Dieting & Dealing with weight fluctuation?
Take a deep breath & follow me…
Let’s start with these questions, ask yourself:
– Are you in a caloric deficit? Are you following a meal plan that’s putting you in a caloric deficit at the end of the day/the week?
– Are you sticking to your meal plan? Not just have it written but also applying it?
– Are you combining your diet plan with a training plan? Resistance training, aerobic training or any sort of physical activity to increase your “energy output? Helping your diet with exercise to “burn” more calories is always useful to increase your daily deficit. So, are you moving?
If your answers to the above are “YES“; then STOP, relax, you do not need to panic. Let me explain why…
First & foremost, weight-loss is never linear. Your weight loss pace/speed will not be the same throughout your journey. Some weeks, you can drop more weight than others. You will face some weeks where your weight will stay stable. Some days, you can even wake up HEAVIER! Yes, heavier. This is our normal physiological body-weight fluctuation.
As a coach, I see my clients dealing with situations of frustration & self-doubt when one of the two things happen:
It’s weigh-in day and….
1) Their weight did not change! Scale number is the same, not down!
2) Their weight moved up! Scale number has increased.
This is very common & normal to occur in the weight-loss journey, let me elaborate.
– Are you a female dieter? with a menstrual cycle?
Our hormones & their fluctuation will cause water retention which will make the scale number go up! Expect to be surprised! It’s the tough truth.
During your menstrual cycle (28 days), you got two phases: Follicular phase & Luteal phase. Each of these phases is divided into two parts: early & late.
* Early Follicular phase (Day1 – Day7): post menstruation, progesterone & estrogen are both low. Hunger is low, blood glucose is stable. Water retention is lowered (post-mens)
* Late Follicular phase (Day8 – Day14): water retention is increased while blood glucose is still stable & hunger is still low. Estrogen is increasing.
Day 14-15 mark the ovulation
* Early Luteal phase (Day15-Day21): post ovulation, estrogen will drop, so hunger will increase along with the food cravings. Progesterone level will start to increase and reaches a max at the end of this phase. Water retention is still low but blood glucose is unstable, and hunger is increase.
* Late Luteal phase (Day21 – Day 28 including the PMS day): Progesteron will drop, so does estrogen. The decrease in progesterone will cause lots of changes on your body: water retention (the highest during the menstrual cycle), increased hunger, and blood glucose still unstable. Not to forget, mood & energy are negatively affected also by the drop in progesteron levels.
So, during your 28days of cycle, you’ll deal with two water-retention phases:
1- During late Follicular phase: body will retain water.
2- During late Luteal phase: body’s water retention will the the highest.
This means, when you are actually sticking to your deficit calories & workout routine, your body weight might increase or stay stable. This will make you think that you’ve gained weight or simply not losing weight anymore.
Truth is you’re just retaining water weight because of your hormones. So, this 1-2kg of water retention is hiding or masking your weight loss.
So, do not panic! Do not question your plan! stick to it & once the water weight goes away, you’ll be surprised with the new low-er weight-number on the scale.
– Did you eat late at night, later than your usual last-meal time? and then the next day had your weigh in?
Well, the food in your digestive tract can be causing the increase in your weight! So, you can wake up seeing your weight has either 1) not changed, Or worse 2) has even increased.
Does this mean you didn’t progress? or you even gained weight? No! You were just unlucky & weighed-in on a day when you had different food timing the night before.
– The embarrassing (not really) question: Are you dealing with constipation issues?
Let’s face it; not being regular can be the cause why you woke up heavier! Enough said 🙂
– Did you by any chance eat sodium/salt more than the usual? The day prior to your weigh-in day?
Well, you could be retaining water because of this; reason why you can wake up heavier the next day, Or wake up with the same weight as your previous weigh-in. So your assumption of “no- progress” or even “weight gain” is wrong! You’re just holding on into extra water weight, which again is masking your weight loss or even adding some extra weight on you!
Reason #4: Food Allergies & intolerance
– Are you allergic or have food intolerance? To lactose for example? and, by mistake you consumed some dairy products?
Well, this could cause a weight gain (Water retention) in your case since you’re diagnosed with this food issue. So, this is very case specific!
In your case, you’ll wake up bloated, with digestive issues, and heavier!
Does this mean you’re not progressing? or gaining weight? NO! Again, it’s just a unique weigh-in day! A wrong day to weigh in.
– Stressed out? Life stress, work stress, relationship stress, diet-stress etc…
Dieting on its own is a stress factor on your system. Top it off with life stress (!), and you got yourself increased cortisol situation (above the normal ranges). This will cause water retention.
What will happen when your body holds on to extra water?
– Your weight can stay the same: the extra weight is masking your weight-loss.
– Or, in worse cases, your weight can be increased. This extra weight your body is holding will not only mask the weight loss but also add more kg on top of it.
But, did you stop losing weight? Did you gain “Real” weight? NO!
This water retention will be gone soon (there are diet-strategies to help the body relax & lose it like diet breaks, refeeds, etc)! Once you get rid of the water weight, you’ll get the “woosh” effect which means your body weight will be dropped by quite good amount!
– Are you being patient?
Outside the hormonal water retention situation, at some point weight loss can be simply slowed down.
– You could be measuring your food slightly wrong,
– or exercised (burnt) less, reducing you NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis, i’ll write about this one in detail soon) basically, it means you’re just sitting more in your day vs moving around.
– or had a certain food-event that could have affected your deficit etc..
– Or, even, with 100% accurate adherence to your diet & workout plan
One week of slower progress or maintaining your weight (not seeing the number decrease), should not make you worry! Remember, one week is only 7 days. It’s perfectly ok!
Be patient, do not rush the process.
Progress tracking 101 tips:
– Scale number is important & should be tracked but NOT alone. Always be objective about it. If you can’t, then better to not weigh-in too often. If you’re still not ready to accept seeing your normal body-weight fluctuation which will get you demotivated & frustrated; in this case, it is better to avoid it as much as possible!
– Are you taking body measurements? hips, thighs, waist, lower belly, glutes, arm circumference etc..
If these numbers are decreasing, then you know you’re losing weight (Fat), right? Yes, you are!
Always, take the full data then analyze your plan & judge it. Weight number on the scale is never enough to evaluate your plan.
– Are you taking pictures? Trust me, pictures are a great tool to track your progress. You’ll be surprised how much changes photos can show you!
– Are you getting fitter & stronger in the gym? Are you feeling lighter doing your daily errands? Is your mood & energy more lit & positive?
All the above is part of your weight-loss victory!
Long story short, as long as you are sticking to a deficit plan, you will lose weight!
Patience is very important. This is a long-term journey, as much as it sounds cliche to you, it remains very true.
Your weight-loss is not going to be an easy ride, lots of emotions are attached to it & that’s human! You will be subjective & judgmental & harsh on yourself at times; but always shake it off & remember these facts!
Knowledge is power, you need to learn to deal walk in this journey with a rational & objective view! So you can stay in it for the long term.
Any questions? Need any help or guidance?
Let me know, I’m here to support you.
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Diane Jilenkrian <3