise habits, see your doctor or other health care professional to rule out any medical problems,” says Angelone.

What to do if your weight fluctuates greatly

If you notice that your weight seems to be fluctuating, you don't need to panic, but experts say it's definitely something worth investigating. “Large fluctuations in weight should indicate that you need to consider the amount of salt or sodium in your diet,” Angelone says. “You should also make sure you have regular bowel movements. For many people, that means once or twice a day.”

You may also want to consider when you were weighed (for example, after you eat several meals and drink a lot of fluids, you gain weight later in the day), your exercise routine on any given day, and her Say, what's your moisture level.

However, if your weight has changed significantly and you're not sure what's going on, it's time to seek professional care to be on the safe side. “If you notice drastic changes that don't seem to add up, definitely see a doctor,” Rissetto says.

Headshot by Korin Miller

Korin Miller is a freelance writer specializing in general health, sexual health and relationships, and lifestyle trends whose work has appeared in Men's Health, Women's Health, Self, Glamour, among other magazines. She has a master's degree from American University, lives by the sea, and hopes to one day own a teacup pig and taco truck.

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