It’s likely that you’ve been wondering, “How did I gain 2 pounds overnight?” You may have attributed it to overeating or a change in your exercise routine. But what you probably didn’t know is that weight fluctuations are natural for the human body and can happen for many different reasons. In this article, we’ll explore some of those reasons and how you can prevent them from happening again.
Is It Possible To Gain 2 Pounds Of Fat Overnight?
No, it’s impossible to gain 2 pounds of fat overnight. To gain that much fat, you would have to eat 7,000 calories more than your body burns in a single day. That said, it is possible for your weight to increase from other sources such as water, food, and even stress. Most times when the scale goes up it’s due to water retention. Knowing this, we’ll look at a few reasons why this happens.
What Causes Overnight Water Weight Gain?
There are several reasons for overnight weight fluctuations, including:
Having A Salty Dinner
Eating or drinking certain foods just before bedtime can cause you to retain water. An example of this is eating salty food, such as chips and gravy, right before bed. This causes extra fluid in your body to be stored in your tissues, making you have a weight increase the next day when you wake up (7). The same goes for drinking a lot of fluids before bedtime; having extra liquid in your system will also cause an increase in weight when you get out of bed.
Eating Too Much Sugar
Eating too much sugar is one of the most common reasons for water weight gain. This includes sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup, honey or agave nectar as well as natural sugar content in foods like fruit and dairy products.
Healthy kidneys are able to keep electrolytes under control to maintain stable blood pressure, but sometimes the body’s response to a sudden influx of simple sugars taxes these important organs. When that happens, sodium levels rise while potassium falls (2). This completely corrects itself within an hour or two after your last bite of dessert, but it does contribute to bloating and some temporary weight gain due to increased fluid retention.
When your body doesn’t have enough water to function properly, you experience dehydration and this can lead to increased appetite and decreased energy. Being dehydrated also makes you more thirsty the next day after a night of not drinking enough fluids (8). This may even cause you to drink excessive amounts of caffeine or alcohol during the day, making it even harder for your kidneys to balance sodium levels the next night.
If you’re dehydrated at bedtime, your body ends up holding onto every drop of water that enters your system throughout the night – making it much easier for you to gain weight overnight.
Missing A Bowel Movement
When you don’t have a bowel movement before bed, waste sits in your intestine and draws water into the stool. If this continues for several days in a row, it can cause you to gain 2 pounds overnight. Plus, waste weighs more than regular food, so it can make you look or feel bloated.
Hormones are powerful substances that help to control your body’s functions. They’re also responsible for controlling changes in weight brought about by water balance. For example, estrogen increases sodium retention which can increase the amount of fluid in your system, making you gain weight overnight when you wake up (4).
If you have a food intolerance, eating certain foods can lead to continued water retention and weight gain. Symptoms of this include bloating soon after eating the offending food and feeling generally unwell throughout the day (5). However, because water weight fluctuates so rapidly it’s hard to see how intolerances affect your weight on a daily basis.
When you work out intensely, you lose water through sweat. If your workouts are intense enough in duration or frequency, getting dehydrated overnight becomes a very real possibility resulting in increased body weight when you wake up the next morning (6). Drinking extra fluids before bed will help you make sure you wake up heavier than when you went to sleep.
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Starting To Eat Carbs Again
In some people, especially those who have been dieting or fasting, a meal high in carbohydrates, such as pasta or rice, can be stored as glycogen. Glycogen is stored with water, which causes an individual to gain water weight very quickly – as much as 2 pounds overnight.
Drinking A Lot Of Alcohol Before Bed
Alcohol acts as a diuretic causing dehydration that can cause bloating and an increased body weight the next morning. Plus, if you drink too much alcohol before bed you’ll feel groggy and less likely to get up during the night for a trip to the bathroom (12). So while you don’t drink enough water throughout the day, your body will hold onto every last drop.
Some medications lead to water retention as a side effect. Be sure to speak to your doctor if this is a concern. Never stop medications on your own without speaking to your doctor first.
Late Night Dinners
Even if you have an early dinner, eating too close to bedtime can cause you to wake up with extra weight because the food has sat in your stomach overnight. Food takes about 4 hours to fully digest before it leaves your stomach and enters the intestines, where it travels through for even longer. This means that having a bigger meal closer to bedtime causes more to be left behind and weighs you down when you wake up. Drinking water throughout the day helps keep things moving because it won’t just sit in one spot.
Unexplained rapid weight gain may be a sign of pregnancy. When you’re pregnant, the baby requires extra nutrients which means more food for mommy. Plus your estrogen levels are higher so sodium is held onto causing additional weight gain (10). If you gain 3 pounds overnight or notice a significant difference in your weight day-to-day with other typical pregnancy symptoms, contact your doctor to rule out pregnancy as the cause.
If you are under extreme stress or strain, your cortisol levels usually increase. Cortisol is one of the hormones that make you feel hungry even when your body doesn’t need food – causing cravings for high carbohydrate foods like pasta and breads. Furthermore, cortisol also makes your kidneys retain sodium, which can contribute to heightened blood pressure and water retention throughout your body (11).
How To Avoid Overnight Water Weight Gain
I’m sure you’ve experienced the phenomenon of waking up in the morning and not being able to fit into your favorite pair of jeans. You step on the scale only to realize that you’ve gained 2 pounds since yesterday evening! This is a frustrating situation that many people deal with on a regular basis, but it’s important to note that water weight gain is different from fat weight gain. Everyone wants to know how they can avoid overnight water weight gain or limit their gains after big nights out drinking, so here are some tips for avoiding unfortunate fluctuations in your weight:
Don’t Eat Right Before Bed
Eating before bed can have a significant impact on your weight during your waking hours. It’s common knowledge that food takes 4-5 hours to leave the stomach so eating a heavy meal late at night will increase your chances of gaining two pounds overnight (13). Your best bet is to eat dinner early and not eat anything for a few hours before going to bed—this should help you avoid extreme weight fluctuations after waking up the next morning.
Don’t Drink Alcohol Before Bed
You’ve heard that alcohol makes you retain water, right? Also, if you drink too much before bed it will also likely disrupt your sleep cycle which can cause you to wake up feeling groggy and unrested. The combination of disrupted sleep and increased water retention from drinking alcohol before bed can make it almost impossible for you to lose weight even though you’re following a strict diet and exercise regimen (1).
So the takeaway here is this: try not to consume more than one alcoholic beverage before bed. This will help to limit the chances of experiencing overnight weight gain, which should make it easier for you to lose weight fast.
Drink Plenty Of Fluids—Just Not Before Bed
You’ve probably heard that drinking plenty of water is good for your health, but did you know that drinking water can help you avoid fluid retention? That’s because when you are dehydrated, your body holds onto every drop of fluid it can. If you stay well hydrated throughout the day, you are less likely to retain water.
Keep A Food Journal
If you really want to know whether or not you’re gaining weight, start keeping a food journal. Many people don’t realize that they may be eating too many calories at certain meals and then following up big dinners with high-calorie desserts and drinks (i.e., caloric overload). It’s important to keep track if you think your weight may be fluctuating because of the number of calories you’re consuming. Your best bet is to visit a nutritionist who can help determine if you have been eating the proper number of calories each day.
Sleep 7-8 Hours Each Night
You’ve heard that sleeping is good for your health , but did you know that it can help prevent weight fluctuations? Studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep tend to carry excess weight in their midsection (9). This is because poor sleep triggers the release of cortisol , a hormone that stimulates appetite. If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important that you get 7-8 hours of sleep each night so your body can properly rest and recover.
The Bottom Line
Weight fluctuations like two pounds overnight are completely normal and nothing to worry about. Keep track of what you eat and drink throughout the day and make sure to get enough sleep every night in order to maintain your ideal weight.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Alcohol and a Good Night’s Sleep Don’t Mix (2013, webmd.com)
- Dietary salt intake, sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, and obesity risk (2013, nih.gov)
- Does high-carbohydrate intake lead to increased risk of obesity? A systematic review and meta-analysis (2018, nih.gov)
- Estrogen effects of osmotic regulation of AVP and fluid balance (2002, physiology.org)
- Food intolerance and mucosal inflammation (2015, nih.gov)
- I Just Started Exercising – Why Am I Gaining Weight? (n.d., clevelandclinic.org)
- Increased salt consumption induces body water conservation and decreases fluid intake (2017, nih.gov)
- Intracellular Edema and Dehydration: Effects on Energy Metabolism in Alveolar Macrophages (1976, science.org)
- Molecular ties between lack of sleep and weight gain (2016, nih.gov)
- Pregnancy and birth: Weight gain in pregnancy (2018, nih.gov)
- Stress-induced sodium retention and hypertension: a review and hypothesis (2009, pubmed.gov)
- The Diuretic Action of Weak and Strong Alcoholic Beverage in Elderly Men: A Randomized Diet-Controlled Crossover Trial (2017, nih.gov)
- The Health Impact Of Nighttime Eating: The Old and New Perspectives (2015, nih.gov)