21 Jun Why the scale went up overnight- How to get over your fear of the scale.
Even if you eat the same thing every single day, you’ll still experience days where the scale goes up overnight.
It’s not because you’ve magically gained fat.
In this article, I want to explain why the scale went up overnight and help you overcome any fears you may have around the scale.
The scale isn’t bad. It’s your perception of what it means that makes it seem bad. You can change this!
WHY THE SCALE WENT UP OVERNIGHT
Understanding Scale Weight Fluctuations
The number on the scale reflects your body weight.
Your body weight is the total weight of everything in your body. There’s fat, but there’s also all your organs your bones, muscle, and water, plus any food that’s being digested.
The scale isn’t a direct indication of how much fat you have.
Even the scales that measure your body fat are incredibly inaccurate.
There are so many things that can influence your body weight:
- How many carbs you had the day before
- If you have water retention
- How much food is sitting in your intestines
- If you’re experiencing inflammation
- Gaining or losing muscle
- Gaining or losing fat
Changes in your body weight could be due to any of these factors. It isn’t necessarily a result of fat gain or loss.
Understanding The Scale- WEIGHT GAIN
If the scale goes up by a pound overnight, it’s unlikely that you’ve gained a pound of fat.
Body fat is basically stored energy.
A pound of body fat contains about 3500 calories worth of energy.
In order to gain a pound of body fat overnight, you’d have to eat 3500 calories OVER your maintenance calorie requirements.
That’s a lot of food.
If the scale went up overnight by 2 pounds you’d need to have eaten even more.
If the scale went up overnight, it could be some fat gain. But if you’re eating in a calorie deficit, or even around your maintenance calorie intake, it’s likely the weight is water, not fat.
Especially if it goes up by a lot.
You may be holding onto extra water for a number of reasons.
For example, when you lift weights you break down your muscle fibres. Your body mounts an inflammatory response so that these fibres can be repaired. The inflammation causes a build up of fluid which may cause the scale to spike up the day after an intense weight training session.
Another example is if you eat more carbohydrates than what you’re used to. Carbohydrates are stored in your liver and muscles as glycogen. Your body retains 3 grams of water for every gram of glycogen stored. That’s why you may lose weight very quickly at the start of a diet. Usually you’ll cut down on your intake of carbohydrates which results in depletion of your glycogen stores and you’ll lose the extra water too.
Elevated cortisol can cause water retention so if you’re stressed you might notice the scale spike up. When it does, it will likely stay up until you stop stressing. You can learn more about stress and its impact on fat loss here.
Fat gain doesn’t happen overnight.
You have to eat over your maintenance calories consistently for weeks in order to gain lots of fat. Even if you overate yesterday, there’s no need to worry. You won’t have gained much fat, if any.
Understanding The Scale- WEIGHT LOSS
Weight loss and fat loss are not the same thing.
If the scale goes down overnight, it’s likely due to water loss.
Fat loss takes time. Your body has to have a need to use energy from your fat stores without replacing it.
That’s why you have to be eating in a calorie deficit in order to lose fat.
When you’re eating in a calorie deficit, you might lose muscle and water too.
Let’s say you did lose a pound of weight overnight and it was 100% fat. That means you’d need to eat in a 3500 calorie deficit for the day. If your maintenance calorie requirements are 2000 calories per day, then you’d have to not eat, and do hours of exercise in order for this to happen.
What’s more likely is that you’d aim to eat in a 3500 calorie deficit over the course of the week (a 500 calorie per day deficit is much more reasonable), and could then expect to lose a pound of weight for that week.
That pound of weight lost is still likely to be from losing a combination of fat, muscle and water.
That’s why fat loss takes time. You can speed it up by eating in a bigger calorie deficit, but that also increases your chance of losing more muscle.
If you stick to a moderate deficit, the scale might move down more slowly but that’s a good thing.
Fast weight loss is a sign you’re losing muscle or water, not fat.
Let’s take a look at muscle. Unlike fat, a pound of muscle stores about 600-700 calories.
If you ate in a 3500 calorie deficit for a week, you’d lose weight. If you lost 100% muscle (and no fat), you’d lose 5-6 pounds of weight.
So if you lose only muscle, you’ll lose weight more quickly than if you lose only fat. But losing muscle isn’t going to help you look better or get healthier.
This means that the scale going down quickly isn’t going to help you look better!
Weight loss might happen overnight but fat loss doesn’t.
If your goal is fat loss, you should expect the scale to gradually move down over the course of weeks to months.
Understanding The Scale- LACK OF MOVEMENT
The scale might not change, even when you’re making fat loss progress.
One of the main reasons for this is water retention.
If you’re stressed, water retention can mask fat loss progress by causing the scale to stay the same when it should be moving down.
If you’re female, you might experience water retention and bloating from your menstrual cycle which will do the same thing. Understanding when this is likely to happen during your cycle can help you learn to predict when the scale might go up or stay the same. You can learn how to do that here.
Another reason the scale might not change is if you’re losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time. Muscle is denser than fat which means it takes up less space for the same amount of weight. If you build muscle and lose fat, you might weigh the same but you’ll actually look leaner.
You might have hit a plateau too. But you need to make sure you’ve really hit a plateau before you make any changes. You can learn more about dealing with plateaus here.
WHY THE SCALE WENT UP OVERNIGHT
Getting Over Your Fear Of The Scale
Stressing about the number on the scale won’t help you.
Avoiding the scale because it makes you feel bad, won’t help you either.
Overcoming your fear of the scale will.
I can’t stand when people say “Screw the scale” or “Weighing yourself every day is obsessive.”
That’s dramatic and really shows a lack of understanding.
With any fear, if you push it to the side and hide from it, it’s still going to be there subconsciously ruling your life.
When it comes to weighing yourself, if you’re not willing to do so, you’ll be missing out on seeing important data.
Instead of letting the scale control your emotions, you’d be better off overcoming your fear of the scale.
How to Get Over Your Fear of the Scale:
1- Understand Scale Fluctuations
Part of overcoming your fear of the scale is understanding body weight fluctuations.
Weighing yourself daily can help you do this.
If you notice your weight has spiked up, instead of freaking out, think about what you did the day before that could cause it to go up. Maybe you ate a lot of carbs late at night, maybe your digestion is messed up for some reason, or maybe you’re stressed.
Being mindful of things like these and learning to associate scale fluctuations with them, will help you get more comfortable around seeing the scale go up and down.
Weighing yourself daily isn’t obsessive unless you make it that way. It can be a great way to learn more about your body and what’s really going on.
2- Have a Goal Look
It’s ok to have a goal body weight. What’s even better and more meaningful, is having a goal look.
The number that you think you need to see on the scale to get to your goal body is going to be different when you reach your goal.
When you have a goal body weight in mind, it limits you.
Wouldn’t you rather look better and weigh more, than weigh less and look worse?
You can’t know for sure that your best looking body is going to be achieved at a number you’ve made up in your head.
When you have a goal body weight, it sets you up to be constantly chasing that number. When the scale fluctuates or doesn’t change, you’ll be disappointed. You might even be making progress that you don’t notice because you’re too focused on the number on the scale.
That’s obsessive, weighing yourself daily is not.
Having a goal look instead of a goal body weight will help you detach from the number on the scale and stop obsessing over it. You’ll start finding it easier to see other forms of progress and to see your body weight as simply data.
3- Monitor Long Term Changes
The scale is more useful for looking at long term trends.
When you collect your body weight daily, you’ll end up with a lot of data.
Rather than comparing the daily changes, you want to compare changes week by week and month by month, to monitor fat loss progress.
Fat loss takes time so you shouldn’t expect the scale to move down super fast. Pay attention to what actually reflects fat loss progress; downward trends in your body weight over the course of weeks and months.
You should also be paying attention to the other things that are a good indicator of fat loss progress mentioned here.
The number on the scale doesn’t define your worth.
You can be a good person and do good things, no matter what the scale says.
You can be happy, no matter what you weigh.
The number on the scale is just a number. It does have meaning but only the meaning you attach to it.
I hope now you have a better understanding of what this should be.
If you have any questions feel free to contact me here.