Extreme weight fluctuations explained: 3 key reasons your weight goes up & down

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:

1. Hydration

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.

2. Hormones

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.

3. Stress

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 how strength training can help you reduce stress.

The Times You Should Never Step on a Scale to Weigh Yourself

Maybe you step on it first thing every morning, or maybe you tuck it away deep in your closet — either way, you probably have a love/hate relationship with your scale. Like so many others, you probably find weighing yourself on a semi-regular basis helps you keep your fitness goals in mind. Whatever your specific reasoning, you most likely feel a little depressed when the number is higher than you expected. While none of us should be slaves to the numbers, you should take note of the situations that can cause you to gain a few pounds. Do yourself (and your sanity) a favor and hide the scale in these instances.

1. Right after a workout

Weighing yourself after a workout is never a good idea. |

If you’re the type to jump on the scale directly following your workout, you’ve probably left your bathroom pretty disappointed. There are some instances when that number will actually be lower because of the fluids lost during sweating. But if the scale shows a higher number after a tough hour at the gym, don’t be too surprised. Shape says inflammation from your muscles trying to repair themselves can cause temporary weight gain, as can water retention that sometimes happens post-workout. Either weigh yourself before the gym or wait until the next day.

Next: Where you put your scale can make all the difference.

2. When your scale’s on a carpet

Leave your scale on a hard surface or don’t use it at all. |

Surprise — this one has nothing to do with your physique or habits, but where you choose to place your scale. New Scientist says you actually weigh more when your scale is on carpet. Basically, your scale’s manufacturer calibrated the piece of equipment on a hard surface, and the mechanism inside that makes it accurate can’t work properly otherwise. If you have a digital scale, the discrepancies won’t be as severe as they are with analog. But even so, try bringing your scale into a carpeted room to see how much of a difference it makes.

Next: The time of the month really matters.

3. During your menstrual cycle

Your menstrual cycle can cause weight fluctuations — and you probably aren’t too happy about it. |

Men, feel free to skip over this one. But ladies, you know the struggle of period weight gain is real. And during this time of the month, you’re well advised to take a break from the scale. Natasha Johnson, a Boston-based gynecologist, even told Women’s Health you can gain up to five pounds of water weight during the week of your period.

There is some good news, though — potassium-rich foods, like bananas and cantaloupe, and healthy fats, like salmon and nuts, can help you beat the bloat. Foods that can cause gas, like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and beans will make matters worse, though.

Next: Are you aware of your clothing choices when weighing yourself?

4. When your shoes and coat are still on

Take those heels off before stepping on the scale. |

Do you visit the doctor wearing the lightest clothing you can find? It’s actually not a bad idea if you want an accurate reading from the scale. In 2013, researchers for the International Journal of Obesity weighed 35 women and 15 men both with and without their clothes on four times over a year. They found men’s clothing typically added about 2.5 pounds onto the scale, and women’s clothing added almost 2 pounds. This is a small sample size, but you might want to keep this in mind if you’re prone to weighing yourself fully clothed.

Next: Skip the scale during this time of day.

5. After a huge dinner

You’ll see this dinner reflected on the scale. |

This might seem obvious, but there’s a reason you weigh more at night — your dinner has yet to digest. Self reminds us 20% of our meals are actually water, and it only takes about a cup of water to add half a pound to your weight. In the morning, your body already had a few hours to remove extra fluids (this is why you have to go to the bathroom so badly when you first wake up). If you’re interested to see how much your weight fluctuates throughout the day, try weighing yourself first thing in the morning and then right before you go to bed.

Next: Quality really does matter when it comes to your scale.

6. When the scale was in the clearance bin

Sales are great, but not when it comes to buying an accurate scale. |

You found a scale at Walmart for $10 bucks — awesome! Unfortunately, what you’ve saved in dollars you’ve sacrificed in accuracy. There’s a good possibility that bargain scale is going to be incredibly wrong when you step on it, and even the expensive ones aren’t necessarily calibrated right. For an accurate reading, says your best bet is to purchase a physician’s scale, though these do tend to take up more space. So here’s a helpful alternative — visit your doctor’s office and ask to be weighed. Write down this number, then, wearing the same clothes, visit a store to try out the scales. The one that’s closest to your doctor’s reading is the one you should purchase.

Next: You’re usually heaviest on this day of the week.

7. When it’s Monday

Monday traffic getting you down? Don’t ruin your mood even more by weighing yourself. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Nobody likes Mondays to begin with, so don’t ruin the start of the week by stepping on the scale first thing in the morning. says it’s normal to weigh more on this day than any other because we’re more likely to indulge in heavier meals and be less active over the weekend. Don’t worry, though — this generally evens out over the week. By Wednesday, you should be totally back to normal.

Next: Going on a trip? Your weight may fluctuate.

8. After you’ve been traveling

Your vacation can certainly cause temporary weight gain. |

Let’s face it — you’re going to give into those delicious foreign treats, the unhealthy on-the-go options, and maybe even a beer or two while on vacation. This can lead to some shock when you step on the scale the day after you’re luxury vacation.

There are a few things you can do to avoid weight gain when traveling, though. Pamela Peeke, M.D., tells Men’s Health you should pack your own travel-friendly, healthy snacks to have on your trip. And drink plenty of fluids — airplanes are super dry, and dehydration can lead you to eat more.

Next: The weather can impact the numbers on the scale.

9. It’s a hot summer day

The heat can cause weight gain, despite the fact you might be sweating buckets. |

It’s reasonable to think all of those exercises you’ve been doing to get bikini-ready have resulted in a slimmer physique, but your scale may think otherwise once summer hits. Don’t worry, though — summer weight gain is quite common, and it’s mainly due to your kidneys trying to reserve more fluids in your body, says Scientific American. You’re likely to gain some water weight if you spend a lot of time outside, even if you sweat quite a bit. Good news for people who love the air conditioning, though — you’re less likely to see the scale go up.

Next: Make sure you eat enough fiber to avoid this issue.

10. If you’re constipated

Eat plenty of fiber to remain regular. |

Not only is constipation uncomfortable, but it can cause temporary weight gain. In severe cases, you may even notice an increase of two to three pounds very quickly on the scale from — you guessed it — feces retention. Don’t panic, though — Step to Health explains you’ll see the scale go back down to normal once things become more regular. Make sure you’re getting plenty of fiber and water in your diet, and aim for lighter dinners so your intestines don’t have to work so hard before bed.

Next: This time of year is when you’re most likely to gain weight.

11. If it’s just after the holidays

You’ll see your weight increase after all those Christmas cookies. |

Even the most dedicated health nut has trouble saying no to mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving and cookies on Christmas, so don’t beat yourself up if you see the numbers on the scale rise right after the holidays. According to a graph from The New England Journal of Medicine shared by Live Science, Americans tend to weigh the most directly after Christmas. After that, though, you’re likely to lose those holiday pounds and not have many other significant changes throughout the year. Our advice? Go for a few treats during that special time of year, don’t abandon your workout plan, and don’t fuss too much over the scale from November through January.

Next: You might want to skip the bread basket.

12. You’ve been chowing down on carbs

Bread’s delicious, but keep it to a minimum. |

You’re probably aware excess sodium can cause water retention, but eating too many carbs can also cause some temporary weight gain. Cynthia Sass, a registered dietitian, tells Shape your body stores excess carbs in your liver and muscles until you need to use them. This carb storage can cause weight gain itself, but you’ll also put away some water with it, too, which can cause an even greater increase. If you notice the scale numbers rising the morning after a meal of bread and pasta, try cutting out refined carbohydrates. Instead, opt for a small serving of whole grains along with more veggies.

Next: Take your self-esteem into account before weighing yourself.

13. You’re already picking apart your appearance

Remember — be kind to the person staring back at you. |

Don’t forget the importance of your mental health. If you’re actively trying to lose weight and you want to continuously weigh yourself without the stress, try switching your scale to metric and keeping track of it that way. It’s basically the same thing, but you’ll be surprised how seeing a different unit of measurement doesn’t give you the same anxiety.

Here’s another tip — if jumping on the scale at the doctor’s office is keeping you from getting your annual check-ups, then let your doc know. Michael Lief, M.D., tells Refinery29 that it’s fine to skip the scale says in most cases. Your blood pressure, lab work, and what you tell them about your lifestyle should paint enough of a picture about your health.

Next: Here’s how to weigh yourself accurately.

How to weigh yourself for more consistent results

Make sure you’re always using the same scale for consistent results. |

So, if you’ve heeded our advice thus far, you’re probably ready to get some more consistent results from your scale. Kathryn Ross, a post-doctoral research fellow, tells U.S. News & World Report the best time to weigh yourself is in the morning after you’ve gone to the bathroom and before you’ve eaten or had anything to drink. Also, wear something similar (or nothing at all) each time you weigh yourself, and use the same scale.

If you want a way to easily track your progress, you might want to look into getting a fitness tracker. Many models allow you to record your daily weight so you can see trends over time.

Next: The scale isn’t the only indicator of health.

Alternatives to a standard scale

Take your measurements instead of stepping on the scale. |

Maybe you’ve decided you’re done with the scale, but you still want to be able to track your weight. Surprisingly, there are a lot of alternatives to try. If you’re just starting a new workout routine and eating plan, Life by Daily Burn suggests taking a before photo and then progress photos every few weeks. Other alternatives include accessing how your clothes fit or measuring different areas of your body with good old-fashioned measuring tape.

You can also go for ways to measure your general fitness level. Give yourself a challenge — say, 20 push-ups — and see how you do at first. Record your results, and revisit the task a few weeks later. Have you improved? If so, give yourself a pat on the back. You might not know whether your efforts have impacted the numbers on the scale, but feeling fitter and stronger is just as beneficial.

Read More: Yes, You Really Can Lose Weight Without Going on a Diet

Don’t Worry: You Didn’t Gain 3 Pounds In One Weekend, You’re Just Bloated

Chill out. You did NOT gain three pounds in three days.

Let’s do the math together. In order to gain three pounds in three days, you’d basically need to eat your standard amount of calories per day, and add on 3,500 additional calories. That’s about 5,500 calories, three days in a row.

Even if you indulged in too much wine, barbecue, chips, cheese, ice cream or whatever is making your stomach hurt today, you did not gain three pounds. Let’s talk about why your scale might like to PRETEND you gained three pounds over a three-day weekend. The key here is water retention and bloat.


If you’re eating most of your food out of restaurants and airports or you’re eating prepackaged snacks, there is usually more refined table salt in your food. This can lead to bloating.


If you are dehydrated, your body actually thinks it needs to hold on to more water to protect you and keep your organs functioning. So that, my friends, means you’ll hold on to that water you have, and it may feel kind of poofy in your face, tummy and arms.

The key to get rid of this poof and bloat is to drink more water, so your body knows it can release its supply and flush out your system. Drink up!


If you’re not on your regular pooping schedule or are holding a bit back, that can easily add a pound of weight to your body. Wait, what, how much does poop weigh? I know you’re now insanely curious, so I did the research for you. A day or two (or three) of poop can weigh between one and four pounds. Oh my gosh, I KNOW. Add in more fiber and water to help things slide right along.

Carbs or Sugar

For every gram of a carb you eat, you hold on to more water weight within your cells. So if you’ve eaten more refined carbs in the last few days, you’re holding on to more water. That’s why a lot of people can “slim down in four days” and “lose six pounds” by severally restricting carbs. They’re essentially just losing short-term water weight.


It’s highly inflammatory. When you have more inflammation in your body, you’ll feel a bit bloated. Also, since alcohol is dehydrating (see above), you’ll retain more water as a safety mechanism to protect your organs and keep your system functioning. Again, drink your water and flush it out. Your organs will thank you.

Red Meat

If you’ve had red meat recently, it could still be in your digestive tract. A hamburger or a steak can take 24 hours to digest. So yes, it’s weighing you down on the scale.

Fill your body with the nutrients from real foods and flood your cells with hydration from whole fruits, veggies and water. A true measure of success in your nutrition, diet and weight maintenance is how quickly you can make a comeback. How quickly can you get back to baseline after going “off-plan?” Do you falter around for a few days, or do you have a plan in place to immediately get back on track?

Use this as an opportunity for renewed inspiration. Make fitness plans, go to the grocery store and prep some healthy meal choices for the rest of the week. You’ll get back to normal soon, I promise.

For anyone trying to lose weight or maintain weight loss, seeing the number on the scale increase even the tiniest bit can be disheartening. Especially when you’re working toward a goal, the last thing you want to see is an unexpected bump in the number after you’ve been diligently following a healthy diet and exercise plan.

But fluctuations in weight day-to-day are totally normal. “If you weighed yourself every hour throughout the day, you’d see dramatic shifts on the scale,” Amanda Foti, M.S., R.D., a senior dietitian at Selvera Weight Management Program, tells SELF. “I prepare every single one of my clients to experience these fluctuations at some point as they are guaranteed to see them regardless if they are eating and exercising perfectly.”

Even if you haven’t been 100 percent diligent—say, you spent a weekend at summer BBQs cheating up a storm—”it is not possible to gain 5 ‘actual’ pounds in one day or one weekend,” Dana Hunnes, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., senior dietitian at UCLA Medical Center and adjunct assistant professor at the Fielding School of Public Health, tells SELF. “It is possible, though, to retain 5 pounds of fluid in the body, particularly if you have been eating super clean.”

The reason you may feel like you magically gained weight overnight can vary. Here are the most likely causes:

1. You ate more sodium than you usually do.

Your body may retain excess water for a few reasons, but the most likely is related to your sodium intake. “If you consume more sodium than normal on a given day, your body will retain more water,” Foti says. Some people are more sensitive to this: For example, if you typically eat very fresh, whole, clean foods and work out regularly, and then forgo a workout and eat a super salty meal, chances are your weight fluctuation will seem more drastic than someone who typically eats more salt. “Mild dehydration can also cause your body to retain fluids,” Foti says. It sounds counterintuitive, but drinking more will help your body get rid of fluids more efficiently and flush excess sodium.

For most fluid-related weight gain, “assuming you go back to your normal eating and drinking habits, the weight gain should really only last 24 to 48 hours,” Hunnes says. “A lot of it will depend on how quickly your kidneys remove the excess water from your body, and whether or not you sweat out some of the excess fluid.”

2. Your plumbing’s a little backed up.

As you eat throughout the day, your weight may increase a few pounds until the next time you effectively empty out your bowels. If things are a little backed up, not only will you feel and look bloated, but your body will contain more weight than if you were to efficiently clear out the old to make room for the new. Make sure you’re eating enough fiber, staying hydrated, and keeping active so that your bowels can do their thing.

3. You’re weighing yourself at different times on different days.

“We can weigh 5, 6, 7 pounds more at night than we do first thing in the morning,” Hunnes says. Part of that is thanks to all the salt we consume throughout the day; the other part is that we may not have fully digested (and excreted) everything we ate and drank that day yet. “We weigh the least amount first thing in the morning after we have used the restroom,” says Hunnes. For the most accurate reading, weigh yourself naked right after you wake up and go to the bathroom. “This will give you a true sense of your true(est) weight.”

4. It’s almost that time of the month.

Hormonal changes right around your period can also increase fluid retention. Period-related weight gain will usually start five to seven days before your period and usually goes away by day three or four of the period, Hunnes says. “How big these fluctuations are really depend on the individual, but are usually between 2 and 8 pounds,” says Foti.

5. You’ve been carbo loading.

Eating a modest amount of healthy carbs is good for you, but eating too many so that you exceed your calorie needs (it’s easy to go overboard accidentally) can lead to both increased fat storage and extra water retention. “For every gram of carbohydrate you store as glycogen, your tissues must retain 3 grams of water with it,” Foti says.

6. You’re on the Pill or taking medication that causes fluid retention.

Some medications include potential side effects of weight gain. “In most, it’s due to a change in hormones causing an increased appetite and consuming more calories—aka true weight gain,” Foti says. “However, there are some medications, like steroids, that cause water retention resulting in what may seem like weight gain but is simply a fluctuation due to fluids in the body.” These fluctuations can be larger than those caused by diet-based water retention, and may not resolve until you go off the meds. “With this type of water retention you’ll likely feel the physical side effects in your extremities, puffy feet and hands,” Foti adds.


My weight goes up and down greatly. For example, I can workout and lose like 3 pounds, but after a meal I can gain the same amount. Is it because I have a lot of water fat?

Welcome to the club! I weighed myself this morning for kicks and came in at 189 lbs, 3 hours later for kicks I was 185. OK so that didn’t actually happen, but it has, all the time.

The good news is. You’re perfectly normal. Nothing really to see here…

I eat about a pound worth of food at most meals, boom, 1 pound heavier!

I get up in the morning and the first thing I do, is empty my bladder. Bam! 1 pound lighter. Maybe I empty something else and well you get the picture, another pound lost.

Is it magic? Or just regular everyday life?

It’s not hard to lose 1-3 lbs in a matter of minutes, or gain 1-3 lbs in a matter of minutes. Which is why I’m always baffled when I see people concerned with gaining a pound… Whoopie! Welcome to the wonderful field of biology.

As someone already pointed out 1 litre of water is roughly 1 kilogram of weight, so if you drink the standard 2-2.5 litres of water a day (not to mention absorb a lot of water through the food you eat…), your weight can theoretically shift 2-5 lbs a day, just through water intake.

I’ve seen weight shifts in a single day of 8-9 lbs with intense exercise and calculated eating. I’m not even that big on a relative spectrum. I’ve seen weight class athletes drop more than that…

Not doing anything special, just manipulating water weight mostly, going from really well hydrated and full to dehydrated and not so full.

Your body is mostly water. Muscle tissue is actually only about 22% protein and is mostly water, adipose tissue is anywhere from 20-50% water depending on where it is and what type it is. Blood, mostly water. Most weight fluctuations on a day to day basis are water related.

That’s why if you’re going to track your weight daily, you’re typically advised to do it at the same time daily so that presumably the factors involved are as similar as one could possibly expect. I generally think you should only do it every other day, or weekly because of how much influence water has even at the same time of day though, that’s just me. Some people find it motivating to track daily, I believe it’s more a nuisance or distraction for many.

Some of us fluctuate more of it a lot daily, through combinations of hydration, food intake (or flushing…), but also the mineral content of our food (salt in particular) and type of foods we eat (carbohydrates actually can move water in and out of the cells more or less depending on salt intake and water intake…).

These water tricks are utilized by many bodybuilders, actors and other physique oriented professionals to make themselves look more ripped.


I would worry about it, you’re perfectly normal.


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Sleep: “The Association Between Sleep Duration and Weight Gain in Adults: A 6-Year Prospective Study from the Quebec Family Study.” “How a Lack of Sleep Affects Your Body.”

Mayo Clinic: “Menopause weight gain: Stop the middle age spread.”

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The American Journal of the Medical Sciences: “Charting of daily weight pattern reinforces maintenance of weight reduction in moderately obese patients.”

Photo: Pond5

You step on the scale in the morning and the digital numbers flash quickly like a slot machine. Cue imaginary drumroll and…Ta-da! The result is a happy one, and it’s automatically a good day! All those workouts and weekly meal planning are finally paying off. But then, you decide to weigh yourself before you go to bed, and the scale shows a four-pound weight increase…What the what?

RELATED: Real Talk: How Often Should You Weigh Yourself?

Did you really gain four actual pounds over the course of a single day? Here’s what you need to know about that shifting number on the scale.

The Truth About Weight Fluctuation

When it comes down to it, water is a main culprit in weight fluctuation. Daily or hourly changes in weight are often due to how much H20 you’ve got inside. “Throughout the day, our body will hold onto fluids as we eat and drink,” says Kelly Hogan, MS, RD, CDN, clinical nutrition coordinator at the Dubin Breast Center at Mount Sinai Hospital. “Just two cups of water — and there’s water in food, too — can add an extra pound.” And that has nothing to do with your percent of body fat or muscle.

Wondering why you feel lighter after a super sweaty hot yoga class? While you may weigh less immediately after an intense workout, you might weigh more if your muscles are hoarding fluids. “Resistance training or even trying a new workout can result in fluid retention if the muscles are worked hard,” says Hogan. ”Part of the body’s response when repairing microscopic tears in muscle is fluid retention.”

RELATED: 10 Ways to Stay Hydrated (That Aren’t Water)

Keep in mind: When you see that number quickly go up and down on the scale, it’s certainly not pounds of fat magically appearing or disappearing. “It physiologically impossible to gain or lose three to five pounds of fat overnight, no matter what the scale says,” Hogan says.

RELATED: The Truth About How to Lose Belly Fat

What you eat, drink and do during the day plays an important role in how much you weigh. If you eat a lot of salty food, you retain fluid, causing you to feel bloated and potentially see a higher number on the scale. Similarly, carbohydrate intake can influence how much water our bodies hold, since our bodies need additional H20 to store glycogen (carbs) for energy. To save each gram of glycogen, we need three grams of water. “This is why endurance athletes who carb-load tend to gain water weight in the days leading up to their races, and why people on low-carb diets lose weight so quickly at first,” Hogan says.

Water Weight Gone Wrong

Another sneaky source of temporary weight gain: dehydration. While body builders and fitness models often intentionally cut down on water before competitions or photo shoots to show off more defined muscles, depleting your body of liquids can actually make you retain water. “When we don’t drink enough fluids, our bodies hold on to whatever water we do have in us to maintain fluid balance,” says Hogan. “Then, our kidneys excrete fewer fluids via urine because they’re training to maintain that balance, and that can make the scale go up.”

Plus, the rapid, intentional weight loss tactics used by body builders certainly aren’t your best bet for sustainable weight loss. So drink up, and your body will find its liquid equilibrium. (Just make sure you’re not rehydrating at happy hour. Alcohol is particularly dehydrating, so you may see the number on the scale creep upwards after a night on the town.)

RELATED: Your Body on..Booze

How to Weigh Yourself

If you’re going to put a lot of weight (pun intended!) into the number on the scale, take a consistent and calculated approach to assess how much your body is actually changing. For starters, do it on the same scale, in the same place and at the same time every week. Wear as few clothes as possible, since heavy jeans or belts will make your measurement less accurate. Also try to go to the bathroom beforehand. (You’ll weigh less after you pee or have a bowel movement.)

When it comes to frequency, you might even want to consider weighing yourself just once or twice a week instead of daily, so you’ll avoid the mind games that come with constantly fluctuating numbers.

The Bottom Line

While the scale can be a useful tool to hold yourself accountable, it shouldn’t be the only way you assess how healthy you are. Your weight may not budge, but you might be making healthy changes to your diet or potentially building muscle.

“Remember to look at the big picture,” says Hogan. “Progress over one or two months says a lot more than a few days or even a week.” Check in with how your clothes fit, or take weekly measurements of your stomach, thighs, hips and arms.

What other amazing things can happen to your body? Check out these non-scale victories that are just as sweet as seeing the scale change.

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If you’re anything like us, you have days where you obsessively check your weight, hoping the number on the scale will drop at least half a pound (unfortunately, those days tend to become more and more frequent in the middle of bikini season).

But before you get all bummed out about your “number,” you should know the facts (and myths) about what affects your weight.

We asked Karen Ansel, registered dietitian in New York and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, to give us the skinny on our five most pressing weight questions:

1. Is it true that we weigh less in the morning?

Generally, yes, because you don’t have the added weight of a recent undigested meal. During the day, when you’re eating and drinking, those foods (and fluids) add weight—at least until they’re digested and excreted. Just a cup of water adds half a pound, for example—and 20 percent of most meals are water, which adds up to a lot of extra weight. Since you’re not eating or drinking during the night (unless you get the midnight munchies), your body has a chance to remove extra fluids (that’s why you pee so much in the morning when you wake up). So weigh yourself in the morning … after you pee.

2. After we go No. 2?

Yes—for obvious reasons! But for those of you who aren’t squeamish, we’ll explain. When you have a bowel movement, you’re emptying your colon. Depending how much you go, that visit to the ladies’ room can add up to half a pound a day—hence the reason you feel so much lighter after you poop. If you’re the type of person who takes care of business first thing in the morning, weigh yourself right after you go. If you’re more likely to go after breakfast, weigh yourself first so your meal doesn’t add extra pounds to the scale. Either way works as long as you’re consistent.

3. Do we really weigh more when we’re soaking wet?

Probably not. Any water on your body, or in your hair, probably wouldn’t account for more than an ounce or two (1/16th or 1/8th of a pound).

4. Does it matter if you have clothing/undies on? Or should you be totally nude?

Not really. The trick is to stay consistent from one day to the next, so you can adequately measure real change. So don’t weigh yourself in your birthday suit one day and wearing sweats and tennis shoes the next. If you do choose to weigh yourself fully clothed, you can deduct anywhere from a half a pound to two pounds (depending what you’re wearing) to get your “real” weight.

5. We know that muscle weighs more than fat. So does that mean if we buff up for summer, we’ll weigh more?

Muscle does weigh more than fat, so if you gain muscle without losing fat, you’ll end up weighing more. Ideally, you want to gain muscle while losing fat, so the number on the scale shouldn’t change that much if you’re truly improving your fitness and body composition.

A little side note: If the number on the scale affects the quality of your day, it’s time to ditch your scale. Still can’t rid yourself of your daily weigh-in? Focus on staying between a 5-pound-range (plus or minus)—not an exact weight. If your weight fluctuates a couple of pounds, it might just be because you’re in between bowel movements, or you had a salty meal.

Related Links:

  • People Who Lose More Weight Do This
  • Is New Obesity Scale Better Than BMI?

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For decades, the conventional wisdom has been that most people gain around five pounds between that first forkful of Thanksgiving stuffing to the greasy egg breakfast on New Year’s Day.

Well, good news is that the five-pound pile-on is, like a lot of what you hear about holiday weight gain, overblown. Check out these holiday weight gain facts that will take your mind off the pounds and put it on enjoying time with your friends and family.

If you gain weight over the holidays, it’ll probably just be a pound or two.

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study of adults showing that the average holiday weight gain was .37 kilograms, or just under a pound, and more than half the people in the study stayed within a kilogram, or just over two pounds, of their other weigh-ins.

“If you start to push the envelope at Thanksgiving and proceed to green-light every Christmas cookie and cocktail, you could put on five,” says Lauren Slayton, MS, RD, a New York City dietician and founder of Foodtrainers. “But I think all the holiday weight gain hysteria has made most people aware enough to be reasonable.”

Even if the scale says you put on five pounds, you probably haven’t.

“What I notice is that over the course of those weeks, people are eating out more at dinner parties and events and drinking more alcohol — and are sleeping less, which typically contributes to weight gain,” says Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD, owner of BZ Nutrition in New York City. “But a lot of what the scale reads is more water weight than fat gain.” Eating more starchy foods (hello, sweets and dinner rolls!) and more salt than usual leads to water retention and bloat.

So you may heel heavier, but by going back to your normal healthy eating (lots of water-filled veggies and fruits, drinking lots of water, and judicious choices that don’t involve crumbled candy canes sprinkled on top) that water weight will go away again.

You’re highly unlikely to break even by exercising more during the holidays.

“This type of food/exercise math is always faulty,” says Slayton, who is 100% pro-exercise for its much-needed mood-boosting benefits (plus it can be an escape from a too much family togetherness.) “But it does not ‘cancel out’ the stuffing and nog.”

Science and Zeitlin agree. “Weight loss is around 80% what you put into your body and 20% what you sweat off,” she says.

There’s also the risk that thinking of that you “deserve” another wedge of pecan pie (502 calories) because you power walked that morning (around 180 calories burned in a half hour). “We all know how that story ends,” says Slayton.

Walter B. McKenzieGetty Images

You’re also unlikely to “make up for” overdoing it quickly, even if you diet in January.

“If you were boozing and sugaring it up, you might not have an easy time going cold turkey. Sweet begets sweet — once you start mainlining it, you want it and a salad no longer looks good. And these festive foods can affect your microbiome. Even when you start to eat better, there can be a lag based on the effects all that fun had on your body,” Slayton says.

Far better to just be chill in the first place. Zeitlin advises picking one treat per event — i.e., at this party you’ll drink, and at the next event, you can have dessert. “Your indulgences are part of your healthy living — when they are planned, looked forward to, and savored,” she says. This is true all year long, not just at the end of the year, she adds.
Slayton likes the “1 of 4” rule: Of bread, booze, “dinner carbs” like rice or potatoes, and dessert, at any meal, you pick just one. “Or two if you must, but skip the others,” she says.

Eating a breakfast with filling protein, drinking lots of water, eating veggies, and lean proteins (as you would any time of year) and not showing up to food-centric events ready to gnaw your own arm off will also help you avoid holiday pounds.

That gingerbread dude is not — repeat, not — the last cookie you will ever eat.

Kind of like an end-of-year clearance sale, you see the groaning buffet and feel like if you don’t snarf that cookie/cake/candy/roll/whatever right then, you’ll never get another opportunity.

I mean, sure, there’s a teeny tiny chance that you’ll get run over by a reindeer as soon as you leave the party, but odds are excellent that you’ll live to eat another day.

This comes back to planning to have a treat, and being less all-or-nothing in your thinking, says Zeitlin. “If you go into the evening knowing you’ve planned for 3-4 cookies, then you will savor each one a bit more and not feel the immediate boomerang effect of ‘can’t have any’ to ‘having them all,’” she says. “The more restrictive you are, the more likely you are to binge.”

And if you do have a few too many whatevers? “Relax, take a deep breath, and tell yourself that the next meal is back to your regularly scheduled program,” says Zeitlin. “The spiraling comes from shame and guilt — hard pass.”

Stephanie Dolgoff Deputy director, Health Newsroom, Hearst Lifestyle Group Stephanie, an award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author, has written and edited about health, fitness, and wellness for such publications as Good Housekeeping, Self, Glamour, Real Simple, Parenting, Cosmo and more.


Basic Principles Simply put, we lose weight if we consume less energy than we use. Energy comes from the food and drink that we eat and is measured in calories (Cals, cals or kcals). Energy is burnt constantly by our bodies, the amount of energy burnt doing a particular activity varies by its intensity. Assuming that your weight is currently stable, your energy-in and energy-out are equal. To lose weight, this equation needs to be unbalanced, so energy-out is greater than energy-in. Naturally, we can achieve this in two ways. We can burn more energy, by doing exercise, or we can consume less energy, by eating fewer calories (note, this need not mean less food by weight or volume). For most people losing weight is roughly a 80:20 diet:exercise split, simply because it’s a lot easier to deny yourself a ~300kcal slice of cake than walking 2-3 miles to burn it off. You can lose weight without any exercise whatsoever if you wish, but exercise in itself is very good for you either way. Be Realistic Besides the very basics, you have to be realistic and accept that, if you want to lose weight, you’re going to have to change a few things. Possibly the most important realization is that you need to make a lifestyle change. The majority of people need to change their diet, as opposed to go on a diet; reverting to old habits will see you reverting to old body-weights, too.

Why our programs get you fast results – safely. Fad diets don’t work. Often fad diets are referred to a yo-yo diets because your body weight goes up and down with each and every fad diet you try. You may take the weight off (sometimes with unpleasant side effects) but, you don’t have the tools to keep it off for good so your weight goes back up. With Herbal Magic, you will lose weight quickly, safely (with no unpleasant side effects) and keep it off. Each Herbal Magic weight loss program combines real food, personal coaching, and natural health products. It is the combination of these important elements that gives you weight loss results, quickly and safely. There are three steps to help you lose weight and keep it off, for good: We’ll give you the tools to achieve: Fast, healthy weight loss Keeping the weight off Your personal goals We will provide a customized weight loss solution that will provide fast, long-lasting results for you. Guaranteed! Related sites with real life stories:”


You can quickly change your appearance with a new hair style or color. Try a different outfit and change your scenery. Makeover is short for make over, this is reinventing, recreating yourself. A makeover can make you feel better and help you accomplish your goals. Try some new makeup or wearing glasses. Loose some weight, change your appearance, gain confidence and you will succeed!

Getting and Staying motivated

Use the model to see what you will look like. This will help you get motivated and stay motivated. Being able to see yourself is key. By having a visual image of what you can achieve you can stay motivated, eat healthy, be happy!

Ideal Weight Calculator

The Ideal Weight Calculator computes ideal bodyweight (IBW) ranges based on height, gender, and age. The idea of finding the IBW using a formula has been sought after by many experts for a long time. Currently, there persist several popular formulas, and our Ideal Weight Calculator provides their results for side-to-side comparisons.

feet inches
Height cm


The ideal weight based on popular formulas:

Related BMI Calculator | Body Fat Calculator | Calorie Calculator

How Much Should I Weigh?

Most everyone has at some point tried to lose weight, or at least known somebody who has. This is largely due to the perception of an “ideal” body weight, which is often based on what we see promoted through various media such as social media, TV, movies, magazines, etc. Although ideal body weight (IBW) today is sometimes based on perceived visual appeal, IBW was actually introduced to estimate dosages for medical use, and the formulas that calculate it are not at all related to how a person looks at a given weight. It has since been determined that the metabolism of certain drugs is more based on IBW than it is total body weight. Today, IBW is also used widely throughout sports, since many sports classify people based on their body weight.

Note that IBW is not a perfect measurement. It does not consider the percentages of body fat and muscle in a person’s body. This means that it is possible for highly fit, healthy athletes to be considered overweight based on their IBW. This is why IBW should be considered with the perspective that it is an imperfect measure and not necessarily indicative of health, or a weight that a person should necessarily strive toward; it is possible to be over or under your “IBW” and be perfectly healthy.

How much a person should weigh is not an exact science. It is highly dependent on each individual. Thus far, there is no measure, be it IBW, body mass index (BMI), or any other that can definitively state how much a person should weigh to be healthy. They are only references, and it’s more important to adhere to making healthy life choices such as regular exercise, eating a variety of unprocessed foods, getting enough sleep, etc. than it is to chase a specific weight based on a generalized formula.

That being said, many factors can affect the ideal weight; the major factors are listed below. Other factors include health conditions, fat distribution, progeny, etc.


In theory, age shouldn’t be a large determinant of a IBW past the ages of 14-15 for girls and 16-17 for boys, after which most people stop growing. It is actually expected that human males and females to lose 1.5 and 2 inches in height respectively by age 70. It is important to remember that as people age, lean muscle mass decreases and it is easier to accumulate excess body fat. This is a natural process, though it is possible to lessen the effects of aging by adopting various habits such as monitoring diet, exercise, stress, and sleep.


Generally, females weigh less than males even though they naturally have a higher percentage of body fat. This is because the male body generally has higher muscle mass, and muscle is heavier than fat. Not only that, but women generally have lower bone density. Last but not least, males tend to be taller than females.


The taller the person, the more muscle mass and body fat they have, which results in more weight. A male at a similar height to a female should weigh about 10-20% heavier.

Body Frame Size

Body frame size is another factor that can have a significant impact on the measurement of ideal weight. Body frame size is typically categorized as small, medium, or large boned. It is measured based on the circumference of a person’s wrist in relation to their height, as shown below.

For women:

For men:

  • Height over 5′ 5″
    • Small boned = wrist size 5.5″ to 6.5″
    • Medium boned = wrist size 6.5″ to 7.5″
    • Large boned = wrist size over 7.5″

A person who is large boned will naturally weigh more than someone who is small boned, even at the same height, making body frame size a factor that can affect measurements such as IBW and BMI.

Formulas for Finding the Ideal Weight

IBW formulas were developed mainly to facilitate drug dosage calculations. All of the formulas, have the same format of a base weight given a height of 5 feet, with a set weight increment added per inch over the height of 5 feet. For example, if you are a 5’10” male estimating your ideal weight with the Devine formula, you would add (2.3 × 10) kg to 50 kg to get 73 kg, or ~161 lbs.

The formulas differ in the values used based on the research of the scientists involved in their development, and their findings. The Devine formula is the most widely used formula for the measurement of IBW.

G. J. Hamwi Formula (1964)

Male: 48.0 kg + 2.7 kg per inch over 5 feet
Female: 45.5 kg + 2.2 kg per inch over 5 feet

Invented for medicinal dosage purposes.

B. J. Devine Formula (1974)

Male: 50.0 kg + 2.3 kg per inch over 5 feet
Female: 45.5 kg + 2.3 kg per inch over 5 feet

Similar to the Hamwi Formula, it was originally intended as a basis for medicinal dosages based on weight and height. Over time, the formula became a universal determinant of IBW.

J. D. Robinson Formula (1983)

Male: 52 kg + 1.9 kg per inch over 5 feet
Female: 49 kg + 1.7 kg per inch over 5 feet

Modification of the Devine Formula.

D. R. Miller Formula (1983)

Male: 56.2 kg + 1.41 kg per inch over 5 feet
Female: 53.1 kg + 1.36 kg per inch over 5 feet

Modification of the Devine Formula.

Healthy BMI Range

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended healthy BMI range is 18.5 – 25 for both male and female. Based on the BMI range, it is possible to find out a healthy weight for any given height.

BMI is a commonly used metric for determining IBW. It is widely used in the medical field as a quick indicator of possible health complications. Generally, the higher the BMI, the higher the chance a person will suffer from health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and many more. It is an indicator used by doctors to advise their patients of potential health problems, especially if there is a noticeable progressive increase in their BMI, and is currently the official metric for classifying individuals according to different obesity levels.

Healthy BMI Range for Children

All the formulas above are for adults age 18 or older. For children and teens, please refer to the following BMI charts published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recommends that children maintain a BMI between the 5th and 85th percentile based on their age.

  1. CDC BMI chart for boys between ages 2 and 20
  2. CDC BMI chart for girls between ages 2 and 20

Limitations of our IBW calculator

There are limitations to all the formulas and methods. Because the formulas are designed to be as applicable to as wide a range of people as possible, they cannot be highly accurate for every single individual. The formulas factor only height and gender, and there are no considerations for physical handicaps, people on the extreme ends of the spectrum, activity levels, or muscle mass to body fat ratios, otherwise known as body composition. Our Ideal Weight Calculator is meant to be used as a general guideline based on popular formulas, and its results are not intended as strict values that a person must achieve to be considered an “ideal weight.”

5 pound weight gain

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